The Essential One Page Synopsis

For the first stage of both our novel competitions, we ask for a one-page synopsis along with your opening extract. While extracts are by far the most important entry element, the synopsis plays an important supporting role. A strong and simple one page novel synopsis helps readers understand how the plot unfolds and progresses beyond your opening chapters.

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.


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The international BATH NOVEL AWARDS were founded in 2013 to spotlight and support emerging writers. £5,000 is awarded across two annual novel competitions open worldwide to unpublished, self-published and independently published novelists. The Bath Novel Award invites submissions from December to June. The Bath Children’s Novel Award is open from June until December.