In the first stage of our competition readers cast a vote for any extract and synopsis which makes them want to read the full. While your extract plays by far the most important part, a strong synopsis can perform a key supporting role. Here are the four main elements we hope to find in a one page synopsis:
Your novel in one line
Starting with a single line which introduces your main character, setting, main conflict plus what’s at stake gets a synopsis off to a flying start. Your aim here is to orientate and hook by clearly signalling what your book is about.
For example: 14-year-old Lagos housemaid refuses to accept her fate – she wants an education and to get a “louding voice”. (The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, 2018’s winning novel published in 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton.)
Next, set out what happens in your plot, writing in the third person, present tense. We recommend breaking your plot summary into three parts:
1. How your novel opens
Using simple, declarative sentences, say how your story starts and what happens as a result including the inciting incident.
2. What happens in the middle
What gets in the way of what your main character is trying to achieve? How does this affect your characters?
3. How your novel ends
How does your character try to solve the conflict? Set out what happens in the climax of your book and how your story ends.
While it’s not essential to submit your synopsis in this exact format we hope it’s helpful to know the key elements we hope to find.
The BATH NOVEL AWARDS spotlight and support emerging writers worldwide. We award £6,000 annually across two prizes: The Bath Novel Award (submissions from December to May) and The Bath Children’s Novel Award (open from June until November).