What is a one-page proposal?
Producers and publishers have limited time at their disposal. They continuously receive requests to read new work, most of which they eventually reject. The one-page proposal is designed to capture their attention at a glance.
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.
”The one-page proposal is a marketing document intend to interest agents, publishers, and producers in a story.”
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 Maverick and his team of ace pilots succeed in bombing a foreign country’s unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant? (Top Gun: Maverick.) In the case of a movie or television script proposal: Reveal if any production elements that 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.