How to Write an Essay Synopsis

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Writing a synopsis for an essay or any other piece of literature is simply about determining the most important parts of a piece of work and using this information to provide a brief summary. In your synopsis you want to highlight the most important facts, as well as the little details that will give your reader a better sense of the essay. The length of your synopsis will depend entirely on what you are writing the synopsis for. It can range from a one paragraph overview to a few pages in length.

  • Computer or Paper with pen/pencil
  • Essay you are reviewing

1 Writing your Essay Synopsis

2 Introduce the main characters

Introduce the main characters and their motivations. You want to write in active voice, avoiding dull and passive language. Identify what characters drive the story, even if in the essay it is strictly in the mind of the narrator. Then explain how the characters move the essay.

3 Describe the setting

Describe the setting to give visuals for the reader. Establish the place and time the essay takes place. These kind of cues will give readers a better sense of the feel of the essay, as well as allow them to create a picture in their heads.

4 Identify the major themes

Identify the major themes of the essay. What is the author of the essay trying to convey? Are there recurring images, dialogue, or situations that act as symbolism in the essay for the overarching meaning behind the essay? If so, identify this information and work it into your synopsis.

5 Diagram the plot structure

Diagram the plot structure. Even if the essay is completely about one narrator’s thought about one thing, chances are there is some structure to the essay. Diagramming this in your pre-writing and including it in your essay will explain the overall action in the essay.

6 Know your audience

Know your audience to make your synopsis as effective as possible. If you are writing this synopsis to encourage readers to read the original essay, be sure not to give away the ending or too many details. Rather, pique their interest and leave them wanting more. If you are writing to show understanding, include all the information that demonstrates you have properly comprehended the essay.

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.