Writing a good synopsis is hard. You can make it easier on yourself by getting other people to read it and comment on it.
There was a special Dramatists Guild meeting here in Seattle on November 6. Our rep, Duane Kelly, got some people from the New York office to come here and give some talks and presentations. One was a synopsis clinic, led by Roland Tec.
Everyone submitted a synopsis before the clinic, and we went through each of them and critiqued them and gave suggestions.
Here are some things we talked about, which I’m passing on to you.
Purposes of Synopses
You use synopses for many different reasons:
- grant applications
- selling tickets
- getting literary managers to request the full script
- on the backs of script books
- on Doollee.com
What Should Go in a Synopsis
- who the main character is
- what the main character wants
- the name of the main character
- the name of the second most important character
- what the conflict is
- what is the story
What Doesn’t Go in a Synopsis
- all of the plot points
- the theme
- the architecture of the play (“three act,” “chamber music,” etc.)
Err on the side of brevity.
A technique to reflect the play better: circle the verbs. Do the verbs belong to the character, or to the playwright? Verbs belonging to the character are better at selling the play.
Get by with a Little Help from Your Friends
Show your synopsis to your playwright friends. Ask them about everything in “What Should Go in a Synopsis” above.
- who is the main character?
- what does the main character want?
- what is the main character’s name?
- who’s the second most important character?
- what is the conflict?
- what’s the story (basically)?
Reread your synopsis, and figure out what parts of it don’t communicate the play. Then change those.
Then show to your friends again.
Easy, right? 🙂