What is a Synopsis? Everything You Need To Know

What is a synopsis? You have it all in your head, but that idea or plot doesn’t have a skeleton. This post discusses the various facets of synopsis regarding media, movies, and literature. So enjoy the read to know everything about it!

What is a Synopsis?

A synopsis is a brief description of the concept or idea that helps to sell the same. It is usually written for a screenplay, a TV episode, or a novel and can be one to three pages long.

How to Write a Synopsis for a Movie | Script Reader Pro

What Is The Synopsis of a Script?

A movie synopsis is a summary of the plot, the characters, and the core concept. It is the first look at your idea and story and showcases your writing ability. Writing a movie synopsis helps convince the film industry people to read the screenplay. It is also called a “one-pager” as it will be mainly one page long. The synopsis can be long or short, depending on your concept or idea.

Importance of Synopsis

Synopsis helps the agents, producers, managers, and other executives to understand and decide if they can proceed with a screenplay. It also allows entry-level screenwriters to pitch in by creating interest in their plot. However, established writers usually don’t need a synopsis and carry on with the screenplay. 

Difference Between Synopsis, Logline, and Treatment

A synopsis is often confused with logline and treatment. But the difference is simple to understand. 

  • A synopsis is a summary of the script, usually covered in one page.
  • Logline is a one-sentence script summary. 
  • At the same time, treatment describes the script screen-by-screen to pitch a movie.

Examples of  Synopsis

Read down the short synopsis of the Harry Potter:

Harry Potter, a young wizard orphaned as an infant, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He makes many friends and enemies, along with learning witchcraft. With the help of his friends, he thwarts the attempted comeback of the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents when he was one year old but failed to kill him.

Here, the synopsis outlines the plot and the main character without much detailing and explanation.

Synopsis of a Movie

The synopsis of a movie should create excitement and anticipation among the listeners. When a new movie is announced,  the producers release the written synopsis and the official trailer. A trailer is a visual form of the synopsis. Look below for the movie synopsis:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Story – Synopsis

Synopsis of a TV Series

Any TV series producer’s standard practice is to give the audience a written preview. First, it introduces the main character, plot, and theme, thus providing an idea of the series. For example, the synopsis for the TV series This Is Us goes like this:

This Is Us is a wonderfully emotional story about Pearson’s family and struggles. Rebecca and Jack Pearson gave birth to triplets in 1980, and one of the three died at birth. Later, they adopt Randall, and they are called the “Big Three.” This is Us is a heartwarming and emotional roller coaster of the Pearson family and how they face their struggles, hold on to each other and keep the memories.

This Is Us | Season 1 Trailer

Synopsis of a Novel

It’s an age-old practice to read the synopsis at the back of the book while choosing a novel. Blurbs give the reader an insight into the novel’s story and plot.

Synopsis of an Academic Paper

Besides movies, tv-series, and novels, a synopsis is also used in academic papers, articles, and lectures. It gives a snapshot of the main points of the paper to be presented, or the article to be written and is highly important in research papers. 

How To Write a Synopsis?

Before starting to write a synopsis for a movie, always remember to know the general rules and the format. Below are the basic guidelines:

  • Header
  • Logline
  • Summary
  • Short and crisp


The header comes at the top, including the title of the screenplay, your name, and contact information. The header is for the recipient to reach out to the writer to communicate further.


Never forget to include the logline in the first paragraph, as it gives the reader an idea about the storyline. It makes the write-up appealing to the reader and identifies the main character and the challenge. The below points can create a great logline:

  • Main Conflict
  • Kindling incident
  • Important character
  • Antagonist 


Summarize the screenplay and split the paragraphs if one is longer than the other. Stick to the three-act structure. Always write in the third person, present tense. E.g., Larry falls into the pit. 

  • The first part is the setup. Here, the story begins, and the main character is introduced. This part also includes the character’s name, challenges, life, what they like, and their interests, care, and concern.
  • The second part is called the conflict. This part includes the twists in the plot and conflicts the character faces. In this part, the story heats up and can go up to half a page.
  • The third part is the climax. Here, the conflict ends, and the part explains what happens to the character thereafter. In this part, the story comes together, and remember not to leave any loose ends.

Character details

This includes the below details of the character but must not exceed one paragraph.

  • Character’s names and occupations.
  • The time period of the story.
  • Where the characters work and live.
  • Reason for telling the story.
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Love interest

Always type the main character in capital letters when you first mention it in the synopsis. There is no need to include the names of the more minor characters.

Make it Short

A synopsis for a screenplay can ideally be a one-pager as it takes just a few minutes for the reader to grasp the plot and storyline.

What Should Be in Your Synopsis?

A synopsis should reflect every beat of the story and character. A written synopsis must speak the same as an official trailer. Make sure to build an appealing synopsis that sells your screenplay. Look below for a few essential things that you should include:

  • The synopsis must not be more than one or two pages
  • It should give the whole idea of the story and the characters.
  • Include the critical events of the story.
  • The lines and paragraphs slide into the story.
  • Tell about the ending and how the characters leave.
  • Never forget the tone of the screenplay.
  • Proofread for style, grammar, usage of words, etc.

The Do’s of Writing a Synopsis

It would be best to remember a few things while writing a movie synopsis. However, writing a synopsis is not rocket science. It is pretty easy when you know the details. Below is a list what needs to be followed while writing a synopsis:

  • Length is a crucial part of a synopsis. Always keep your write-up to one page. A lengthy one defeats the purpose of a synopsis and cannot be called one.
  • Tone and voice speak the story of the script. A synopsis for a movie should be in the present tense and narrated in the third person. The style and representation of a synopsis should be the same as the script.
  • Characters and their introduction always make a difference. The characterization should be unique and fit into the one-page write-up.
  • Dialogues enhance the synopsis. But it should be crisp and used only to spice up the characters.
  • The ending should be clear and must not include anything that the official trailer doesn’t have.

The Don’ts of Writing a Synopsis

Now, you are a pro at writing a synopsis and know all the tricks to hit it right. Yet, there are again few rules to avoid making mistakes. Look below to know the don’ts.

  • Characters have to be mentioned in the limitations. The synopsis should be brief, with only the main characters of the plot.
  • Never mention the twists and turns of the plot. Too much detailing in the synopsis may ruin the suspense.
  • Keep to a simple language that is readable and quick to read. Too many flowery words are unnecessary, and the reader may miss the plot and storyline.
  • A synopsis is not a marketing tool but a creative and short summary.
  • Pay attention to the middle part, and don’t rush to the end. This will only give a vague outline of the story to the reader.

Tips for writing a compelling synopsis

The below tips help for a compelling summary of your screenplay.

Hold to the main plot and character

Always focus on what is necessary for the story. Avoid the minor and secondary characters and subplots to keep the synopsis crisp.

Movie genre style

Adhere to a style that spruces up the emotions connected with the story’s tone. 

Simple font

Use a simple font like Times New Roman or Arial instead of anything glossy, and a font size of 12 will be ideal.

Simple language

Always use simple language that is readable by anyone. Avoid using adjectives and adverbs, and keep the language straightforward.


Get feedback from your friends and family for any grammar or spelling errors. Then, read and read to edit any error till it gets flawless.


Narration must be compelling, so each beat should cause the next beat, which is the effect of the previous beat


Emphasize the development of the character and pay attention to the characterization of the main characters.


Bring together all the loose ends and end the synopsis with a satisfying conclusion. An unclear decision can be the spoiler of the story.


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