Screenwriters know that a synopsis is crucial for pitching your script to producers, agents, and other industry experts.
A synopsis is a condensed version of your screenplay that provides an overall summary of the plot, characters, and possibly themes. You only get one chance at a good first impression; make sure your synopsis gives potential readers the best introduction to your idea!
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Keep reading to learn more about writing a synopsis and to check out some screenplay synopsis examples!
What is a script synopsis?
A synopsis gives a broad summary of the screenplay's plot, characters, and ideas. Writers frequently utilize the synopsis to pitch their idea to producers, agents, and other industry professionals.
The tone of your synopsis should match the script. If you have a comedy script, inject your synopsis with humor. If your script is horror, your synopsis should feel tense and scary.
A synopsis can also be written before the script to guide the writer when they work on the actual screenplay. The main characters, the setting, the primary conflict, and the story's resolution should all be included in a synopsis without getting too heavy into details.
Screenplay Synopsis Examples
Writer's Digest provides an example of how to write a synopsis of the 1996 Ron Howard-directed thriller "Ransom." This synopsis is a good example of how to narrow down the focus and talk about the main character's journey and how they interact with the major plot points.
Script Reader Pro wrote this synopsis example for Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash." This is a good example of what a one-page synopsis should look like.
Free Film Synopsis Template
Another way to understand what a synopsis should look like and include can be found by looking at a 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, it is good to include the logline, the synopsis itself, and your contact information. The synopsis should be between 3-5 paragraphs in length.
No Film School provides a helpful free template for writing a one-pager.
Video Collective also provides a free synopsis template that guides you through the writing process.
How long should a synopsis be for a screenplay?
While a one-page synopsis calls for one page, other times, length won't be specified, and you'll see screenplay synopses between one to three pages long. Usually, shorter is better, and I like to keep my synopsis at the one-page mark.
The information that the synopsis covers should be straightforward and succinct. Don't bog the description of your story down with too many details. A synopsis isn't a treatment or an outline; rather, it should be a brief and intriguing summary that entices the reader to read the script.
How long should a synopsis be for a TV show?
As with features, try to keep TV show synopses one page long.
I write more television than features, but when it comes time to write a synopsis for a TV show, I struggle! I like to cover the overall plot of the pilot, like a normal summary as you'd do for a film, and then have a final paragraph that talks about where the show is going or what the core idea of the series will look like.
It's a challenge to write a one-page summary for a TV show, but in that single page, strive to make the reader want to know more!
Writing a synopsis can be challenging, and getting the content right may take several passes. It's an especially good exercise to go through before you start writing your screenplay, as it can help you focus on where your story is headed.
I hope this blog gave you enough information and examples of screenplay synopses so that the next time you have to write one, it'll be a piece of cake! Remember, try to make your synopsis concise when in doubt! Make sure your synopsis has the tone and feel of your script; it should make readers want to know more. Happy writing!