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 movie 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 film synopsis is, how you can write a synopsis that sells, and a couple of examples to get the thought process flowing.
Use the navigation menu below to skip to the part of the article you wish to read:
- What is a movie synopsis?
- How long should a movie synopsis be?
- What to include in a movie synopsis?
- How long should a film synopsis be?
- Film synopsis vs treatment
- Essential tips to writing a film synopsis that sells!
- What is a good film synopsis?
- iFilmThings [Free] synopsis template
What is a movie synopsis?
A film 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 film 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 film synopsis should be anywhere between one and three pages. In all honesty, the shorter, the better. As the reader will want to read a film 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 movies 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 film synopsis is made up of a few components. These include a header, your contact details, a logline, and a brief summary of your film.
Header (Title, Your name and the contact details).
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?
How long should a film synopsis be?
Your film synopsis should be one page for an average length film. This allows the reader to consume it in around five minutes and give them enough detail to make a decision on whether or not they will read your script, and potentially fund it.
Keep it short, to the point and ensure it tells the story but doesn’t give away the ending. You want the film synopsis to sell the story to the reader and make them want to know more.
Film synopsis vs treatment
Film synopsis and film treatment can often be confused, yes they may be similar but there is a stark difference between the two.
- A film synopsis is a summary of your script.
- A Film treatment is a much longer breakdown of the story of your film and is used to pitch the full film before they begin to write their screenplay.
Essential tips to writing a film synopsis that sells!
When writing your film 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.
You may also be interested in The Scorpion and The Frog fable – Don’t screw your mates over.
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 film 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 films synopsis
When writing the synopsis of your film, 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 you are 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.
What is a good film synopsis?
This is a great example of a film 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.
A few good men synopsis
Good Will Hunting film synopsis
Though Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has genius-level intelligence (such as a talent for memorizing facts and an intuitive ability to prove sophisticated mathematical theorems), he works as a janitor at MIT and lives alone in a sparsely furnished apartment in an impoverished South Boston neighborhood.
Read the full film synopsis of Good Will Hunting.
Frozen 2 film synopsis
The film opens with young Anna (voice of Hadley Gannaway) and Elsa (voice of Mattea Conforti) playing a game with Elsa’s snow creations in an enchanted forest of their own creation. King Agnarr (voice of Alfred Molina) and Queen Iduna (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) enter, and Agnarr tells the girls he has seen an enchanted forest in real life.
Read the full film synopsis of Frozen 2.
The Dark Knight film synopsis
With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has been able to keep a tight lid on crime in Gotham City. But when a vile young criminal calling himself the Joker (Heath Ledger) suddenly throws the town into chaos, the caped Crusader begins to tread a fine line between heroism and vigilantism.
Read the full film synopsis of The Dark Knight.
iFilmThings [Free] 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
What’s an example of an anti hero? What is an anti hero? Just a couple of questions we hear pretty often. We all know of an anti hero, but are what actually are they and what makes you an anti hero? This article delves into what an anti hero is, great examples, and touches upon […]
Films are visually pleasing, but screenplays have to create a picture in the reader’s mind. This is where slug lines come into play. A slug line has the ability to draw your attention to the key visual element of the scene. In this article, we explore what a slug line is, perfect examples of slug […]
An anti-villain – intriguing, unique and pretty unusual. The villain is the antagonist of the story and their aim is to do anything they can to stop the protagonist and stop them from achieving their goals. However, what if the villain’s plans are not that sinister, what does that mean? Well, it means that they […]
Over the years loglines have been one of the most important parts to the screenwriters arsenal, it really can be overlooked but provides producers an insight into the script and they may even decided whether it’s worth their time, just by reading a logline.
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 […]