Agents’, producers’, and publishers’ time is extremely limited. These professionals continuously receive requests to read new work, most of which they eventually reject. The one page proposal is designed to capture their interest in the shortest possible time.
Think of the one page proposal as a selling document designed to hook the reader through the power and originality of your story idea—it doesn’t necessarily have to tell the whole story. The intention of this document is to impress the reader enough to have her request the fuller treatment, or, the first draft of your story. A proposal, therefore, must not be confused with a one page synopsis in that it isn’t designed to summarise the entire story. Rather, a proposal ought to fit on a single side of A4 paper or, on a single screen, and contain a lot of white space—in other words, appear uncluttered and be easy to read.
Most importantly, the one page proposal ought to:
1. Contain a powerful log-line.
2. Propel the reader into imagining the entire project. It should set up the location, period, mood, and genre of the story. The more vivid and engaging the description contained in the proposal, the better the chance that it will hook and ignite the reader’s interest in it.
3. Identify the target audience/ reader
4. Contain the main story question—e.g. Will Neo defeat Agent Smith and thus save humanity from a life of slumbering delusion—The Matrix. In the case of a movie or television script proposal: Reveal if any production elements are already attached, such as actors, director, producer, or, are interested in the project.
The one page proposal is intended to create interest in your project without taking up too much time. A successful proposal results in the agent, publisher, or producer asking for the treatment or first draft of your story.