The one PAGE, one PARAGRAPH, one SENTENCE challenge

This week I have a bit of an editing challenge for you. I promise, it’s actually a FUN and BENEFICIAL exercise – unlike some of those projects you may have been subjected to during your more formal education. I learned this one from Pat Flynn. I’m a big fan of Pat’s work, and a lot of what he does over at I read Pat’s recent book “Will if Fly?” a couple months ago, and have recently found myself immersed in it again while using it for a project of my own, as well as coaching my son through some entrepreneurial business ideas. We’ve been having fun. Trust me, when the light goes on for a guy that would have agonized over an English exercise, but he suddenly becomes engaged in the process through an editing challenge – it’s worth sharing with others in my community.

The one PAGE, one PARAGRAPH, one SENTENCE challenge is a way to distill iterations of an idea you may wish to bring to market. As entrepreneurs, I’m willing to bet a few of you have stuff rolling around in your head that you could try this with.

Step 1: Write one page

To help zoom in on your one sentence, you need to start with a larger field of vision and write a one-page summary of your target idea. It should run 400-500 words and turn a mind-map of ideas into something tangible. Think who is your target market? What problem are you solving? Who are the competitors in the industry? And how will you be unique? (your competitive advantage)

Step 2: Write one paragraph

The next challenge is taking what you wrote and condense it into a single 3-5 sentence paragraph. Focus on the person on the other end and only what they need to know in order to fully understand what your target idea is all about. Brevity is your friend. Be brutal, and select your words carefully.

Step 3: Write one sentence

This is the final step where you take what you wrote in your paragraph and distill that into a single sentence. This is likely the toughest step, taking the longest, even though it has the fewest words. This one sentence defines what you want your idea to become. Read it out loud until you can confidently say that speaking it to someone unfamiliar with the idea – would understand it.

This will give you something to “test market” the concept – and consider questions, clarification, additional opportunities, or further iterations that may be required before bringing the idea to market.

As I have mentioned briefly in previous newsletters, I am working on a fun new project for a travel writing and blogging venture called I have found this process extremely useful while flushing out the ideas behind it, as well as in the copywriting process for the site (which is still in design phase, but launching later in June). If you link to it right now, there’s just a landing page, but here is a sneak peak at where it will be going. brings together a community of READERS, WRITERS and TRAVEL COMPANIES united in adventure travel for fun-fit-females, many in their 50s, who pursue authentic, meaningful experiences with friends, a partner, family or solo – always leading the way, and always traveling light.

Yes, it’s long – but I’m still breathing at the end of it! I look forward to sharing more details about the new travel writing site once it launches (I’m planning for the end of this week). And I’d be happy to explore opportunities for overlap between the two communities.

Did you find this process useful? Leave a comment below, and if you have a single sentence you want to try out, fire it off. If you’d prefer to try it out in a less public forum, you can email it to me:


Mary Charleson

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