There are bad lengths for screen stories and good ones. I find I can't get a five page story without first writing a ten page beat sheet and boiling it down. A page and a half is easy. Three pages (750) words is even harder than 5 pages. I have to throw out actual story and replace it with something simpler.
When I write a synopsis, my goal is to tell a story. Not necessarily the same story as in the movie. It's more the story that the movie would be if it were that length of story. I take out stuff that's too complicated for the length. Sometimes I replace it with simpler stuff that's not in the movie
. If they can't be bothered to read the screenplay...
I find the best way to write a synopsis is to reread the screenplay once and then retell the story off the top of my head. I try not to refer to the screenplay unless I'm stuck and can't remember. (That's a warning sign that the story may not be flowing properly, by the way.)
A synopsis that's a precise reconstruction of the screenplay story is almost always dull to read. Don't write a real synopsis. Tell the story.
The synopsis is definitely harder to write than the script, no matter what the length. I think of the synopsis as "the story of the story," which helps me let go of my dependence on the details.
What's really hard to get over to a lot of people, some of whom ought to know better, is just how thoroughly imagined a story has to be before you can synopsise it.
They want the idea in all its essentials in a couple of pages because that's easiest for them to engage with and work from... for me a synopsis or an outline or a treatment is something I arrive at after a helluva lot of trying-out of different ideas. Yet they act as if two pages of story equals two pages of effort, all first-thoughts and no big thing.
Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.