This is from The Writers Almanac. I get it in the email every day. I LOVE it…
It was on this date in 1928 that sliced bread went on sale for the first time. Up until then, consumers baked their own bread, or bought it in solid loaves. Otto Frederick Rohwedder, a jeweler from Davenport, Iowa, had been working for years perfecting the Rohwedder Bread Slicer. He tried to sell it to bakeries, but they told him that presliced bread would get stale and dry long before it could be eaten. He tried sticking the slices together with hatpins, but it didn’t work. Finally, he hit on the idea of wrapping the bread in waxed paper after it was sliced. Still no sale, until he took a trip to Chillicothe, Missouri, and met a baker who was willing to take a chance. Frank Bench agreed to try the five-foot-long, three-foot-high slicing and wrapping machine in his bakery. The proclamation went out to kitchens all over Chillicothe, via ads in the daily newspaper: “Announcing: The Greatest Forward Step in the Baking Industry Since Bread was Wrapped — Sliced Kleen Maid Bread.” Sales went through the roof, and now Chillicothe is claiming bragging rights as the Home of Sliced Bread, selling commemorative ornaments, tote bags, and “sliced bread” candles.
But, what the guy did, according to Pen Densham (author of Riding The Alligator, movie writer, director, producer), was “Eliminate the ‘No.'” That’s what salesmen have to do… find out why the people are saying, “No.” and then get rid of that obstacle. Then you make the sale.
He was describing this re: writers who won’t “Dig for the no.” People only want to hear that what they have written is fabulous, so they don’t dig for the criticism. His screenplay, MOLL FLANDERS, was passed on by the studio. He went to the head of the studio to hear why he’d passed. The guy gave him the reasons. Pen rewrote the script. The studio head thought it was one of the best scripts he’d ever read, and greenlit the movie.
Figure out what’s not working and fix it.
The whole world knows about sliced bread. But what about the wrapping feature that allowed the sliced bread to actually be sold?