- Cover all the major plot points.
- Reveal the climax and resolution.
- Keep the synopsis to a single page.
As an example, here is the one-page synopsis for my novel, RENO NEVADA RIDES TO HELL.
RENO NEVADA RIDES TO HELL
RENO NEVADA, a disillusioned gunman with a clever knack for inventing things, wanders the desolate landscape atop his towering, black stallion, SAMSON. He is snatched up by an old partner of his, a miscreant named HARLAN, who lives for one single purpose: to locate the map to the hidden treasure of La Puerta Del Inferno (Hell’s Gate). Reno, who blames himself for his wife’s untimely death, prefers torture over divulging the map’s location to Harlan.
Reno is rescued from his captors by a religious man who calls himself THE PREACHER. He wants to enlist Reno’s help on a quest: ride into Hell and close the gates. Although he feels an instant connection to the Preacher’s beautiful daughter, EVE, Reno refuses. It isn’t until he finds himself face-to-face with Hell’s demons that he reconsiders and joins the Preacher and Eve in their quest.
To achieve their objective, the Preacher and Reno must accomplishment two goals: The Preacher must find and retrieve the Key to Hell while Reno must return to his forsaken ranch with Eve and recover the map from its hiding place. To secure the Key, the Preacher must face an archangel of Hell known as the Gatekeeper. Reno and Eve are forced to tangle with Harlan and his gang of cutthroats. After a night of harrowing ordeals, both the Key and the map are recovered.
As the crusaders pause to rest in the town of Tempest before the final leg of their expedition into Hell, they suffer a devastating blow. The archangel snatches Eve right from Reno’s clutches and an unsuspecting tag-along kills the Preacher’s ally and escapes with the Key. With Eve taken prisoner in the Underworld and the Key lost, all hope is gone. Only the restorative faith of the townsfolk provides Reno and the Preacher the strength they need to carry on with their quest.
The two weary travelers follow Reno’s map straight to the Gates of Hell. Abandoning all hope, they cross the threshold, fearing never to see the light of day again. In a fierce battle that sees the Preacher mortally wounded, Reno manages to kill the last of Harlan’s men. Harlan, however, escapes. Lost in the catacombs of Hell, Reno stumbles upon Eve and frees her from her shackles. In an effort to escape, Reno finds the Key but watches in horror as it is consumed in the fiery abyss when Harlan suddenly appears and confronts him. Reno settles his dispute with Harlan once and for all as he relies on brains over brawn. With Harlan gone, he and Eve race to escape Hell.
With the Key gone and Reno and Eve reunited with the dying Preacher, a revelation occurs. Reno is the true ‘Key’ to closing the Gates of Hell. While the Preacher holds off the archangel, his dying faith enables Reno and Eve to accomplish their quest and escape Hell just as the opening is sealed forever. Eve and Reno reenter the land of the living, where faith and hope are restored.