Writing a clear, concise, and engaging film synopsis is necessary for all screenwriters to learn. What is a film synopsis, and why would you need to write one? How is a synopsis different from a logline? Today, I’m answering those questions and more as I share film synopsis examples!
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What Is a Synopsis?
A synopsis is a summary of the plot of your screenplay. It should cover all of your acts, important emotional beats, and crucial character arcs. The synopsis should also include the ending. Your synopsis should work to sell the idea of your script. It should be written in prose and be in the present tense told from the third person perspective.
It can be easy to overthink writing a synopsis. A simple way to approach it is to break it down by explaining who the main character is, what they want, and what stands in their way of getting it. By thinking along those lines, naturally, plot points come up, and you can write those in where needed.
Another approach to writing a synopsis can be to take your logline and flesh it out. Adding plot points and characters to your logline can be a helpful way to get started writing a synopsis if you find yourself stuck.
Why Should You Write a Synopsis?
Screenwriting competitions, agents, producers, and executives might often request to read a synopsis of a script before dedicating the time to reading the script itself. A well-written, brief synopsis can sometimes help convince an unsure agent, producer, or executive to read your script.
Some writers like to write a synopsis before they even write a script. Writing a synopsis in the pre-writing stage of your screenwriting process can help you to clarify and better understand your script’s story.
The Difference Between a Film Synopsis, Logline, and Treatment
The main difference between a synopsis, a logline, or a treatment comes down to length.
A film synopsis can vary in length, but brevity is always a strength. Movie synopses are usually no longer than a page in length.
Loglines are no more than two sentences.
A treatment can be anywhere from 5-15 pages. A treatment is significantly longer because it delves deeper into the script, sometimes going into individual scenes, themes, tones, and character breakdowns.
Free Film Synopsis Template
A film synopsis is sometimes called a “one-pager” or a “one-page synopsis.” It’s called a one-pager simply because it should only be one page. While there’s no industry standard for writing a one-pager, a good rule is to include the logline, the synopsis itself, and your contact information. The synopsis should be between three to five paragraphs in length.
Film synopsis examples
Do you want to read some film synopsis examples but have discovered they’re hard to find? Here are some synopsis examples I’ve come across.
“Writer’s Digest” provides an example of writing a synopsis using the 1996 Ron Howard-directed thriller, “Ransom,” written by Richard Price and Alexander Ignon. Check it out here! This synopsis is a good example of narrowing down the focus and discussing the main character’s journey and how they interact with the major plot points.
Now you’re ready to go forth and write your own film synopsis! Remember to keep it as short as possible, but also be sure to cover your main character’s journey and all the major plot points. Happy writing!