Q. I've received a positive response from a film company regarding a query for my new script. They want to see a one-page outline before receiving the script. Not wanting to put a foot wrong, I was wondering if you could define the outline vs. synopsis.
An outline usually implies something you're planning to write.
A synopsis is usually a summary of what you've written. In practice the terms are used both ways, along with "pitch" and "treatment."
A pitch is an outline written as a sales document. Typically it's heavier on the setup, and may entirely gloss over the finale. You write a pitch to get people to read your script -- if they insist on one. If producers ask for a synopsis, always send a pitch.
A treatment is an outline written as the first stage of a commissioned script. There is no functional difference between an outline and a treatment. Often you have to write a pitch to get a producer interested, or to get a funding agency to cough up the dough. You are not allowed to write a treatment without getting paid. There's a bit of contradiction there, but what can you do.
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