Synopsis Example: ''A History of Violence'' (Thriller)

This time it's A History of Violence (2005). This story is most likely a thriller. The synopsis below is short because the main hook of this story is easy to convey. Nothing needs to be over-explained. Get in, get out, move on.
Author:
Publish date:

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 A History of Violence (2005).

This story is most likely a thriller. The synopsis below is short because the main hook of this story is easy to convey. Nothing needs to be over-explained. Get in, get out, move on.

Image placeholder title

TOM STALL owns a diner in the small town of Millbrook, IN. He lives a simple life with a lovely wife, EDIE, and two children. His idyllic life is shattered one evening when two killers pass through Millbrook and decide to rob Tom's restaurant and rape one of the customers. During the robbery, Tom deftly kills both robbers, and his brave actions make him an overnight celebrity and local hero.

Tom is soon visited by a physically-scarred gangster named FOGATY, who alleges that Tom is actually a killer named Joey Cusack, who used to run with him in the Irish Mob 20 years ago in Philadelphia. Tom denies these accusations and claims he has never been to Philadelphia, but Fogaty continues to stalk and threaten the Stall family. Under pressure from Fogaty's harassment as well as his newfound fame, Tom's relationships with Edie and his teenage son JACK become strained. Edie is unsure of what to think of Fogaty's (somewhat convincing) claims, and Jack, who has been bullied in high school, now decides to use violence against his student tormentors. Tom chastises his son for said violence, but Jack claims hypocrisy and runs out of the house.

Fogaty arrives at Tom's house with Jack as a hostage, demanding that "Joey" return with he and his men to Philadelphia. Tom kills Fogaty's men with the same precision he used against the robbers, while his son Jack kills Fogaty with a shotgun in defense of his father. At the hospital, Tom shocks Edie by admitting that he is actually Joey Cusack, and that he ran away from Philadelphia around the age of 21 to escape his criminal past and start a new violence-free life. This furthers the tensions in their marriage and Tom starts sleeping on the couch.

Not long after Fogaty's death, Tom receives a call from his older brother, RICHIE CUSACK, the head of the Philly Irish Mob, who demands that "Joey" return to Philadelphia or violence will befall his family. Tom drives to Philadelphia, meets Richie at his mansion, and offers to make peace. Richie seems happy to see his long-lost little brother again, but claims he has no choice in what comes next. He orders his men to kill Tom. Tom defends himself and kills Richie and all the guards.

Tom returns home to Indiana, but the atmosphere is tense and silent as the family sits around the dinner table. The future is uncertain, but the family indicates their acceptance of their father by setting a plate for him and passing him some food.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Image placeholder title

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,
synopses, proposals, book text, and more.
Buy it online here at a discount.

Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:


Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 authors share tips on writing mystery and thriller novels that readers love, covering topics related to building suspense, inserting humor, crafting incredible villains, and figuring out the time of death.

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Debut author Jaclyn Goldis explains how her novel When We Were Young was inspired by her real-life grandmothers and how many times she rewrote her first chapter.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, force a character to make a decision.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 25

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about a cryptid.

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Bestselling author Erika Robuck provides her top 7 tips for creating an engaging historical fiction novel.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 559

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a short poem.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 24

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to create a new myth.

Richard_2:23

Crafting Animal Characters like an Expert

Whether your work-in-progress features a witch's familiar, a talking animal sidekick, or a companion pet, WD editor Moriah Richard gives you the basics on how to create an animal character.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti quotes | Time wears down the pencil

8 Lawrence Ferlinghetti Quotes for Writers and About Writing

Here are 8 Lawrence Ferlinghetti quotes for writers and about writing from the author of A Coney Island of the Mind, Poetry as Insurgent Art, and Pictures of the Gone World. In these quotes, Ferlinghetti covers time, craft, passion, and more.