The Essential One Page Synopsis

In the first stages of both our novel competitions readers vote yes or no in answer to one question: do this extract and synopsis make you excited to read the full? While your novel extract is by far the most important part of your entry, a strong one page synopsis can play a key supporting role in securing votes. If a particular reader is undecided after considering your extract, a synopsis which clearly shows how your plot unfolds can nudge them into voting yes.

The most helpful elements to include in your one page synopsis are:

Your novel in one line

Starting with a single line summary of your main character, setting and central conflict gets you off to a flying start by giving the judges an immediate sense of what your book is about.

Next, say as simply as possible what happens in the rest of your plot in third person, present tense. A straightforward, tried and tested format is to shape your synopsis into three parts:

How your novel opens

What’s the set-up of your novel? Describe how your story starts including the inciting incident.

What happens in the middle

What’s your character trying to achieve and who or what is stopping them? What happens to raise the stakes? How does this affect your characters?

How your novel ends

How does the character try to solve the conflict? Describe what happens in the climax of the book and how the story ends.

Nail these four elements and you’ll have a strong and simple synopsis which showcases your storytelling skills and perfectly supports your novel extract.


The BATH NOVEL AWARDS spotlight and support emerging writers worldwide. We award £5,000 annually across two prizes: The Bath Novel Award (submissions from December to June) and The Bath Children’s Novel Award (open from June until November).