A synopsis for a project, regardless of genre or length can be one line, a paragraph, or up to a page in length. The purpose of a synopsis is to detail the basic plot and motivations of the character[s] and the situations in an accurate and succinct manner to engage the reader.
It could incorporate the following:
A sense of whose story it is – the major character/s and how they interact. The setting and era of the story. The inciting incident that initiates the story. A sense of the story unfolding and its major developments. A sense of escalating tension or conflict. The climax and resolution.
As a synopsis is sometimes the first material read by a reader, assessor, producer, distributor or agent, it should be written in a way which is dynamic and enticing as possible.
An outline can be three to ten pages in length. It is primarily written like a short story and is an extension of the synopsis and should include all the same elements. It includes all the action in the story without dialogue. It can sometimes include other elements that give the reader a better understanding of the dynamic elements of the story, subject, characters or style intended.
A treatment for a project, regardless of genre or length or film, plots the narrative as it will appear on the screen. It is written in a straightforward prose style, usually in the present tense, and with little or no dialogue. Treatments usually concentrate on the plot but they can also incorporate ideas or feelings which inform the situations or characters.
The layout of a treatment should be written in short paragraphs. Each paragraph is a separate scene or sequence of events which advances the action of the story and characters. Following is a basic example of two paragraphs of a treatment:
TOMMY DYSON (25), rough though handsome, drives his truck along the highway listening to country and western music. He looks down at his pretty girlfriend SUE (22) who is asleep next to him. Up ahead a roadblock comes into view with police cars and an ambulance. TOMMY slows the truck. The brakes skid. SUE wakes up. As they wait for the road to clear TOMMY uses the opportunity to ask SUE to move in with him.
It is six moths later. TOMMY and SUE chat about SUE’S new job at the newspaper office as they eat dinner in their kitchen. TOMMY tells SUE he thinks it is great that she has found something she loves doing. SUE watches him in admiration as he speaks. She wishes that he had a job he was happy with as well. She realises her love for him is growing stronger.