Well, that’s Draft Seven done. Talk about your long rows to hoe.
How long did you spend crafting and recrafting, conceiving and revising? Months? Years?
But you have it about as polished as you can make it, and in all likelihood, your brain hurts and you’re sick of the story.
Congratulations. You have achieved a wondrous thing. I mean that sincerely.
Now, take that radical writing, dazzling dialogue, cogent characterization, amazing action, and tell the exact same story in a single page.
No playing with page margins and point sizes. A single page that is easy and enjoyable to read.
It’s no easy task, under the best of conditions, but you should be able to do it. And if you can’t, it likely means that you don’t have a good handle on your story.
Not just for producers
Even if you don’t have any meetings with producers or agents planned—in fact, BECAUSE you don’t yet have any meetings with producers or agents planned—you should develop a one-page synopsis of your work just to make sure you understand your story and that your story is solid.
The one-pager forces you to cut away all of the excesses that might disguise fundamental problems with your story and bring any such issues into the glaring light of day.
The one-pager forces you to understand how well you can concisely and clearly convey your thinking, and perhaps just as importantly, highlights how universal your idea is.
Not even one page
If you thought rewrites were a pain, you can only imagine how difficult these things are to write; at least for us mere mortals.
And to make matters worse, you don’t even have a full page to write your synopsis because of everything else that needs to be included.
- Who are you and how does anyone get hold of you?
- What is the name and nature of your project (i.e., title, genre, medium)?
- Why are you the best person to tell this story (i.e., any special skills, knowledge, background)?
- Logline or one/two-sentence synopsis of the story
And then a short handful of paragraphs that highlight:
- Your protagonist & the world he/she inhabits
- The goals and more importantly, what’s at stake
- The main antagonisms/conflicts
And somehow you must do this in a manner that is interesting, engaging and entertaining, that reflects the mood and genre of the piece, and most importantly, reflects your voice and style.
As an example of a one-pager, I offer The Naughty List. I’m not saying it is a good one-pager, but it is one page and conveys my story (and me).
Award-winning screenwriter Randall C Willis is Story Analyst & Coach at So, What’s Your Story? (Facebook page). He also teaches screenwriting in Toronto at Raindance Canada and George Brown College.