The Synopsis Skirmish

Thanks for your interest in the Synopsis Skirmish.

But... gasp... it's sad but true: we're taking a hiatus from the Skirmish.

Why? Well, read on...

The Synopsis Skirmish—a writing contest for querying authors

2023 Contest Results

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our second run of the Synopsis Skirmish! We had 147 entries this year.

Michelle Barker, our judge, has made her decision. Here are the finalists as well as Michelle's comments:

I love having the opportunity to judge Darling Axe contests. When I receive the shortlist, I print out every entry and settle in with a cup of tea to read through them. This year's synopsis contest didn't disappoint.

Three entries rose to the top.

First Place

The synopsis for The Gatekeepers hooked me immediately, not only with the excellent voice but also with the unusual premise of the novel. The story feels cohesive, the plot points are causal, there are some important reversals, and the ending makes sense. In other words, the author shows us they have control over their story and they understand structure. That's what you want from a synopsis.


Second Place

The Prana Project synopsis provided a clear trajectory from start to finish, with a protagonist who has a strong goal and who fights against a ticking clock. The plot is full of adventure, but the story also explores bigger themes and asks important ethical questions. This was another synopsis in which I felt the author had a strong handle on their story.

THE PRANA PROJECT by Stephanie Hyland

Third Place

The voice in the Desolation Seer synopsis was delightful from the first sentence. Again, the novel feels structurally sound, and I liked how the author forces characters who don't like or trust each other to work together. I could sense the potential for sparks to fly, which made me want to read the novel.

DESOLATION SEER by Kevin Kennedy

Congratulations to the winners!

—Michelle Barker, Darling Axe senior editor and award-winning author

A Writing Contest for Querying Authors

The Synopsis Skirmish—a writing contest for querying authors

According to literary agent Sarah Davies, a good query submission can be described in terms of concept and craft. In other words, you want to convey an original idea or fresh take and demonstrate a mastery of narrative structure. These elements are both important in your pitch, but even more so in your synopsis. So lay out your story's chain of consequence, and demonstrate character, context, and conflict—with style but without gimmick. And may the best plot summary win!

Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question:
does this synopsis convince me that I'm in the hands of an
adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?

First place: $700 CAD
Second place: $200 CAD
Third place: $100 CAD

All three finalists will be published on the Chopping Blog and receive

complimentary access to a Darling Axe self-paced course.

The Finer Points

• Entry is $5 CAD
• Optional feedback for $30 CAD
• One page: maximum 500 words
• Multiple submissions accepted
• Original, unpublished, unrepresented work only
• Once you've paid, send your docx/pdf to
• Submission deadline: May 31 

Our contests are recommended by Reedsy!  Reedsy Best Writing Contests 2022

New: Optional Feedback

Would you like to know how your synopsis lands with our contest screeners? For an additional $30 CAD, we will send you brief feedback about your entry's strengths and snags. This will come in the form of an email with a few notes about what our screeners thought, a score out of five, and any relevant resources. Please note: this feedback will not be sent until after the contest closes and winners are announced—sometime in June.


The Synopsis Skirmish—a writing contest for querying authors by Darling Axe Editing