1. a brief or condensed statement giving a general view of some subject.
2. a compendium of heads or short paragraphs giving a view of the whole.
3. a brief summary of the plot of a novel, motion picture, play, etc.
When someone asks for a synopsis of a play I’m submitting, I wonder exactly what they want. Some folks want to read the entire play start to finish in six or so sentences (as in #3 above). Others want a short one-line idea of what the work is about (#1 above). Most places do not specify which one they ask for.
My dilemma when submitting and see the dreaded words “include a synopsis” is which of these to supply. Should they want the whole shebang condensed, I’ll probably nullify my submission by sending a teaser (#1 above). Who’s going to bother getting back to ask me for the full synopsis? No one. Whoops. Sorry.
In reverse, should they need just a teaser and I send the condensed entirety, that also will probably cause too much effort on their part to rectify the error.
Places that invite submissions are usually understaffed and have no time to bother with trifling mistakes.
Let’s look at the various possibilities.
Teaser: Hamlet cannot decide how to avenge his father’s death and deal with his mother’s incestuous relationship with his uncle, who usurped Hamlet’s lineal claim to the throne of Denmark.
Full synopsis: Hamlet, called back from Wittenberg because of his father’s untimely death, finds out that…
***INSERT 32 PAGES OF DETAILED PLOT REVEAL***
…leading to the entire royal family being murdered during a fencing match, leaving Denmark without a government and now under the occupation of Norway.
Clearly, one must be specific as to which of these they want us poor submitters to supply. Especially when they plan to publish the “synopsis” (really “teaser”) on their web page or in their program. Maybe a middle ground?
Condensed full synopsis: Hamlet’s youth and inexperience in dealing with his father’s murder and mother’s incest causes mayhem in the Denmarkian royal household leading to nearly every character with a speaking part being killed off for no good reason and the whole country taken over by the Oh-hi-just-passing-through Norwegian army.
Hey, honey, wanna see this?
Naaah. I know what happens. Is Walking Dead on?
Synopsis or teaser? It matters. I’ve decided to send both from now on.