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One Page Summary: Questions to Ask

Buried in the Slushpile

One page summaries can be deceptively simple. After all, you’re just distilling thousands of words into 500. What could go wrong?

Ask any author that’s sat down to write a one page summary only to have it be five pages, and they’ll tell you just how difficult it can really be.

So, I’ve put together a list of the key questions your one page summary should answer. Will your one page summary have more information than this? Probably. But at the bare minimum a reader should know the answer to these after reading yours:

•   Who is this book about?

•   What do they want, and what do they need?

•   What (or who) is stopping them?

•   What will they lose if they fail?

•   How do they change?

•   How do others affect them, and how do they affect others?

•   How does it all work out?

Now, you’ll notice, none of these were about your specific story beats. They should absolutely be in your summary, every single one of them. But these questions speak to the heart of your story. And you never want to leave that out.

So, as you are wading through the details of your story, trying to determine which ones make the cut, prioritize the ones that speak to these questions. Those are the bits of information that can’t be left out.

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