To get agents and producers to read a full screenplay, an author has to provide them with a synopsis. What is the definition of synopsis? Is there a helpful synopsis writing service? How to write a synopsis that stands out and convinces the executives that the material has the potential? In this article, you will find answers to all these questions and more.
A synopsis is a concise summary of a full screen story. Although it is brief, a synopsis contains the information about all the crucial elements of the story, such as characters and their dynamics, the storyline and important plot twists, conflicts and decisive events. All of that should appear in a chronological order (meaning in the order the events happen in the story).
Here is a shorter definition of synopsis: it is a sales tool that screenwriters use to grab the readers’ attention and to convince them to invest in their project, ergo a synopsis must be interesting and, most importantly, cinematic.
Sometimes writers mistake synopses for treatments. However, these are different papers and they are created to serve different purposes. While a synopsis is a short retelling of your story aimed at evoking interest, a treatment is a scene-by-scene description of the story. It contains all information necessary to reproduce a short film. Typically, dialogues are excluded although there are also treatments with dialogues from the main scenes because they help reflect the content more effectively.
Unlike synopses, treatments are written at a later stage. This is an intermediary step that allows evaluating the play one final time before investing the resources into it. Treatments are a perfect solution for this purpose but they are not as good a marketing tool as a synopsis is, so if your goal is marketing, then you should choose synopsis. If you are wondering how to write this paper or ask yourself, ‘How long should a synopsis be?’
Use the Following Guidelines on Writing an Effective Synopsis
- Length. Here is the perfect formula for deciding on the recommended length for your synopsis: it should contain all the best moments of your story but should also take no more than five minutes to read. A good synopsis is between two and three double-spaced pages. Squeezing a story into one page will translate into a boringly dry message while going over the limit might discourage the readers from considering the story in the first place. That is why experts recommend aiming for two- or three-page synopsis.
- Style. Rather than explaining the story, you should try to tell it. The best way to do it is by using present tense and third person narration. From the beginning till the very end the reader should be able to understand the place and time of the events as well as understand the characters’ feelings, motives, etc. due to connected and well-organized sequence of events. Remember that a synopsis should not contain any cinematic transitions.
- Characters. The descriptions of your characters should be short, informative, and memorable. Instead of physical descriptions, concentrate on their traits and temperament. The characters have to become the focus of the story, so it is preferable to reveal their motivation and emotional reaction to the events. A defining feature of good storytelling is the narrator’s ability to not only explain what and how the characters do something but also say why they do it.
- Dialogues. Dialogues are more typical for treatments, but you may include brief dialogues in your synopsis if you feel that they will help you draw a more comprehensive image of a personality. Just keep in mind that they have to be brief and sweet, like all other elements of your synopsis.
- Action. Without going into excessive detail, provide as many elements as necessary to represent the sequence of actions. This can be achieved by focusing on the most important elements or choosing the rhythm that support a unique and exciting pacing.
- Subtext. This is the underlying message you are trying to convey with your story. A successful and memorable story should have an overarching purpose and it has to be evident from the synopsis. Besides, the meaning behind the actions generates emotional response, which is another technique to engage the reader.
- Act Demarcations. Act demarcations are not included in a completed screenplay and neither should they be in your synopsis. However, you still want to show the readers what the approximate pace of the story will be, so the structure of your synopsis should perform a similar function. You can choose a traditional format for Hollywood, 25-50-25, where each number represents the percentage of the page count respectively. So in a three-page synopsis, 1/5 page will describe Act I, about one page will be devoted to Act II, and 1/5 page will describe the rip-roaring action of Act III.
Are you expected to reveal the ending? Or is to better to surround the story with an intrigue? Reveling the ending is absolutely necessary. The readers remember only the beginning and the ending of the story, so not only should you present the last lines but also make sure that they are memorable and create a vivid image in the reader’s mind.
As you work on your synopsis, never forget that it is going to be read by potential investors, so it should be carefully proofread. If you do not want your readers to be distracted by horrible grammar and you to be branded as an amateur, do not ignore this last preparation step. You do not want your story to be rejected just because you were too busy to switch on spellcheck, do you?
Congratulations, you are now familiar with all the basics. At this point, the question that is bothering you must be: How do I use these tips to write a synopsis that brings me the desired result? What should I do to raise the chances of making the readers interested and willing to read the full screenplay?
Try Some of These Sound Strategies
- Start the story with a log line. This means setting the premise before starting to narrate the story. In such a way, you can prepare the readers for the events that are about to unfold and help them visualize the story. A log line is a one- or two-sentence summary (preferably containing irony) of the act. So, a logline at should give the sense of what is at stake and how the protagonist and other characters feel about it. For example: “An insecure teenage boy suffering from misunderstandings with his parents accidentally gets into a time machine that gets him 20 years into the past, where he interferes with his young mother and father’s meeting. His mission now is to get back in 2019 while also make sure his parents meet each other and fall in love or he will never be born.”
- Start with a description of the main character in action. As soon as the story opens, explain what the protagonist is trying to achieve. Try to make your readers interested in the success of the character.
- Begin with establishing an obvious cause-and-effect connection. A story is not simply a set of actions that happen chronologically (or not). In your synopsis, strive to reveal the link between the events and characters’ expectations, motivations, and actions. To put it simply, apart from describing what happens, also explain why it happens.
- Concentrate on emotions. And make them strong. Love is not enough for people; they need passion. Fear is not what will make them scared. Give them terror. Sadness is what readers get in everyday life, so they do not need it in your story. To make them feel something, give them emotional trauma. A story can be called success only if the reader remains impressed after he/she finished reading it and emotions is what will help you achieve this.
- Describe your central set-pieces. These are extended and unified scenes that make your story what it is. Of course, a synopsis is abbreviated on purpose, but experienced screenwriters recommend including some three or four major set-pieces to get the readers immersed in the story. These will be the main selling points of the synopsis.
- Think form the perspective of cinematography. Use words that give readers a strong visual response. Use them to pain not the story but the movie.
- Finish with a big bang. Yes, powerful endings are absolutely necessary if you want to sell the story. Your synopsis should make the readers feel what you want the audience to feel as the screen fades out. A synopsis is a miniature version of the complete screenplay, so it must show the potential investors what emotional and intellectual impact it will produce on the audience.
How Can a Synopsis Writing Service Help You and Your Career?
For writers with limited experience submitting a synopsis is a real challenge. Typical tasks include writing a synopsis of a book, a thesis, etc. In this case, the most reasonable move will be using online synopsis writing services where experience writers and editorial staff will make sure your paper meets the standards. If you need such professional assistance, our company is ready to offer it.
As the definition of synopsis goes, it is a succinct summary of lengthy document, such as a screenplay, book, or dissertation. A synopsis includes the most crucial information necessary to paint a comprehensive image of the whole story. This might be a challenging home task in college but it is also a vital selling tool for screenwriters, novelists, etc. A synopsis can be used to do the following:
- Effectively summarize a bigger text
- Ignite curiosity in the readers
- Provide a prologue
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