6 Tips On Writing A One Page Pitch For Your Script Or Novel

All About One Page Pitch

CONGRATS! You’ve got a read request for one of your screenplays or novels. BUT WAIT! Never send your work without a One Page Pitch (aka ‘one pager’, aka the “synopsis”, novelists). A One Pager is a GREAT opportunity to sell your story “off the page” and get in that reader’s good books. Wait … What’s that you say? You already have a One Pager Pitch! GREAT …

… Is it any good, though? How can you tell? 

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Always Include A One Page Pitch

Of course, in an ideal world, One Page Pitches would *only* be judged on whether the idea behind them is appealing or not. In reality, having read hundreds (if not thousands) of the the damn things, I can tell you 9/10 they’re judged in the negative and succeed only in demotivating the reader from wanting to read your script or novel.

That however does NOT mean you should leave a One Page Pitch out altogether.

There is a way to turn this around and make your script’s One Page Pitch do what it’s supposed to do, which is MAKE your reader WANT to devour your work whole in one sitting (no mean feat).

So, let’s get down to business:

There’s no “right” way to write a One Page Pitch. There is no industry standard on the way it looks or how it reads. There’s no special font you’re *supposed* to use and there’s no special way you’re supposed to lay it out.

DYK? This post is now a brilliant infographic. CLICK HERE to see it.

What You Need Your One Page Pitch To Do:

In short, write your one page pitch whatever way you want. But DO remember just two things:

Make it clear

and

Make it interesting.

I would venture the majority of one page pitch are CONFUSED and/or BORING. So if you can nail those two, teensy tiny things (that mean SO much), you’re way ahead literally 90% of the competition. FACT.

To Make Sure Your One Page Pitch Is CLEAR:

1) Put your logline at the top. That’s right – AT THE TOP MOFOS. Use 25-60 words, tops; you can even write LOGLINE next to it if you want. But whatever you do, don’t skirt round it and DON’T LEAVE IT OFF ALTOGETHER. Make sure your logline really sings, too – and isn’t a tagline. The same goes for a novel, by the way. You may not want to call it a logline, but novels with a short pitch line of 25-60 words at the top of their synopsis are inevitably clearer than those without, too.

2) Start with the SET UP – who we’re dealing with, what they’re up against and WHY. So in other words, who’s the protagonist? What does s/he want? Who’s the antagonist? How is s/he going to try and stop the protagonist? If you’re not writing a feature but a TV pilot for a returning drama or a pitch for a sitcom, give us a sense of the series as whole. Same with novels!

3) Tell us HOW IT ENDS. I cannot stress this enough. Lots of writers *think* it adds to the intrigue by leaving the ending out or worse, ending on a question (shudder), but think about it: why would someone INVEST their time in reading your story if they only know how it starts? The notion of “spoilers” is not applicable in this scenario – and if you REALLY don’t want to spoil a dramatic twist ending, why not say it has a dramatic twist ending? In an interesting way, natch. Leading us to …

To Make Sure Your One Pager Is INTERESTING:

4) Match the tone of the document to your GENRE. If it’s a comedy, make your One Pager FUNNY. If it’s a Thriller, Action/Adventure or Horror, use vocabulary and writing style reflect that. If it’s a drama, make it EMOTIONAL. Do whatever it takes to get the reader ON BOARD.

5) Avoid the nuts and bolts of the plot: “And then … And then … And then …” It’s yawnsome. Plus this is what people mean when they say, “Sell the sizzle not the steak”. We don’t need the meat of the story yet – that’s in the script or novel itself. Remember: SELL us the idea OFF THE PAGE instead.

6) Less is more. We all know this when it comes to screenwriting, but not when it comes to One Page Pitches it seems. Break up text, don’t write one big black block. Make it LOOK appealing, be economical with words. And don’t go overboard on fancy fonts or design, either. And yes, same with novel synopses too.

And oh yeah – Don’t forget to check and download the The B2W Submissions Checklist from the resources page.

Good luck!

DYK? This post is now a brilliant infographic. CLICK HERE to see it.

Like This Post?

PsulitHyThen check out my screenwriting books, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon and all good book stores. Click the pics or to look inside Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays, CLICK HERE.

 

thriller

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays about the iconic character of Driver in the movie DRIVE, courtesy of B2W friends Film Doctor. Click on the pic or HERE, to look inside in the front of the book.

 

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22 thoughts on “6 Tips On Writing A One Page Pitch For Your Script Or Novel”

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  6. Wise words indeed. Thank you. A stupid question, no doubt, but by ‘one page’ do you mean one side of a page or both sides? I would be more comfortable with 2 sides for my 90 minute TV drama.

  7. Lucy, so is the pitch the same as a one page synopsis as requested by the likes of Ink Tip?
    I thought different, but admit to struggling with both! I do believe in KISS.

    1. It *can* depend, Eric — if a place does NOT specify exactly what they’re expecting in a synopsis or one pager when you submit, then what I outline here is fine. The key is, if in doubt, ask them!

  8. Lucy — I love your website, and have been devouring it since I discovered it yesterday. Lots of excellent tips & advice! I like this post too, with one exception. I don’t agree with #3: “Tell us how it ends”.

    As I see it, we should focus on achieving ONE goal with the synopsis — make the reader want to read the screenplay. And, as Joe Toplyn points out, the synopsis serves a very similar purpose to that of a movie trailer, which is designed to make people want to spend their time & money to see the movie. And trailers never give away the ending. For me, that analogy settled the issue, once & for all.

    1. Except it doesn’t matter how we see it. Industry people – like agents and producers – want to know the ending, so they can know if it’s worth their time (and money) investing. So really, that should settle it.

  9. Hey Lucy!
    Should I include the type of TV show (network comedy, half hour for example) in this one pager? Also, I’m writing a one-pager for a sit-com and I want to write it in the voice of the main character in a letter format. Do you think that’s fine as long as it’s funny or does that set off any red flags for you?

    1. Yes, you should say WHAT it is, for sure. As for writing in the voice of the character … Hmmm. If you’re going to do it, you gotta NAIL it, otherwise it comes off as gimmicky and try-hard. But why not, if you can? Good luck!

  10. Torill Eide Nilsen

    Is there resources where you can read outlines/ synopsis/pitches of known series or features as they were originally presented? I know I will find sound advice as to writing my script, but how do I find examples of how to tell someone about my story…?

    1. One pagers are very hard to find. It’s a good idea to find others in the same boat as you who want to swap – you can see what works and doesn’t work on the page when it’s not your own story you’re looking at. Why not join the B2W Facebook group, ‘Bang2writers’ and do this? JOIN HERE.

  11. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned that writing a one-page script is helpful in helping people judge the script without having to read the entire thing. I imagine that in screenwriting a good first impression is very important. If I was in this situation, I would probably have a professional proof-read mine before I submitted it.

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