The thought of writing a movie synopsis is a turn-off for most screenwriters, and even though these screenwriters don’t like writing it; they must, because synopses are movie producers’ bestie.

I call synopses movie producers’ best friend because it saves them time from reading 70-120 pages of a screenplay and in the end, they don’t like the screenplay.

Question:

What exactly is a movie synopsis and how is it written?

According to Oxford Languages:

Synopsis: a brief summary or general survey of something.

According to Wiktionary:

Synopsis: A brief summary of the major points of a written work, either as prose or as a table; an abridgement or condensation of a work.

Let’s combine both definitions to get what we want as screenwriters.

Read: How To Write A Logline.

Combined Definition:

Synopsis: A brief summary of the major points of a screenplay.

From the combined definition above, you can see why synopses are loved by movie producers.

Instead of reading 70-120 pages of a screenplay, the movie producer will be reading less than or equal to a page or at most two pages because the screenwriter has summarized all the “major” points.

In Nigeria, if after reading your synopsis, and the movie producer likes what you’ve written, your screenplay is as good as sold.

Read: Plot Structure In A Screenplay.

Let’s jump right into how to write since we’re done with its definition. For anything you’ve written to be called a synopsis, it must have the following.

  • Title: Yes, a title. You read that right. I don’t know the reason you’ll give as a screenwriter for giving your reader something to read that doesn’t have a name. Your screenplay title should be centred.
  • Submission: Beneath the title, you should let your reader know what you’ve submitted to him/her is a synopsis. You can do this by writing “Synopsis by” or “A feature screenplay by”, and this should be centred.
  • Screenwriter: Your reader should know the name of the person whose synopsis he/she is reading. This should be centred.
  • Contact Details: The sole reason for sending your synopsis to a producer is to be contacted if he/she likes what you’ve written. How can that happen when the producer can’t find your contact details (email address and phone number)? There are two ways to write this: it’s either beneath your name (centred) or at the end of your write-up (bottom left).
  • Logline: This one-sentence write-up should appear beneath the phone number (for screenwriters who prefer writing their contact details above) or beneath the name (for screenwriters who prefer writing their contact details at the bottom). This shouldn’t be centred, but written from the left to the right margin of the page.
  • Synopsis: Beneath the logline, write “Synopsis:” (Left of the page), then beneath the “Synopsis:”, start your write-up.

Guidelines:

  • Introduction: To start writing your synopsis, you’ll have to introduce your protagonist to your reader.
  • Block Letters: When a name appears for the first time, write it in capital letters.
  • Present Tense: Your write-up should be written in the present tense and in the third-person singular.
  • Paragraphs: Use paragraphs.
  • Length: The length of synopses shouldn’t be more than a page, at most two pages because you’re summarizing the major points of your screenplay.
  • Font: Using MS Word, your font size should be 12 and your font should either be Arial or Times New Roman because they are easy-to-read fonts. The title can have a different font, but it should be clear.

Read: Protagonist And Antagonist.