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How to Write a Summary


How to Write a Summary
A summary is a shorter version of the original. Such a simplification highlights the major points from the much longer subject, such as a text, speech, film, or event. To write a summary, use your own words to express briefly the main idea and relevant details of the piece you have read.   Your purpose in writing the summary is to give the basic ideas of the original reading.  What was it about and what did the author want to communicate? 
While reading the original work, take note of what or who is the focus and ask the usual questions that reporters use:
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? 
 Using these questions to examine what you are reading can help you to write the summary.
Sometimes, the central idea of the piece is stated in the introduction or first paragraph, and the supporting ideas of this central idea are presented one by one in the following paragraphs. Always read the introductory paragraph thoughtfully and look for a thesis statement.  Finding the thesis statement is like finding a key to a locked door.  Frequently, however, the thesis, or central idea, is implied or suggested.  Thus, you will have to work harder to figure out what the author wants readers to understand. Use any hints that may shed light on the meaning of the piece: pay attention to the title and any headings and to the opening and closing lines of paragraphs.
A written summary starts with a lead, including title, author, text type, and the main idea of the text. It has a clearly arranged structure and is paraphrased with new words without quotations from the text. Unlike a retelling, a summary is written in present tense or historical present. In summaries only indirect speech is used and depictions are avoided.

Here is a sample summary:
In the short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," author James Thurber humorously presents a character who fantasizes about himself as a hero enduring incredibly challenging circumstances. In his real life, Walter Mitty lives an ordinary, plain life; he is a husband under the control of an overbearing, critical wife.  Thurber uses lively dialogue to give readers an understanding of Mitty's character. The story takes place over a period of about twenty minutes; during this brief time, Mitty drives his wife to the hairdresser and runs errands  that his wife has given him while he waits for her. In between his worrying that he is not doing what she wants him to do, he daydreams about himself as a great surgeon, brilliant repair technician, expert marksman, and brave military captain. This story shows that fantasy is often a good alternative to reality.
Remember:
·  Do not rewrite the original piece.
·  Keep your summary short.
·  Use your own wording.
·  Refer to the central and main ideas of the original piece.
·  Read with who, what, when, where, why and how questions in mind.
·  Do not put in your opinion of the issue or topic discussed in the original piece.


Word List on Summaries (fiction)
Introduction


(Title) is a novel by (author).
(Title) was written by (author).
The story is about (topic).
The novel tells the story of (hero/topic).
(Title) tells of (hero), who ...
In (title) by (author), the reader is taken
into (place/time of story).
(Title) is the story of (hero/action/...)
(Title) is set in the period of (event).
The text presents/describes…


Content


As the story begins, ...
During ...
While ...
As/When ...
Since/As ...
Just then ...
After ...
Before ...
Before long ...
Soon ...
Soon afterwards ...
As soon as ...
One day/evening ...
The following day ...
Some time later ...
Hours/Months/Years later, ....
By morning/the next day/the time ...
Meanwhile ...
However, ...
Again/Once again ...
At this point ...
To his surprise ...
This incident is/was followed by ...
To make matters even worse ...
Eventually, .../Finally, ...

The author (narrator)

Says, states, points out that…
Claims, thinks, believes that…
Describes, explains, makes clear that…
Criticizes, analyses, comments on…
Tries to express…
Argues that…
Suggests that…
Compares X to Y…
Doubts that…
Tries to convince the readers that…
Concludes that…

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