What is a Synopsis - Header

You finally wrote your screenplay, novel, or academic book. Now what? You want to grab an agent or editor’s attention. How might you do that? Writing a synopsis is an age-old tool to get your project noticed. But what is a synopsis? Is a film synopsis or book synopsis different? Let’s learn the basics so you can move your project along.

Synopsis Definition

What exactly is a synopsis?

Describing your story quickly and succinctly is critical to selling it. There aren’t many differences when it comes to writing one for a book or film. Let’s outline the basics that any writer can follow.

SYNOPSIS DEFINITION

What is a synopsis?

synopsis is a brief summary of your story to garner interest. It’s essentially a would-be verbal pitch, written down. They exist across all written mediums. Screenwriters, novelists, and TV writers all use synopses and there isn’t much difference. between them. A film synopsis and book synopsis is a summary that is plot focused. It summarizes the screenplay or novel anywhere from half a page to one full page. They pay attention to conflict and resolution. 

WHAT TO CONSIDER:

  • A page or less (recommended 500 words or less)
  • Narrative Arc - Plot
  • Conflict and Resolution
  • Active Voice 
  • Use dialogue in short bursts
  • Have an ending (again for the agent or editor- they can know)

If you’re interested in how to write a movie synopsis, read our full article here. It goes over the do’s and don’ts of how to write a film synopsis and dives into best practices.

SYNOPSIS EXAMPLE

Learn from a film synopsis example

The best way to learn is by trying it out for yourself. So we hope you have a bit more confidence and can now write one of these summaries for your own project. You can always practice on films you’ve seen. We threw an older movie, Ransom, into StudioBinder’s screenwriter software, just so you could get an idea of what one looks like.


We zoomed out to show what the length should (roughly) look like.


It’s a simple one page summary of the film.

Some agents may prefer you separate it into acts. You can do this easily in the software, it looks like this:

But remember, this is not a film treatment, (learn the difference here). So as long as you’re describing the world of your story with brevity and clarity, from a bird’s eye view, you should please those asking for it. 

Up Next

How to Write a Movie Synopsis

You now have a general understanding of what the synopsis is, and what it entails. But knowing is different than doing, and there are some techniques to learn so you can nail it, and sell your project.

Check it out below. 

Up Next: Write the Movie Synopsis →
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