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Cartoon of a writer.This is an email from Jerrol LeBaron of the Writers Script Network sent on 14th July 2002

Tips on writing a synopsis.

We have received request after request from writers asking for information on how to write a synopsis. Here are some tips on writing a synopsis. Also, below we have included a synopsis. I hesitate to send any synopsis as an example, as there is no such thing as a perfect synopsis. I am sure there are many synopses that have gotten better results. However, since there are so many writers that have requested information, I have chosen to give this one as an example.

We chose to distribute this particular one, out of the many that were provided, for several reasons:

After reading this synopsis, I have come to some conclusions as to why so many producers were interested in this unknown writer's script. They are as follows:

  1. There is always an interest in a script that can result in many more films, based upon the same premise and characters with a different situation (franchise potential - like the Bond, Mission Impossible, Die Hard, Superman movies, etc).
  2. It told the basic idea of the story in a page or less. (The industry standard for a synopsis is usually one page.)
  3. Even an idiot could read it and know what the story was about.
  4. The development person or producer could easily pitch the story to others (such as: an American James Bond).
  5. It did not contain specific details which would factually require further explanation, causing the synopsis to be longer than it should be. Nor did it leave the reader wondering what the writer meant by a particular paragraph or sentence.
  6. It did not unnecessarily complicate the explanation of the story by including every important character or detail in the script.

Number 1 above, does not apply to all scripts. However, in my opinion, 2-6 do. Though this synopsis is not the best one ever written and didn't really follow the 'beginning, middle and end' of the writer's script like some synopses do, it most certainly told the producer what the story was about. Regardless of how it is done, the writer needs to tell the producer what the story is about.

There is no question that anyone can look at this synopsis and find something to improve. It took restraint on Norma's, Maia's and on my part not to improve it ourselves, before providing writers with it. If we had have, we would be supplying you with a synopsis that we think would work, rather than one that did work.

Here is how this writer wrote the synopsis. She wrote several synopses for the script. Then the writer had her friend who was an English tutor for small children, critique it to make it understandable and easy to read. Another concern was to, as much as possible, make it so that each paragraph naturally led into the next paragraph (or at least didn't seem disjointed).

The test to any decent synopsis is (and these are IMPORTANT):

  1. Can the producer easily pitch it to others? (Don't forget this one.)
  2. From the first quick read, can anyone understand it instantly?
  3. Does it honestly give the producer an accurate picture of the story?

If a synopsis does not meet these three requirements, the odds are very great that the synopsis is in trouble. Writers should team up and practice writing synopses and loglines. Writers should get their synopses and loglines critiqued (by their peers) before submitting query letters.

Without further delay, here is the synopsis:

DAY OF RECKONING:

by Anonymous

ACTION-INTRIGUE

After his involvement in the Bay of Pigs and witnessing numerous other destructive deeds brought about by the KGB, CIA and other 'national security' agencies, JFK formed a secret agency known as 'Watchmen'. Its task: to ensure world peace and forward progress; to stop those agencies (Mafia, terrorists, KGB, etc.) which prevent such. They answer only to the President. It is the only US agency which has legal license to kill.

Leslie Slade, the first 'Watchman', trained his children and grandchildren well. Christian is the only family member who had no interest in being a Watchman, though amply qualified.

A cousin, by his death, involves Christian in the most serious threat to the safety of the US and world that the Watchmen have every encountered.

A weapon, funded and created by the CIA (in the name of 'national security') has been stolen. Three liters of this weapon have the power to wipe out all living things on an entire continent in little more than a minute. The weapon works on an atomic level but produces a type of radiation wave that is instantly lethal.

The movie starts with a breath taking action scene which has never before been seen on the screen. Christian Slade, in an amazing feat, after days of interrogation and torture, escapes from the bad guys. Out of necessity, Christian becomes a Watchman and proceeds to solve the clues that lead to the location of the weapon. He is involved in another never before seen action stunt (which could realistically happen) along with other hairy action scenes.

Christian is at times the pawn of the bad guys and occasionally one step ahead of them. Sometimes he doesn't know who to trust and is running from everyone. There is a double-agent and he suspects the Director, his uncle.

One of Christian's flaws is that he is a sucker when it comes to women.

There are a few coined words and phrases that help this movie out. As well, flashbacks with bits of wisdom, from Christian's training as a youth, help make this action script unique to others.

In the end, the reluctant Watchman saves the day.

Copyright by Jerrol LeBaron, President of The Writers Script Network, 2002

http://www.WritersScriptNetwork.com ... Getting The Right Script Into The Right Hands.