In the early stages of our awards our readers are invited to cast a vote for every submission 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 introducing your main character, setting, main conflict and what’s at stake will get you off to a flying start. Your aim here is to hook and ground the reader 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, we look for what happens in your plot. Writing in the third person, present tense, we recommend breaking your plot summary into three parts:
How your novel opens
Using simple, declarative sentences, say how your story starts and what happens including the inciting incident.
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?
How your novel ends
How does your character try to solve the conflict? Say what happens in the climax of the book and how the story ends.
It’s not essential to submit your synopsis in this exact format but 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).