1-Page Synopsis Feedback

The Writers Lounge has been Hosting a Short Story Workshop since January 2017!

Entering Round Four of the Workshop we are working on writing a Synopsis. Specifically a 1-page synopsis. This is the step a writer, who wants to be published or acquire an agent someday, must follow and be able to write to showcase their work. Alongside your Query Letter, the Synopsis (1-page or 2-page) is vital. Submit it in the wrong format or fill it with back-copy words instead of making every word count could cost you in the end.

Are you working on a 1-page Synopsis right now? Or are you looking for the quickest way to write one you can use right away? See two How-To Examples below:

Writing a Synopsis

From now till Thursday, February 28th this post will be open for you to share your 1-page Synopsis and I’ll give you my feedback/suggestions! Just copy/paste your synopsis in the comments section below! And please do feel free to offer your own thoughts on others submissions below as well! The only way we can all get better is to help each other and be willing to accept feedback from others in return.

About E.L. Drayton

Writer of novels, short stories, scripts, and reviews.
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  • Nacho

    At the peak of the Roaring Twenties in New York City, wealth and salacious behaviour were the words of the day, sometimes with fatal consequences.

    Private Eye John Ackroyd, a disgraced former detective, is going over the details of a missing persons case, a husband who likely ran off with his mistress, when there is a knock at the door. A beauty with an accent enters and introduces herself as Simone Moreau. She wants Ackroyd to investigate the suicide of William Stone, an investing tycoon. After some back and forth he agrees to take what he views as an open and shut case, especially once he sees her monetary offer. Moreau leaves him with a tidbit of information, that her and Stone were going to run off together.

    His first visit is to Stone’s widow. She brings up Moreau and mocks her for having dreams of stealing her husband; it wasn’t his first infidelity and wouldn’t be his last. The widow doesn’t provide much valuable information but insinuates that his business partner made out well with the death.

    Ackroyd then visits the business partner. They have a lengthy discussion about Stone and their relationship but he doesn’t manage to get anything useful. On his way out he discovers that the man of the other case he is working is also employed by the firm and hasn’t been in. He then looks at a picture to confirm and notices that Stone gained a lot of weight recently.

    Several weeks pass and Ackroyd hasn’t made any progress but Moreau wants to meet for a drink to discuss the case. They end up getting drunk and having sex at her apartment. While intoxicated she rambles on about her time in Marsaille during World War I and her desire to return. After she passes out he goes to clean up in the washroom and notices all the hair in the sink. Wanting water he knocks on her roommates’ door but nobody answers.

    The next day he receives a call from the widow, begging him to come over immediately. Several of their bank accounts had been cleared out the day before Stone’s death. He urges her to check their safe and find it emptied. In a rage she knocks several things over, one of which is a travel guide on southern France, in particular Marsaille.

    He rushes over to Moreau’s apartment to find it empty, with most of her possessions gone. The roommates door is still locked so he kicks it down to find a bald Stone dead with his throat slit.

    Several months later Ackroyd ambushes a disguised Moreau at a café in Marsaille and is able to coerce a confession and explanation out of her. She then laughs at him, explaining how American police can’t touch her here. He agrees before pointing out the several tough looking men sitting around them. The widow and business partner didn’t look to kindly to the murder and sent people to retrieve her. He smiles as she flees, the men in immediate pursuit.

    • Arthur Cole

      That was really good! There was tension and intrigue even in this short synopsis. I have a question, though. In paragraph two you say that Moreau comes to Ackroyd for a suicide case, but there is no body until the end when he signs the roommate’s room. Wouldn’t it be a missing person’s case? or else Ackroyd would know that Moreau was involved because she knows what happened to him.

      Edits:
      in paragraph two, at the end, there is an awkwardly placed come that should be removed “Moreau leaves him with a tidbit of information, that her and…”

      In paragraph three you say “it wasn’t his first infidelity and wouldn’t be his last.” Since he is dead I suggest saying “wouldn’t HAVE BEEN his last.”

      In paragraph four, does the fact that Stone gained weight have any significance?

      In paragraph five, you have “roommates’…” If there is only one roommate, then it should be “roomate’s.” If intentionally plural… Carry on.

