Queries, pitches and synopses are different things.
A query is a one-page letter that explains what you’ve written, who you are, and why the agent should represent you or publisher should consider your book. In a query letter will be a pitch, which is an explanation of your story in 3-5 sentences. It’s like the text you see on the back of a DVD box. It’s designed to pique your interest. A pitch, like the back of a book or DVD, will not spill the beans regarding the ending.
A synopsis is a front-to-back telling of what happens in your story. It’s like sitting down with a 12-year-old and explaining your entire story in about five minutes. You explain who the characters are, what the conflict is, the three acts, and finally, what happens at the end (e.g., the villain dies). In a synopsis, you do indeed give away the ending. You would not do so in a pitch, and a pitch is what appears in a query.
I keep hearing this term “denouement” pop up in some of the writing materials I’ve been reading. What exactly is a denouement?
Denouement is a hard word to pronounce (and a harder word to spell for some of us, especially me—it’s one of my Achilles’ heels for some reason). But the role of the denouement in literature is not hard to comprehend and, once you understand it’s definition, you’ll be to spot it quite easily in most novels.
The denouement is the final outcome of the story, generally occurring after the climax of the plot. Often it’s where all the secrets (if there are any) are revealed and loose ends are tied up. For example, the denouement of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet comes just after the Romeo and Juliet take their own lives. When the families find their dead bodies, Escalus explains that their deaths are a result of the family feud, leaving members of both sides to feel guilty. That is the denouement.
As a writer, it’s important to keep this in mind when crafting your own story. While you want to give away bits of information about your plot (and subplots) throughout, you want to save the juiciest revelations for the end, rewarding readers for staying the course. That’s the ultimate goal of any good denouement