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One Page, One Summary

Buried in the Slushpile

It’s time for everyone’s favorite part of a query! The one page synopsis! Yay!!

I can just hear the phones clicking shut and fingers slamming on the ctrl+Q keys to avoid this topic. No one likes the one page synopsis. No one.

But why are they the bane of every author’s existence?

Because after having written a novel of 10,000 or 30,000 or even 100,000 words, you then have to take your epic tale and condense it into 500 paltry words. It’s infuriating. It’s depressing.

It’s necessary.

The thing is, you’re going to need to talk about your children’s book in 500 words or less from now until the end of time. You need to be able to tell people a quick retelling of your story so that they’ll want to read your book. The one page synopsis is like your elevator or other types of pitches, just a little longer and with spoilers.

So, what are you putting in that synopsis?

For starters, your entire plot. You aren’t leaving anything out. Theoretically you’ve already outlined your book, so use the plot points from that outline. This will make sure you don’t miss any story beats or forget an important subplot.

Then, you’re going to make sure you’ve included all your major characters (by name) with indications of their goal-motivation-conflicts and character arcs. Again, if you listed these during the revision process, it’ll go much faster.

Finally, you’ll have an indication of the stakes for the story. They should already be present since they are an integral part of the plot and character arcs. So, if they don’t seem to be there, it’s a good idea to consider tweaking your summary again.

In the end, the one page summary is just another chance to tell the agent or editor that you are querying just how amazing your children’s book is. You can encapsulate that entire story in 500 words or less. I just know it.

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