“The Rock” Synopsis

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 Rock, my second attempt at a thriller. The story is high-concept, but I didn’t want to glance over the three lead characters, as they are all pretty cool. A lot of the story takes place on the island, so I had to do plenty of summarizing there.

 



STANLEY GOODSPEED is an FBI biological weapons expert and self-declared “chemical super-nerd.” After diffusing a chemical bomb at an FBI office and nearly dying as a result, he returns home only to learn that his long-time girlfriend is pregnant. She asks him to get married; frazzled, he hesitates, but soon says yes.

Meanwhile, a group of rogue Marines led by disenchanted Brigadier General HUMMEL capture a stockpile of rockets armed with a VX nerve agent. The Marines seize Alcatraz Island during a guided tour and take 81 tourists hostage. Hummel threatens the Pentagon with launching VX rockets against the population of the Bay Area unless the government pays reparations to fallen soldiers, including compensation to the families of Marines who died on illegal missions.

The Pentagon decides to deploys a Navy SEALS team to retake the island and free Hummel’s hostages by stealth. Goodspeed is (unwillingly) brought along to neutralize the chemical threat. The team still lacks first-hand knowledge of Alcatraz, though, and turns to 60-year-old convict JOHN MASON, the only inmate who ever escaped. The SEAL team is deployed at night, via helicopter, and successfully infiltrates Alcatraz by following Mason’s instructions through a maze of tunnels. However, the SEAL team is soon ambushed by the Marines and all SEALs are killed, though Mason and Goodspeed survive. Mason wants to leave, but realizes his daughter could be killed if Hummel launches the gas. Mason also explains why he has been in jail for decades: He stole American intelligence microfilm and hid it, and has been held without trial since.

Mason and Goodspeed move through Alcatraz looking for VX weapons. Mason’s past as a British operative comes in handy when he dispatches of some Marines. Goodspeed, meanwhile, renders rockets useless. A frustrated General Hummel threatens hostages, forcing Mason and Goodspeed into revealing their position and being taken captive. As dawn breaks, they escape their captors and continue disarming rockets.

Hummel’s ransom deadline passes, and the general reveals he was never prepared to launch gas and kill innocent people. The whole thing was a bluff. A firefight ensues between soldiers loyal to Hummel and not. An injured Hummel is rescued by Goodspeed and reveals the location of the final rocket before dying. Goodspeed disarms the final rocket. Fearing an imminent attack, the Pentagon decides to blanket Alcatraz with bombs to destroy everything and everyone in order to prevent a larger catastrophe. An exhausted Goodspeed uses flares to signal success, and the bomber planes pull up at the last moment. Mason thanks Goodspeed and leaves to experience the freedom he’s always wanted, enigmatically urging Goodspeed to visit a church in Kansas for his honeymoon. Goodspeed tells the Pentagon that Mason was “vaporized.”

A few months later, Goodspeed and his pregnant bride run out of a Kansas church with the microfilm Mason stole, and Goodspeed asks his new wife if she wants to know who really killed JFK.


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