Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t – Steven Pressfield

Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit - Steven Pressfield

  1. Streamline your message. Focus it and pare it down to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form.
  2. Make its expression fun. Or sexy or interesting or scary or informative. Make it so compelling that a person would have to be crazy NOT to read it.
  3. Apply that to all forms of writing or art or commerce.

Two fundamental truths:

  1. Nobody wants to read your shit.
  2. If you want to write and be recognized, you have to do it yourself.

Don’t think in Ads, think in campaigns. Be Like Mike stills sells Nike shoes today.

Thinking in concepts. There must be a message, and that message must stick.

Come Up With a Concept. A concept takes a conventional claim and puts a spin on it. A good concept makes the audience see your product from a very specific, sympathetic point of view and by its logic (or faux logic) renders all other points of view and all competing products moot and impotent. “A diamond is forever.” Everything should be a concept for having a concept as the starting point.

High Concept Movie – like Die Hard on a Plane (Passenger 57)

  1. whose narrative idea can be communicated in ten seconds or less (in other words, the perfect sound bite for an ad or a word-of-mouth recommendation), and
  2. as soon as you hear the idea, you can imagine all the cool scenes that are certain to be in the movie (and that you want to see).

Concepts in literature – Homer’s Iliad

Clients disease – What the ad person understands that the client does not is that nobody gives a damn about the client or his product.

Steal win no shame. Just put your own spin on it.

To make a great ad, define the problem (Samsung vs iPhone, 7Up as the un-cola) and find the solution.

It’s OK to be less than 100% pure. Some of the best artists work as copywriters and advertisers.


Narrative device.


Inciting incident.

Three-act (or multiple-act) structure. – how do you get the moviegoers interested? By hooking them (Act One), building the tension and complications (Act Two), and paying it all off (Act Three).

The hero’s journey is in our psyche 24/7.

Every story has to be about something. Walking Dead is about something, the Godfather is about something. Even Seinfeld is about something.

The inciting incident is when the story actually starts. There may be a setup, like in Silver Linings Playbook, when Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence first meet but the inciting incident is the start of the story. But make sure your climax is embedded in your inciting incident. When Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed agreed to fight we knew that they would meet in the final climax.

To say, “Keep it primal,” is to say, “Tell the story in pictures.”

First, figure out where you want to finish.

Then work backward to set up everything you need to get you there.

Raise the stakes. That’s why so many movies are about death and distraction because they work. Have some bodies hit the floor.

Avoid writing characters and text that are “exactly on the nose.” The subtext must be embedded in the dialogue.

American movies believe in the American Dream, believe in cause-and-effect, and we are mechanics. “Just make it work.”

“What makes a role for a star?

1) His or her issues drive the story. Theirs and nobody else’s. Every character in the story revolves around him or her.

2) His desire/issue/objective is (to him, in the context of his world) monumental. The stakes for him are life and death.

3) His passion for this desire/issue/objective is unquenchable. He will pursue it to, as Joe Biden might say, the gates of hell.

4) At the critical points in the story, his actions or needs (and nobody else’s) dictate the way the story turns.

5) The story ends when his issues are resolved and no sooner.

Have an epiphany moment, like in Rocky when he realizes if he just goes the distance versus Apollo Creed he will be no longer a bum.

Every novel must have a theme. Like the TV show sopranos, it’s about a gangster who goes to see a shrink. Every person has inner turmoil. This should be your starting point: find out what the story means.

If you want your piece of nonfiction, be it memoir or Ted talk or whatever, you have to structure of like a story and as if it were fiction.

1) Every story must have a concept. It must put a unique and original spin, twist or framing device upon the material.

2) Every story must be about something. It must have a theme.

3) Every story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Act One, Act Two, Act Three.

4) Every story must have a hero.

5) Every story must have a villain.

6) Every story must start with an Inciting Incident, embedded within which is the story’s climax.

7) Every story must escalate through Act Two in terms of energy, stakes, complication and significance/meaning as it progresses.

8) Every story must build to a climax centered around a clash between the hero and the villain that pays off everything that came before and that pays it off on-theme.

If you’re a woman writing a book about weight loss for women, you’d better be a size two with washboard abs and have photos of yourself prominently displayed throughout the book. Otherwise, we readers will have trouble accepting you as an authority.