The Synopsis Skirmish

The Synopsis Skirmish—a writing contest for querying novelists

2022 Contest Results

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted. It was an honor to read about all of your wide-ranging stories.

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

1st place—So, A psychopath walked into a bar: A Riel Brava Mystery by donalee Moulton

The author’s handling of voice in this synopsis is so powerful, it made me want to read the novel right away. The synopsis is unusual and intriguing—a winning combination.

2nd place—The Left Hand of the Dragon by Ng Ken Kern

I enjoyed the twist in this synopsis. The author doesn’t waste time with unnecessary details but instead gives a good indication of the action as well as a flavor of the genre.

3rd place—Unstoppable by Julie Tannenbaum

The premise of this novel has great potential in today’s market. The story feels solid and fully realized, with a convincing arc.

PS. The First Page Challenge is now live.

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 $20 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• Original, unpublished, unrepresented work only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!

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 2022.


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