All About The One Pager
Whether you’re writing a screenplay or novel, a killer one pager can help you get read requests from industry pros.
That’s why I’m delighted to welcome Bob Schultz to Bang2write today. There’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about one pagers! Also, don’t forget you can also download the B2W one page pitch reference guide from the resources page HERE. You can also grab it by clicking any of the pics in this article. Over to you, Bob!
Writing A Great One Pager
“My boss won’t read the whole script. Do you have a one pager I could give them?”
Even as the flopsweats begin, you croak out a semi-confident “Sure.” Then you spend the rest of the week hoping the world will come to an end and save you the torture of writing one.
Good news, fellow writers!
Creating a One Pager is easier than you think. Here are some quick tips to craft a thing of beauty that will result in a quick and glorious “Send it.”
1) Tell a complete story
The One Pager is a document designed to show you can deliver what every producer is looking for: an excellent story, well told. The strategies that make for a great movie, script, and book also make for a great One Pager. Tell your whole story with panache. Start strong, finish stronger.
2) Think like the reader
Don’t think like the one who wrote it. Think like the one who will read it. Your One Pager is one of 100 they are going to be reading. That day. Maybe after a terrible meeting with the boss. Or after the coffee has worn off. Perhaps on the Tube home.
What experience is your one pager giving that person? Don’t merely look at it with fresh eyes. Look at it with distracted, tired eyes longing to go home for the night. Does it cut through all the noise of day-to-day life?
An overly-complicated story can mean an unceremonious demise for your script. This is even more true for a One Pager. Leave out diversions, dead drops, and red herrings. Shave off all extraneity. Your story ought to be a focused laser-beam. All treasure, no detritus.
4) Think: SUPO
SUPO = Set Up, Pay Off. Every single detail in your One-Pager ought to be relevant TO SOMETHING ELSE IN THE ONE-PAGER. If you spend valuable real estate to tell me your protagonist is an accountant, I better see them do some bad-ass bookkeeping by the bottom of the page.
5) Don’t just summarise
We don’t sell stories. We sell an experience. Don’t be dull. Choose evocative language. Excel in style as well as substance. Don’t let a single sentence exist without delivering vital information, story advancement, and most importantly, ENTERTAINMENT.
6) Sell the sizzle
A One Pager is the smell of cookies baking in a house for sale. It is not the blueprints filed with the local government. Its purpose is to inspire a read, and inspiration is an emotion …
… You don’t want your reader to feel happy … but ELATED.
… Nor do you want them to feel sad … but CRYING.
… You don’t want them feeling tense … but TERRIFIED.
7) Remember: A One Pager is NOT your script
Emancipate yourself from the notion that your One Pager *is* your script. It is a stand-alone document meant to result in action. An effective menu entices you to order something. Then it is up to the food itself to deliver the greatness.
8) Assume a wider audience
Your One Pager might be requested by a particular person … But when done right? That baby is going to be a joint at a Dead show, passed around far and wide. Asides, comments, inside gags shared between you and the reader MUST work in the broader context of anybody who has never met you. Write to establish a rapport with every potential reader.
9) Your script & One Pager can improve each other
When I teach my course on Writing the Killer One Pager, we break down the process into 10 easy steps. Often, the act of writing the One Pager can reveal weak points in the story itself. By looking at your story through the magnifying glass of the One Pager, you can identify problems before it lands in some exec’s inbox.
10) No tricks
A One Pager must be – this should come as no surprise – ONE PAGE. If you’ve taken a swing at doing one, and wound up on page 2, it’s time for a rewrite. It is NOT time to monkey with margins, fonts, leading, kerning, flibbins, space jam, glippy, squawks, or any other layout terms, some of which I might have made up.
Don’t game the system. You want someone to read your One Pager? Make it easier to read. If you have too much information to fit on one page, there is only one answer: write better.
And that’s it! With a little practice, the One Pager will become a valuable tool that will help you in your writing, and in your career.
A little bonus for you …
For an example of a One-Pager that really kills, check out THIS VIDEO. Don’t miss it!