Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

How to Write a Screenplay Synopsis

Write a Screenplay Synopsis

What is it about writing a synopsis that just kills me to do it? I had to write one recently, and it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to get it done. I was sitting there, racking my brain for what I should include, how to convey the feel of the project, all while keeping it down to one page. I found myself getting lost in my social media procrastination routine more than getting any actual writing done. It was awful, but I’ve suffered so that I can pass on advice to help you, dear reader!

Hold your place in line, screenwriter! We’re getting closer to launching SoCreate Screenwriting Software to a limited number of beta testers. , without leaving this page.

Your synopsis will be used to help you sell your story. Think of it as a marketing tool. So, here are some tips on writing a synopsis. 

For your synopsis, think wide!

I think my problem with writing a synopsis is that I’ve written the story, so I know all the little details and all the minutiae of the piece, and sometimes I get bogged down in all that stuff. So, when you sit down to write your synopsis, focus on the broader, most important beats.

How long should a synopsis be?

A page or less.

Okay, so how do I approach a synopsis?

  • Start it off with one to two sentences about your first scenes

  • Tell us about the story as it happens

  • Be sure to include the most critical moments of conflict

  • Introduce us to your main character, you might mention other characters, but don’t get too caught up in the details

  • Make it interesting, persuade the reader that this will make a great movie or TV show!

  • End it with a couple of sentences that wrap everything up, and describe your ending scenes

Do I include anything besides the synopsis?

At the top of the page, you’ll want to put the title and under that “synopsis by so and so” followed by your contact info. If I have enough room, sometimes I’ll include my logline.

What if I’m working on a TV show?

I write more television than features, but when it comes time to write a synopsis for a TV show, I struggle! I try to mostly tell you about the pilot - so a normal summary like you’d do for a film, and then I like to have a final paragraph that talks about where we’re going or what the series will look like. It’s definitely a challenge to write a one-page summary for a TV show, but just strive to make it appealing, and make the reader want to know more!

So, do as I say, not as I do. Learn from my mistakes! Close the internet browser, leave the phone in another room, and focus on succinctly summarizing your story. Make it exciting, make it appealing, and make the reader just have to schedule a meeting with you to learn more about your awesome TV show or movie!

You may also be interested in...

4 Common Dialogue Problems in a Script

Screenplays are meant to be taut, precise, almost effortless reads. But there are common dialogue problems in a script that muddy a screenplay’s purity, leaving your reader trudging through page after page of gobbledygook. Luckily these issues are easy to spot during a rewrite of your script's dialogue. Take a read through four common script dialogue problems (with dialogue script examples) that you can probably find (and fix) right now. 1. Fluffy Dialogue. We recently wrapped the SoCreate “Get Writing” One-Page Screenplay Competition, and the results are fascinating. Where some writers complained that “it’s simply impossible” to fit a properly formatted scene on a...

How to Write Foreign Language in a Traditional Screenplay

Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood … in the 21st century, movies are made everywhere. And while the film industry expands, so does our desire to hear from more diverse voices, including languages we may not understand. But with strict screenplay formatting, how do you utilize foreign language to enhance the authenticity of your story, and at the same time make it legible and not confusing? Never fear, there are a few simple ways to add foreign language dialogue to your screenplay, no translations needed. Option 1: When it Doesn’t Matter if the Audience Understands the Foreign Language...

2 Ways to Write a Montage in a Traditional Screenplay

2 Ways to Write a Montage in a Traditional Screenplay

Montages. We all know them when we see them, but what exactly is going on there? How do I format a montage in my screenplay? What if my montage is happening in more than one location? Here are some tips and advice about writing montages that have helped me in my writing. What is a montage exactly? A montage is a collection of short scenes or brief moments that are lumped together to quickly show a passage of time. There’s usually no, or very little dialogue in a montage. A montage can be used to condense time and tell us a big part of a story in a brief time frame. A montage can...