Summary Misery

One of the more perplexing irritations a writer suffers is the ubiquitous one-page summary.  Regardless of how long your novel may be—two hundred pages, three hundred or more—or how complex and riveting. every publisher and agent seems to require this three hundred word ‘pitch’ in representation. I’ve been tempted to merely grab the most interesting word from each page, toss in a suitable sprinkling of random punctuation, and toddle the thing along.  

I wonder. Did Mark Twain have to deal with this one-page wonder? Did Dickens, or Hardy? Stevenson? Shakespeare? I wonder what a one-page summary of, say, HAMLET, might have been spun by the bard? I decided it might have looked like the following.


By William Shakespeare

A single page summary


Alas, poor Hamlet. The youth doth toil in trauma, deranged by distress, embroiled in confusion. He finds himself bereaved and bereft, besieged on all fronts by loss and remorse, attacked by angst, haunted by indecision, more so by the ghost of his dead father, also of name Hamlet.

The lad’s dad, alas, has been killed by Hamlet’s own uncle, Claudius, now the king, that he may have the poor boy’s mother, Gertrude. Evil abounds, while the father’s ghost roams the grounds, terrifying the simple minded—most likely evangelical Baptists—as he beseeches, implores, nay, demands his son avenge him.

Torn ‘tween hate and reason, fear and vengeance, yon young Hamlet, never the most stable stone in the palace garden, succumbs to madness. Or does he, for here, dear publisher, is the pointed pebble in the proceedings. Is Hamlet really, truly, genuinely insane as he plots to kill the king even as he courts and confounds the nubile Ophelia (also both more and less than she seems)? Or is it all an act, a mere theatric with which to cloak himself in the appearance of an energetic but harmless cuckoo while he summons the courage and the means to act on his dead father’s behalf, that he might at last get a decent night’s sleep?

Intrigue lies everywhere. Will Hamlet act? Will he dispose Claudius before he is himself erased by the King? Is his mother victim or conspirator in the elder Hamlet’s end? What, exactly, is Ophelia about? What “great” actors will expose themselves as mediocre imposters trying to portray the young Hamlet in the coming generations?

This is the stuff of heart-rending sorrow, with episodes of toe-tingling suspense, moments of stunning violence and murder, sure to mesmerize viewers of all classes. This, then, is HAMLET!


I await most humbly, the pleasure of your acceptance.

Will S.

Ps. Speaking of Kings and Queens, did I omit to mention our Queen is a personal friend? I wish thee a most bounteous day.

Will S.

Ps. Speaking of Kings and Queens, did I omit to mention our Queen is a personal friend? I wish thee a most bounteous day.


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