      In paragraph six you say “he receives a call from the widow, begging him to…” There is another comma that is not necessary there, and a comma that should be placed after “In a rage”

      In paragraph eight, in one instance, you use “to” when you should have used “too.”

      Great ending, too! I like that you neglect to say what happens when they catch her, and leave it to the imagination of the reader. Very interesting! I look forward to reading further!

      • Nacho

        Thanks for all the help, I’m not the best at grammar and will definitely make all the changes you recommend.

        In terms of the plot I did a poor job explaining in the synopsis, but there was a body in the room, but the face was messed up enough that the police didn’t look into it.

  • SplinterFM

    The Integris, a commercial starship, is traveling near a remote planet full of stories of monsters and ghosts when it detects a distress signal from another ship. Ben, the captain’s young and witty assistant, warns the captain, Edward Dawson, while everyone else is asleep. The Interstellar Safety Protocol mandates that they check the ship and turn the signal off, so Dawson decides to enter the ship while Ben drives the Integris. The captain finds the crew of the other ship murdered so he quickly disables the signal and rushes back to the Integris, making a cut in his leg while exiting. When Dawson is back, scared and tired, he goes to bed while Ben and Diego — a storage level worker who woke up — finish the safety procedures and put the Integris back on its track.

    In the morning the crew finds Diego dead. Dawson interrogates Ben but the boy doesn’t know a thing. He asks the computer to show the footage from the security cameras but the artificial intelligence refuses, so he decides to enter the computer room. Dawson finds the ship’s AI programmer dead and the room locked — it won’t open even for the captain. The four remaining crew members start discussing who is the possible murderer and Ben suggests that the captain could have been infected the other ship with a known virus and is killing everyone without knowing because he is having hallucinations. Dawson decides Ben is the main suspect for being the last person seen with Diego and for turning against the captain so he locks him in one of the storage rooms.

    The captain goes talk to Red — the ship’s doctor and his best friend — about what to do with Ben but finds the doctor dead. Dawson goes back to check on Ben, who is still locked and starts believing he is having hallucinations. He walks the corridors of the ship with a knife in his hand, interrogating his own mind. At one point he sees Diego, who starts blaming him for the deaths. In the next second, Diego changes and Red is the one blaming him. In an explosion of anger, he attacks the hallucination with the knife.

    He can feel the knife entering the guts of the hallucination and it wriggles and shifts from one victim to the next. Dawson realizes this can’t be a hallucination and stabs the creature furiously. The creature finally dies in his arms, taking the form of a gray scaled alien with green blood dripping on the floor. The captain connects the points and realizes this must be a shape-shifting alien from the haunted planet.

    Dawson lets Ben out and explains everything. They apologize to one another and decide to finish the trip as quickly as possible. For the captain, this trip was the last one.

    • Arthur Cole

      I like this! Totally feels like a Star Trek episode! I think the wording of the synopsis needs a little work, but you’ve got a good, clear story and I know I will enjoy reading it!

  • Arthur Cole

    “Revolver & Quill”
    (Western)

    Mark Jameson, Sheriff of Golden Spurs, Nevada, greets his brother who just rode in from being gone for four years away at university. He hopes that Chandler will decide to stay permanently, but Chandler has different plans. He means to stay in the town for only four or five days before leaving for Boston where he aspires to start his career.

    The Jameson brothers go to the saloon to catch up, but they find the people in a frenzy. Mark asks his acting Deputy, Gus Haddenport what is going on. He is told that a strange man entered town asking where he may trade a significant amount of water for supplies. Being as valuable as it was in such a drought, everyone jumped to the stranger’s aid hoping that they may acquire some of his water for themselves. Just as they are talking, two gunshots ring out.

    Mark and Chandler race in the direction of the shots. They find an unknown man over a dead man and Will Stacker wounded. He arrests the stranger.

    Mark attempts to gather information from the stranger, be claims that he merely acted in self defense. Frustrated by being unable to make any further progress, however, Mark gives up on the stranger and is forced to wait until Will Stacker is conscious and well enough to speak on the matter. Meanwhile, the Jameson’s continue their discussion of their future. Chandler pleads for Mark to leave this God-forsaken dust-bucket, but Mark is unwilling to give up on the people to whom his father left him in charge of as Sheriff.

