What is it about writing a film synopsis that just kills me to do it? I had to write a script synopsis recently, and it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to get it done. I was sitting there, racking my brain for what key details 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.
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 writing your synopsis, think wide!
I think my problem with writing a one-page synopsis is that I've already spent so much time on the writing process, and I've written the entire script, 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 and character arcs.
How long should a synopsis be?
Keep your movie synopsis to one page or less.
Okay, so how do I approach a 1-page 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 key 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 details. 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 major plot of 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 core idea of 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 movie idea or TV show. 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!