How to Write a Synopsis for a Short Film

Written By:

How to Write a Synopsis for a Short Film

You’re probably thinking, why do I need to learn how to write a synopsis for a short film? Isn’t it just a quick summary? Can’t I just use my logline and call it a day? The answer is – NO! Your synopsis is not just your logline, although some screenwriters do choose to use the logline in the synopsis and some believe it’s sufficient, it may be in some cases, but not generally. Your synopsis is a key marketing tool that you’re going to use to drive interest in your film. 

If you don’t do a great job, you risk delivering your synopsis to readers who don’t find your film at all interesting. In fact, a poorly constructed synopsis can lead to very little interest at all in purchasing your film. If you can’t get your screenplay purchased, you’ve likely done a lot of work for nothing. So you absolutely should not rush writing your synopsis, nor should you treat it like it’s not incredibly important – because at the end of the day, your synopsis is the difference in whether you sell your screenplay, or not!


The synopsis is a detailed version of your screenplay story. Unlike the logline which is going to deliver key details in a single sentence, the synopsis is going to deliver the beginning, middle, and end of your story, complete with climax points and key variables in a single paragraph to a full-page workup. 

For a short film, most of the time you can complete your synopsis in a paragraph, but don’t get too excited thinking that fewer words means less work! Sometimes, when you have fewer words to work with choosing them accurately so that you can make the most out of every word you include, can be a lot more challenging and takes a lot more expertise and hard work.


If you’re wondering what you should include in your synopsis, you’re certainly not alone. When you merely have a single paragraph or just 300-500 words to achieve an entire story summary, it can be tough to decide what’s most important to include. First, you’re going to need to include details about your key characters and what their primary purpose is in the story. You’re also going to want to include the inciting incident, as this is what draws the audience in and it’s why the character is in the position they are in. 

Additionally, you’re going to include very brief, but focused summaries of your three acts structure. A sentence or two about each is sufficient. This should efficiently deliver the following key details of your short film to the audience:

  • Key character details.
  • Key details on the conflict.
  • Plot twists and storyline turns.
  • How the story ends.

As you can see, the synopsis is like a short, 3 paragraph skeleton of your actual story. While many screenwriters choose to write the synopsis after the screenplay itself is complete, it’s equally possible to write the synopsis before writing the treatment as it could then be used as a means of keeping your focus and maintaining your writing on the correct path.

In addition to crafting a detailed synopsis, selecting the right production team is crucial for bringing your story to life. Whether you’re working with an Indianapolis camera crew or one from another city, their expertise ensures your film captures the essence of your synopsis visually.


Now that you know what the synopsis is and what’s going to be included, let’s take a look at the steps to writing your synopsis from start to finish. The idea is to give your reader a visualization of your short film, and it should be equally short. You don’t have much blank space to work with, as a synopsis for a short film is just a couple of very short paragraphs, so you must be very selective with your word choices.

If you’re writing a 1-page synopsis, you’re going to have the following:

  • Logline
  • Act 1 summary
  • Act 2 summary
  • Act 3 summary
  • Epilogue 

Keep in mind that each of these represents a very short paragraph of 1-3 sentences which summarizes the elements of the story. If you’re trying to write your short film synopsis into a single paragraph, you might start with this 1-page format first, and then you can work it down into a single paragraph with some revising. A lot of times this is easier than trying to write one paragraph from the start.

Another option, in writing your synopsis, is to write Act 1 and Act 2 summaries into a single paragraph and then carefully construct your Act 3 ending into the second paragraph. This format keeps your synopsis short, to the point, and specific, which is exactly what you need to create a powerful synopsis that is going to attract the interest of your reader.

Knowing how to write a synopsis for a short film is all about carefully planning your paragraphs and thinking about what’s most important, and exciting, to share about your short film. You want to hook your readers and keep them engaged so that they feel compelled to watch your short film.