    Shouts cause Mark to step outside only to be greeted by an angry mob looking to kill the alleged murderer. Intending to keep to state law, Mark defends the stranger claiming that he has the right to a fair trial. This upsets the people of Golden Spurs to the point of inciting violence.

    Mark seeks refuge back inside the jail where Chandler tells him that this man had an item of their father’s on his person. They attempt to find where he got the item from, but more shouts outside demand that they release the prisoner or else they will burn the jailhouse down.

    Through cryptic answers, they discover that this stranger killed their father. Mark draws his revolver when the jailhouse bursts into flames. Amidst the bedlam, the stranger escapes. They follow his trail to the outskirts of town where he is found with a fuse in his hand. He tells them that the fuse leads to a stack of dynamite in the nearby mountain trails and lights it, sending Mark and Chandler into a race to extinguish the fuse before it blows.

    They take a shortcut and catch the fuse in time to cut it. Moments later, they discover a second fuse, hidden in the sand. Sparks fly by and they dive for cover.

    Meanwhile in Golden Spurs, the people are preparing to lynch the stranger when they hear the boom. Gus races to the Jameson’s aid, but stops at Chestnut Creek where water began flowing again for the first time in nearly four years. He buries his face in the water when Mark and Chandler come floating down the river. They return to Golden Spurs to find the stranger hanging.

    Days later, Chandler is preparing to leave, against Mark’s pleas, when Gus storms in and announces that nearly a dozen covered wagons are approaching. Realizing that with water available again, people will begin flocking to town once more. Mark tells Chandler that he will need him now more than ever, and Chandler hesitantly agrees… at least for the time being.

  • Twin Crossing | The Line Between Reality & Insanity (An Illustrated Novel Series)

    In the small town of Twin Crossing stands a House on a line between reality and insanity. It’s sustained by the souls it spent centuries Splitting. Otto von Kraus, in the middle of World War II hid inside the House, not realizing his decision would change his life forever. He became the Gatekeeper, forced to live as both child and man, occupying the same body and space, but not at the same time, effectively losing his sense of freedom. Elder and Younger Otto live within its walls, charged with protecting a Cane; their life source, and preventing anyone from passing through the House, into the Parallel, the place where the other half of the Split souls live.

    Both Otto’s and the House rely on each other for survival, until one day Elder Otto witnesses what a Splitting looks like for the first time. Disturbed by the painful event, he decides to make amends by reuniting the separated souls, even if it means killing himself in the process.

    With the help of Olive, a precocious child, and Archibald, his long-time friend from the Parallel, they take on the dangerous task of uniting souls the House spent centuries Splitting. When not every union turns out the way they expect, they are left to question if what they’re doing is causing more harm than good.

    Who will win the war between good and evil and how many innocent souls will be lost in the process?

    • Arthur Cole

      This is really intriguing! I am like forced to read the final short story because I have to know what happens, how it happens, if Otto makes it out alive, if so, is he united with himself. Then there’s Olive and Archibald! Are they on opposite sides of the parallel? That’s super awesome! I can’t wait to see how they communicate! There is a lot of stuff and, to me, this would be hard to fit in a short story, but I look forward to it! I don’t even have any critiques. Just good luck!

  • SplinterFM

    Guys, I wanted to tell you this and I think this place is as good as any. I’m gonna have to drop from the workshop. I feel I haven’t put 100% into the submissions and I’m really not happy with what I have for the synopsis. I was thinking about the next stages and I realized next week I’m starting something that’s gonna take a lot of my time, if I’m not doing this the way I wanted right now, starting next week it’s gonna be even worse. Also, English is my second language and I feel I need to improve a lot (basically by reading). My wording is still very weak.

    For those reasons (not so much the last one), I decided to quit. I mean, I’m gonna keep pursuing the art of writing (maybe I even write a book from the idea I had for this short story, even if it’s just to practice, even if it sucks, just to make sure I can) but I’m out of the workshop.

    I want to thank everyone who spent their time to provide thoughtful comments to my pieces and the professor for hosting this workshop. I’ve learned a lot and I appreciate it very much.
    Bye for now.

    • Arthur Cole

      Too bad! I was looking forward to reading about the crew of the Starship Integris! I hope you’ve thought this through thoroughly.