If you’re looking to make it big in the filmmaking industry, you must learn how to write a movie synopsis. It’s a key factor when looking to sell your script.
But it’s the age-old question, “how do I fit my whole script into one page?”.
It’s a lot more simple than you think! The synopsis is made up of an efficient structure that will display your story’s outline and key events in only a few concise steps. This brief output of your script will help dazzle and wow production company officials.
This article, will cover what a synopsis is, how you can write a screenplay selling synopsis, and a couple of examples to get the thought process flowing.
Let’s dive into it!
What is a synopsis?
A synopsis is the overall summary of your plot, the core concept of your screenplay, and the main character arcs in your screenplay.
The main reason for a writer to write a synopsis is simply to sell their screenplay. It’s a way you can convince the producer of their assistant to read the full script, or at least the first few pages!
How long should a movie synopsis be?
A synopsis should be anywhere between one and three pages. In all honesty, the shorter, the better. As the reader will want to read a synopsis that’s concise and interesting, and if the synopsis interests them, they’ll read the full script.
So, don’t try and cram everything into your synopsis. Only include the integral parts of your screenplay. A little lower down, we specify what to include and the format you should follow for your synopsis.
What to include in a movie synopsis?
A synopsis is made up of a few components. These include a header, your contact details, a logline, and a summary.
In your header, you should include the title of your screenplay, your name, and contact details. This gives the reader instant access to your details if they want to progress with your script.
The loglines up next. The logline comes directly after your header to give the reader a sense of your story and where it’s heading. Read our article on how to craft a logline that sells, and it will help you understand the formula of writing a great logline.
You may also be interested in: The most iconic logline examples
Your screenplay summary should be written in the third person and if you’ve utilised the three-act structure to create your story, then put that into your synopsis.
You can then quickly summarise each act with precision and interest. You can focus on the story arc and summarise the character arcs. This will help you write a concise synopsis that will capture the readers’ imagination, and hopefully, their chequebook!
You may also find this useful, What is a film treatment and how do I create one?
Essential tips to writing an incredible synopsis
When writing your synopsis, there are a few essential rules you must abide by. These tips will help you craft a concise, engaging, and hopefully, help you sell your screenplay.
Emphasise the development of your character
Emphasise the development of your character throughout the story. So often, you’ll end up focused on telling the story arc, but it’s important to include the character arc as well.
Ensure your protagonist’s key story points are included in the synopsis, as well as their motivations. Hitting the key points in your character arc, paired with hitting the key points on your story arc, is essential to writing a robust synopsis.
READ MORE: The Fundamentals of Character Development
Keep it to the core plot.
Make sure you stick to the core plot in your synopsis. It’s easy to stray away and want to talk all about your subplots to the main plot.
But, keep it simple. State the key story arc and the character arc in the synopsis, and that’s more than enough.
You only need to state the key storyline in the synopsis.
Include the ending
When finishing up your synopsis, make sure you include the ending of your story. How are the characters left at the end of the story? What is the final state of their world?
This gives you an ending, something the person reading the synopsis will want to know; you want to give them a reason to read the full script.
Telling them the ending is a must!
Make sure you proofread your synopsis before you send it. You don’t want one small typo to ruin your chances of selling your script. It’s crazy how a small mistake can cost you the world.
Granted, some producers will brush over it if your story wow’s them. Unfortunately, most won’t let a spelling mistake or grammatical error slide.
No need to worry; proofread it, and you’ll be fine.
Convey the tone of your story in the synopsis
When writing the synopsis, ensure you write in the same way as you do in your script. This is helpful in many ways; firstly it gives the synopsis character.
This also gives the reader an understanding of how you write and what they can expect from the script.
Finally, if the tone doesn’t match and your lucky enough to have your script read, it may be confusing why the tone doesn’t match the synopsis.
Ensure your synopsis conveys the same tone; it’ll make it 100x better!
Keep it short.
We mentioned it earlier, but it’s essential. You want to include all the core elements of your script and exclude everything else. A synopsis is a bit of a challenge to write, but keep it short, concise, and engaging.
Stick to the one to three-page mark, and you’ll be golden.
An example of a movie synopsis
This is a quick example of a synopsis and will help you structure your synopsis in a way that stands out. The example below is provided by the guys over at Script Mag.
iFilmThings synopsis template
Here is our synopsis template for you to use. It will help you correctly structure your synopsis and set you on your path to success.
Remember to read our article on how to write a logline, as this will help you perfect your logline, a core part of the synopsis. The synopsis will also need a character arc implemented. Read our article here on character development to help you with crafting a memorable character.
We hope this article on how to write a synopsis was useful! Let us know what you thought in the comments below. While you’re here, why not check out some of our favourite articles below:
- Character Development Worksheet
- The Dan Harmon Story Circle – How it can make you a better storyteller
- 22 of the Best Screenwriting Books, You Must Read!
- Our top 9 screenwriting tips to help you become a better screenwriter
Do you have an idea for a movie that you think will skyrocket? Or, you’ve finished a 90-page feature-length gem, but you don’t know where to start selling the idea. Fear not, here’s how to sell your movie. Selling a movie is an art; it’s not easy – even if your script is incredible, there […]
The Scorpian and the Frog fable is always mentioned in television and film, but the question is, what is the Scorpian and the Frog fable? And, where did it come from? Knowing the background of the Scorpian and the Frog fable is seen as pretty important in the filmmaking industry as it’s so widely used […]
Screenwriting software can be an expensive piece of equipment and quite frankly a big deal when it comes to deciding which screenwriting software suits you best. You want your screenwriting software to be easy to use, efficient and most importantly, right for you. In today’s article, we delve into numerous pieces of screenwriting software and […]
Becoming a screenwriter is not easy, and making it as a screenwriter is even harder. That sounded really harsh reading that back. However, this is reality. It’s not impossible, but… It will be tough. If you think you’ve got what it takes and you can apply that, work hard – then why not! We think […]
Conflict in film is a crucial element to every story; it’s what drives the plot. You need to make sure you tie the conflict to your character correctly and allow it to manifest both internally and externally. If you don’t carefully tie the conflict to your character, you will miss out on truthful, tense conflict, […]
Conflict is integral to any great story, and both internal conflict and external conflict must be mapped out and developed fully. Internal conflict is everything that is happening inside your characters head, their struggles with decisions, morality and the mental state they’re pushed through whilst trying to solve these dilemmas. It’s an interesting concept that […]