Screenplay Synopsis Writing: Film, Novel, Movie

What Is Synopsis?

If you wonder, how to write a screenplay synopsis, here is the answer for you. But first, you have to understand that what is synopsis? A synopsis is a short summary of your screenplay. It is a brief description, which is only one page long or 400 words. A synopsis is about to lead characters of your movie and the situations they pass through as the movie builds up. A synopsis is considered a good one if the focus is on conflict and its resolution. Some writers prefer to write synopsis after the completion of the screenplay. However, it is good to write in the beginning. A synopsis is also helpful for the writers, as they can develop the idea and whole movie on its basis. A synopsis is not about telling the complete detailed story. It should encourage the reader to see the movie. If you have no idea about how to write a film synopsis, this information can be helpful for you.

Parts of a synopsis

If we talk about the parts of the synopsis, it can be…

  • Characters
  • Action
  • Dialogues
  • Subtext

If you are not well aware of these, you can hire service for writing a screenplay synopsis as well.

What We Need to Be Aware of When Writing A Good Synopsis

  • A movie synopsis should not more than a page, the lesser the better.
  • Beginning scenes should be limited to first few sentences only.
  • Mention the place, where this story is happening.
  • Describe characters, at least the lead roles.
  • It should not be a detailed account.
  • Mention important event or confits.
  • Write in the present tense.
  • Paragraphs should be linked to each other.
  • The flow should be understandable.
  • Convince the reader that this screenplay can be an interesting movie.
  • Ending scene should also get a place at the end.
  • A synopsis should be written in your own style.
  • Proofread your document. It should be free from grammatical and spelling errors.

Checklist for Writing A Screenplay Synopsis If Using It to Pitch Your Screenplay

  • A title should be at the top of the page.
  • Leave a line blank and write “synopsis by” on the next.
  • Leave another blank line and write your name and contact details.
  • Tell the setting of your screenplay.
  • Mention the background of the story with respect to time and place.
  • It should be three-act structure screenplay.
  • Write in the present tense.
  • Explain the lead roles, as they will be seen in the story.
  • Include important events, which shape your story.
  • Avoid the use of exact dialogues.
  • Write ending very carefully, it should be a strong one.

Summarizing the Plot

When you are writing synopsis movie, you have to write it carefully. It is the basis on which your creativity and writing skills will be evaluated. It can be a turning point in your life if you got selected. Here are a few steps to write a plot synopsis, which you will find helpful.

  • Start with logline: It should be just one or two sentences long. It gives an idea to the reader that what this story is about. Make sure it contains the main characters.
  • Present positive characters: In plot synopsis, mention the lead roles and what they are doing in the movie. People love to see positivity and strong characters.
  • Act I summary: In this part of summary introduce characters and the setup of your story. It should be an only half page long.
  • Act II summary: In this part of the summery show the confit and disputes between the characters. It can be one-page long.
  • Act III: This part should tell about the resolution of conflicts and disputes. It should also be half page only.
  • Suitable title: give a suitable title to your story. Director of the movie can change it according to his own perception, so don’t waste much of your time.

If you will make a story plot outline, things will be easier for you.

Following the Basic Guidelines

If your question is how to write a novel synopsis or it’s a screenplay synopsis, you have to follow some basic guidelines. These are general guidelines; some specific ones vary from project to project.


  • Name your synopsis: Synopsis is an important part of your screenplay treatment, so you need to add the word synopsis and the title of your movie in the header of the document. It might seem a useless thing but actually, it’s not.


  • Provide your contact information: The first page of synopsis should contain your name and contact information, like email, phone contact and mailing address. You can also write your writer’s registration number here.


  • Length: It is a synopsis, so you are not supposed to write the entire story. It should be a brief account. It should take only 3 -4 minutes to read. The aim should be to write not more than two pages. Don’t write it as brief as one page and try not to extend it more than three pages. The readers are not interested in long stories.
  • Use present tense: Synopsis should be written in present tense, no matter it has few parts set in future or even past. The screenplay will work according to your writing not according to the time setting.
  • Narrated by the third person: Story should be narrated by the third person. Use pronouns like “he”, “she” and “they”.
  • Spacing: It should be single-spaced document. Double space can be used between two paragraphs. Don’t use indentation, it helps the reader to understand in better way.
  • Font style and size: Use standards font like Arial or Times New Roman. The size should be 12 pts. If they require something different, use accordingly.
  • Use simple language: The document should be in the simple language, which is easily understandable for the people. If you will use fancy language, people will not be able to read the complete story.
  • Get a third-party view: Proofreading is very important, and the third person can do it better for your short movie script. Request a friend or family member to help you. Ask them to point out the grammatical and spelling mistakes. If they find something confusing, you have to change that and make it more simple and clear.
  • Be ready for edits: Every company has different guidelines for their writers. So, you may have to edit, when you are writing a movie script, to fit in the requirements of that particular company.

Synopsis Is the Second Step of Script Treatment

Script treatment is an important document, which illustrates the story, briefly. It is considered important from the marketing point of view. Logline is considered the first step in writing the script treatment, while synopsis is the second. In treatment, the synopsis should be written as a three-act story. We can break down any story into three parts. Here we are describing the breakdown.

Act I: It is the first part of the story. Basically, it describes the beginning and setting of stories. It also gives an introduction of characters. However, in synopsis or treatment, we mention all things very briefly. You can introduce just the main characters of lead roles. Similarly, narrating the story in detail is not required here.

Act II: This is the middle of the story or how the story develops. Basically, it is about the conflicts between characters. Characters interact with each other aggressively and lead to the climax of a story.

Act III: This part is about the end of story. Here the conflicts between characters are resolved. All the strings are tied here, and each conflict gets to a logical end.

When you write a movie script, you have to write a synopsis of that as well. A synopsis is the basis of treatment. When you complete a synopsis, it means you have done your homework for the treatment writing. You have to add a little more details in your synopsis. Not only that, but you also have to correct the sentence structure as well. A little more work and your treatment will be ready.