Here’s another example of a fiction summary, which can be used as a guide for writing your novel synopsis. (See all my synopsis examples here.) This time it’s The Big Easy (1987), a crime/noir story. There’s a lot of New Orleans flavor in this story that I had to nix here, as a synopsis is not designed to show the spice, but rather the three acts. It was important to show Remy’s arc, more than explain the small, interesting elements of the story, such as voodoo or zydeco music.
REMY MCSWAIN is a smooth-talking New Orleans police lieutenant with a Cajun-Irish family background who comes from a long line of cops. Remy is called to investigate the murder of a local mobster and meets ANNE OSBORNE, a by-the-book state district attorney sent to investigate alleged police corruption in the city.
Remy takes Anne to dinner at a Cajun restaurant, and she quickly witnesses the corners he cuts on a daily basis—from running red lights to not paying restaurant bills in exchange for extra protection for that establishment. Anne accuses Remy of being on the take, and he accuses her of not having the first clue about how New Orleans “works.” While he alludes to some questionable activity on his own part, he believes his vices permissible because he is, deep down, “one of the good guys.” Remy’s and Anne’s opposites-attract attraction blossoms, and the sexually-shy Anne is fully seduced by Remy’s New Orleans charm—but their newfound physical romance is put on hold after more underworld figures turn up dead in what looks to be an all-out war for control of the heroin trade.
Remy stops by a strip club to pick up a small payoff from the owner, only to be caught in a videotaped Internal Affairs sting. Anne prosecutes him in court, and she quickly moves her duty to the state ahead of her feelings for Remy. With help from his police friends (including several cousins who are cops), the key videotape evidence is lost and Remy beats the rap. He celebrates with a old-school Cajun party, where he happily learns that his longtime mentor, CAPTAIN KELLOM, will marry his single mother. Anne appears and chastises Remy for bending the rules at every turn; she accuses him of no longer being one of the good guys. Remy becomes unsure of his path in life.
More area drug lords die, and Remy finally realizes that corrupt cops are actually behind the deaths. In an effort to reclaim his integrity, Remy assists Anne in investigating his own department—something that alarms his longtime friends/cops. In retaliation, Remy’s younger brother is shot by unseen gunmen. Outside the hospital, a desperate Remy turns to Capt. Kellom for help, only to learn his longtime mentor is himself involved in the heroin corruption. Remy tells Kellom he is no longer welcome in the McSwain family, and their conversation turns violent and almost deadly.
Guilted, Kellom heads to the drydocks at night to put an end to the heroin dealings, but is shot by fellow corrupt cops who don’t want their profitable venture ended. Remy and Anne appear at the pier, and Remy gets into a firefight with Kellom’s two cop conspirators. Remy wins the gun battle and saves Anne from harm. In the final scene, Remy and Anne enter a honeymoon suite as newlyweds.
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Don’t let your synopsis be rejected for
improper formatting. The third edition of
Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript
has more than 100 examples of queries,
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Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:
- How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips.
- Synopsis Example: “A History of Violence” (thriller)
- Synopsis Example: “The Ides of March” (thriller / mainstream)
- Synopsis Example: “Punch Drunk Love” (literary fiction)
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.