Sell Your Story: Writing a Strong Synopsis for Your Screenplay

Mar 17, 2023

A synopsis is the art of distilling your screenplay into a powerful summary.  The idea is to give potential readers or producers an idea of your story by compellingly highlighting major plot points and themes. Writing a good synopsis can be challenging, but it’s essential to garnering interest for the screenplay. It is the sales pitch for your story. Here are some tips on how to write a good synopsis for your screenplay.

Keep It Short and Simple

A good synopsis should be concise and easy to read. Keep it short, between one to three pages, and make sure it covers the essential elements of your story. Avoid going into too much detail, especially about subplots or minor characters.

Highlight Your Main Characters and Their Goals

Your synopsis should focus on your main characters and their goals. This is what will drive your story forward, and it’s what will interest your readers or producers. Ensure you mention your protagonist, their motivation, and what’s at stake for them.

Include the Major Plot Points

Your synopsis should cover the major plot points of your screenplay. This includes the inciting incident, the turning point, and the climax. Make sure you give a clear sense of how your story unfolds and what the stakes are for your characters.

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Use Active Voice and Present Tense

Use active voice and present tense when writing your synopsis. This will make your summary more engaging and help readers visualise your story. For example, instead of saying, “The car was stolen,” say, “The thief stole the car.”

Avoid Giving Away the Ending

Your synopsis should not give away the ending of your screenplay. You want to create a sense of suspense and anticipation for your readers or producers. Make sure you leave them wanting more and eager to read or see the rest of your story.

Edit and Revise

After you’ve written your synopsis, edit and revise it several times, making sure it’s clear, concise, and free of typos or grammatical errors. Get feedback from others, such as fellow writers or trusted friends, and make revisions as needed.

Example of a Good Synopsis

Here’s an example of a good synopsis for a fictional screenplay:

“In ‘The Last Dance,’ a retired ballroom dancer, Alice, is forced to confront her past when a former dance partner shows up at her doorstep. With the help of her estranged daughter and a young dance protégé, Alice must overcome her fear of failure and dance one last time in a national competition. As she rehearses, Alice learns to let go of her regrets and find joy in the present moment. But when a secret from her past threatens to derail her comeback, Alice must decide what’s more important – the competition or her own peace of mind.”

 

Here’s another example of a good synopsis for the movie “Moonlight”:

“Moonlight” is a powerful and moving coming-of-age story that explores themes of identity, sexuality, and race. The film follows the journey of a young African-American man named Chiron as he navigates the complexities of growing up in a tough neighbourhood in Miami. Divided into three parts, “Moonlight” follows Chiron’s life from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to accept his identity and find his place in the world. With the help of a kind-hearted drug dealer named Juan and his girlfriend Teresa, Chiron begins to understand who he is and who he wants to be.

 

Writing a good synopsis takes time and effort, but it’s essential to getting your screenplay noticed. Follow these tips, and use this example as a guide to writing a summary that will grab the attention of your readers or producers. Good luck!

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