What Is A Synopsis?
©1999 Edward G. Rozycki

edited 4/5/12

A synopsis is primarily a condensation, an outline or a short presentation of an article, of an essay or of a book.

A synopsis is not a list of opinions, or an examination of the feelings and/or conscious states, e.g. likes, dislikes, preferences, annoyances, etc., of the writer of the synopsis.

If the writer wants to addend his or her reactions, he or she must take care to explain all the relevant points in the original article reacted to.

What Should A Synopsis Look Like?

Part A: The Body of the Synopsis -- the minimal conditions

1. First indicate a concern of the author, or a point argued by the author. A complex article will have more than one of these but treat them one by one.

2. What secondary points does the author make to establish the importance of his or her concern, or to reach the conclusion of his or her argument?

3. What reasons does the author give for these secondary points?

4. Answer questions 1, 2, and 3 for each important item in the article.

Part B: Reaction and Evaluation - This is ALWAYS secondary!
1. Your personal judgments must be directed only at items brought up in Part A.

2. Give reasons for your judgments. These can be the citation of counterevidence, concerns about the consequences of the points made by the author, or similar things. These reasons are never just your feelings. Your responsibility as a scholar is to give the reader of your synopsis -- assumed to be someone other than a close friend of yours -- good reasons for agreeing with your evaluations.

"Everyone is entitled to his (her) own opinion!"

This may be a "rule" for casual conversation, parties and television talk shows, but not for a synopsis or any kind of scholarly work.

What is desired is not your opinion,
but your informed and considered judgment!