Synopsis Example (Crime/Noir): "The Big Easy" - Writer's Digest

Synopsis Example (Crime/Noir): "The Big Easy"

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.
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 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.

Image placeholder title

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.

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:


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

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 cleaning poem.