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Synopsis Writing Guidelines

A synopsis is not just a succinct summary of a bigger work but also the only chance an author might have to compel producers and agents to read his or her work. What are the defining features of a synopsis? How to write a successful synopsis and how can synopsis writing services help you do this? How to convince the target readers that your material has the potential? The following article will provide you with the answers to these questions and more.

A synopsis briefly summarizes a full text, such as a screenplay or book. Although it is supposed to be brief, a synopsis must contain the basic information, including character dynamics, storyline and plot, conflicts and their resolution, etc. This information should be presented in a chronological order and should reflect the order of the events as they appear in the actual story.
A shorter synopsis definition is that is a marketing tool for screenwriters. They use it to attract the agents’ attention to their work and convince them to invest in it. This means that a synopsis must be interesting and cinematic.

Synopses might be mistaken for treatments but they differ from cinematic synopses because they serve a different purpose. A synopsis retells a story in short with the aim to invoke interest in the readers, while a treatment is a more detailed description of the story, usually consisting of a scene-by-scene summary. This information is necessary for film production. Although some treatments include dialogues, they are typically excluded to make the presentation more effective.

Another difference between synopses and treatments is that the latter are created at a later stage. A treatment is a final step that allows evaluating the play once again before making the investment into it. Treatments serve this purpose perfectly well but as a marketing tool, they are completely ineffective. So if your goal is marketing, you should write a synopsis. If you would like to find out how to create a powerful synopsis, read the guidelines below.

Guidelines on Writing a Strong Synopsis

  • Length. There is a useful formula you can use to create a perfect synopsis: it must present all the best moments of the full story but it should take around five minutes to read, no more. Typically, this means two to three double-spaced pages of text. If you try to squeeze your story into one page, you will end up with a boring and excessively dry message. However, if the synopsis is too long, it might be left unread at all. For this reason, experts recommend the length of two to three pages.
  • Style. Try to tell your story instead of explaining it. The easiest and most convenient way to do it is by using Present Simple and third-person narration. Make sure the readers understand the place and time of the narration as well as the order of the events. The motives of the characters and their feelings should be understood, as well. Avoid cinematic transitions in synopses.
  • Characters. Their descriptions must be brief, yet informative, but most of all, they have to be memorable. You might include physical descriptions if you think they are necessary but try to concentrate on their temperament and traits. The characters are the focus of your narration, so describe their emotions and reactions to events in detail. The ability to explain not only how the characters feel but also why they do it is the most important feature of effective storytelling.
  • Dialogues. Although these are more common in treatments, your synopsis might feature dialogues if you feel that they contribute the story in a meaningful way. The only thing to keep in mind when including a dialogue is that it has to be brief and sweet, just like the rest of the synopsis.
  • Action. Provide enough details to represent the sequence of actions but avoid redundancies. This can be done by either including only the most crucial components or by sticking to the elements that support the unique rhythm and pace of the storyline.
  • Subtext. Stories usually convey an underlying message. To make your story a success, add to it an overarching purpose. This purpose must be evident form the synopsis. Besides, a subtext will help you generate emotional response, which is the key to an engaging and compelling text.
  • Act demarcations. They are not included in the screenplay and they should not appear in your synopsis. At the same time, the readers should be able to understand the pace of the story, so use the structure of your synopsis to guide them. One of the ways to do this is by using a traditional Hollywood format – 25-50-25. Each number corresponds to the percentage of the page count. For example, cover Act I in the 1/5 of the page, then describe Act II in about one page, and finish with blazing action of Act III, which will take 1/5 page.

What about the ending of the story? Are you expected to reveal it in your synopsis? Or maybe you should surround your story with an intrigue? Revealing the ending is a must in a synopsis. The audience usually remembers only the beginning and the ending of a story, so not only should you include the last lines of the story in the synopsis, but you should also make them memorable.
As you write a synopsis of your story, always keep in mind that it is intended for potential investors. This means that, first of all, the document must be carefully proofread. Mistakes and typos will put off the readers, so if you do not want them to think about you as an amateur, take this last step seriously. You do not want your work to be rejected simply because you did not bother to do spellcheck, do you?

When you have already familiarized yourself with the basics, you must be wondering how to put these tips to practice and create a synopsis that helps you achieve your goals. In other words, how to raise your chances of convincing the readers to read your screenplay?

These Strategies Will Help

  1. Start with a logline. This means setting the premise for the story you are about to narrate. A logline will warm up the readers and will help them visualize the events. This is a one- or two-sentence summary of the story. An effective logline usually contains irony and explains what is at stake as well as how the protagonist is going to react to the situation.
  2. What follows is the description of the characters. After the opening, provide an explanation of what the protagonists hope to achieve. Your readers should relate to the protagonist and be interested in his or her success.
  3. Establish a clear cause-and-effect link. Do not treat your story as a mere set of chronological (or not) actions. Instead, create a synopsis that reveals the connection between the events and the feelings, expectations, and motivations of the characters. In simple words, in addition to describing what happens, explain why it happens.
  4. Focus on emotions and make them strong. If your story is about love, make it passionate. Fear is not enough to scare people. Give them terror. Sadness is something people encounter on a daily basis, so give them emotional trauma. If your readers are impressed after they have finished reading your story, then it was a success. Emotions are exactly what you need to concentrate on if you want to achieve this.
  5. Provide a description of the key set pieces. Include a comprehensive description of the main scenes to make your story what it is. Even though a synopsis should provide an abbreviated story, experts recommend including a couple of set pieces to get the readers involved in the story. These will be the main selling pieces of the work.
  6. Use cinematographic perspective. The words should trigger a strong emotional response in the readers. Try to choose the words that will paint the movie and not just tell the story.
  7. Finish with grandeur. A powerful ending is a must if you want to sell your work. Strive to create a synopsis that conveys the feelings that your audience will have after the screen fades out. Since a synopsis is a small version of the full screenplay, it must tell the potential investors how it will influence the audience.

Give Your Career a Boost with Professional Writing Services

If you are an author with limited synopsis writing experience, you definitely need some help with this task. Experienced writers and professional editorial staff will help you create a paper that meets the highest standards. Our company is ready to offer professional assistance.

Our Benefits

A synopsis must be brief, yet it also has to paint a comprehensive picture in the reader’s mind. Although a synopsis is a vital selling tool, writing a good synopsis is a true challenge. With professional assistance, you will create a synopsis that:

  • Successfully summarize a bigger story
  • Sparks curiosity in the readers
  • Serves as a prologue

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