Synopsis – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Screenwriting Glossary Terms

I. What is a Synopsis in Screenwriting?

A synopsis in screenwriting is a brief summary of the main plot points of a screenplay. It is typically used as a marketing tool to pitch a script to producers, agents, or potential investors. A well-written synopsis should provide a clear and concise overview of the story, highlighting the key characters, conflicts, and themes.

II. How to Write a Synopsis for a Screenplay

When writing a synopsis for a screenplay, it is important to keep it concise and focused on the main storyline. Start by introducing the main characters and setting the scene. Then, outline the major plot points, including the inciting incident, rising action, climax, and resolution. Be sure to highlight the central conflict and the character’s journey throughout the story.

III. What to Include in a Synopsis

A well-written synopsis should include the following elements:
– Title of the screenplay
– Logline (a one-sentence summary of the story)
– Brief overview of the main characters
– Setting and time period
– Main conflict and central theme
– Major plot points, including the inciting incident, rising action, climax, and resolution

IV. Tips for Writing an Effective Synopsis

– Keep it concise: A synopsis should be no longer than one to two pages.
– Focus on the main storyline: Highlight the central conflict and the character’s journey.
– Use active voice: Write in the present tense and avoid passive voice.
– Avoid spoilers: Do not give away the ending or major plot twists.
– Edit and revise: Make sure to proofread your synopsis for errors and clarity.

V. Common Mistakes to Avoid in Writing a Synopsis

– Including too much detail: A synopsis should provide an overview of the story, not a detailed scene-by-scene breakdown.
– Not highlighting the central conflict: Make sure to clearly outline the main conflict and the stakes involved.
– Using vague language: Be specific in your descriptions and avoid generalizations.
– Ignoring formatting guidelines: Follow industry standards for formatting your synopsis.
– Not proofreading: Typos and errors can detract from the overall quality of your synopsis.

VI. Examples of Well-Written Synopses

1. “Inception” – A skilled thief who enters people’s dreams to steal their secrets is hired to plant an idea in a CEO’s mind, leading to a mind-bending journey through multiple dream levels.

2. “The Shawshank Redemption” – A man wrongly convicted of murder befriends a fellow inmate and orchestrates a daring escape from Shawshank prison, ultimately finding redemption and freedom.

3. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” – After a painful breakup, a couple undergoes a procedure to erase each other from their memories, only to rediscover their love for each other in a surreal and emotional journey.

In conclusion, a well-written synopsis is essential for effectively pitching a screenplay and capturing the attention of industry professionals. By following these guidelines and avoiding common mistakes, writers can create a compelling and engaging summary of their story.