Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Tyler M. Reid

Besides Your Screenplay, What Else Do You Need?

Your screenplay is your main product, and yes you should think of it as a product because someone is buying it at some point from you. If your screenplay is your main product, how do you go about selling that product? That is how you should think about your Logline, Synopsis, and/or Treatment (I’ll explain why And or Or a little bit later). These items give you a glimpse and then a look into your story before even reading the screenplay; usually they are the items someone looks at when deciding whether or not to read your screenplay.

So let’s break down each below and when you use them.

Besides Your Screenplay, What Else Do You Need?

Breaking Down the Logline, Synopsis, and Treatment


A logline is a brief, one or two-sentence summary of your screenplay that highlights the central concept, main character, and primary conflict or goal. It's designed to be concise and compelling, providing a clear idea of what your story is about and its unique hook or selling point. Loglines are crucial for pitching and are often the first thing a producer or agent will want to hear or read to gauge interest in a project. The key here is that they are short. Think of the saying “elevator pitch”, that is a logline, if you only have a few moments in an elevator with a producer your logline is that elevator pitch.

Logline Example

"A down-on-his-luck boxer gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ, in a bout he must win to secure his family's future and regain his dignity."

Rocky, written by Sylvester Stallone

I like to think of a logline as four elements = main character + setup + main conflict + main antagonist. If you can include all those elements you have in essence summarized your entire film.

A logline can be pitched on the spot or it's the first item you will put in a query letter, it's the sentence that will intrigue them to read the synopsis or ask to read the screenplay.


That brings us to the synopsis. A synopsis is a more detailed summary of your screenplay, usually ranging from one paragraph to a few pages, depending on the level of detail required. It covers the main plot points, character arcs, and the narrative's beginning, middle, and end. Unlike the logline, a synopsis gives a bigger picture of the story, including key scenes and how the story resolves, but still in a condensed form. The key elements you would see in a synopsis would be an expansion on the logline by outlining the major plot points, including the protagonist's background, major turning points, climax, and resolution, while still being concise. If your logline is a couple sentences then your synopsis may be just a few paragraphs. Sometimes it could be a simple paragraph for each ACT and then a few bullet points under each paragraph detailing major points in each ACT.


Finally, the treatment. First a treatment is a detailed document that describes the story of a screenplay in prose form, almost like a short story. It's more comprehensive than a synopsis and includes detailed descriptions of characters, key scenes, and the overall narrative flow, but it's less detailed than the screenplay itself. Treatments can range from a few pages to 20 or more and are often used in the development stage to flesh out the story before writing the screenplay. They're useful for getting feedback and buy-in from producers, directors, and other collaborators. The key elements of a treatment will narrate the story from beginning to end, including descriptions of the setting, mood, character dynamics, and key dialogues or interactions. It provides a clear vision of how the story unfolds, the emotional journey of the characters, and how the narrative elements tie together.

The reason I said you may need a treatment is that depending on your goals with your film, a treatment can help set up the next stages, for instance if you are already thinking about sequels. If you have written a pilot, then a treatment can help lay out the rest of the reason. A treatment is not always necessary if you already have your logline and synopsis, however, anytime you write it's always good practice for you as a writer but also how you talk about your story. Writing a treatment is great practice on how you can talk about and explain your screenplay in story form.

A screenplay is only one piece of the written material you need. For you as a writer, the screenplay is the final product, everything else are tools to help you sell that product. As much as you try to master being a screenwriter, master loglines and synopsis as well.

Tyler is seasoned film and media professional with over 20 years of diverse experience, specializing in production management and creative direction, with a rich portfolio spanning music videos, films, and documentaries, and a global network from the US to Sweden. Reach him on his website, LinkedIn, and X, and gain access to his free filmmaking templates when you sign up for his newsletter here.

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