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The Perks of Summary Writing: Why Writers Need to Know Them

March 20, 2022| Category: Writing Tips

Bibliophiles often say that it is a bookish “sin” to read summaries instead of full-fledged works. These are shorter descriptions of lengthy scientific oeuvres or literary pieces, which also serve its useful purpose. A summary aims to reveal the main insights of the plot, fundamental ideas and arguments. Yet, it does not cover all the details of the work in question.

In any case, such overviews are necessary, especially in the world where information exchange is too fast. Sometimes, you just don’t have time to read the whole book but you need to comprehend its basic motives and intellectual value. Considering a fleeting pace of content making, an ordinary writer usually does not have enough time to process all the material to create yet another article with a pressing deadline. Thus, summaries of books, scientific researches, and product descriptions become incredibly helpful. They save your time that could have been dedicated to long reading. Consequently, it is easy to be more productive, generating high-quality content regularly.

Having understood the usefulness of summary reading, we will further concentrate on summary writing. We made up a succinct guide, which elucidates how to produce a summary at a professional level.

How to define summary?

Although a summary is directly related to brief elucidation of a written work, this term is quite extensive. You can summarize anything that has a plot or revolves around a specific subject matter. Typically, there is a range of summaries of books, historical documents, academic oeuvres, and films.

The key feature of a summary is its concision. One paragraph is usually enough to retell the fundamental aspects of the topic. However, is it even possible to summarize such lengthy literary oeuvres as “Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter”? No, overviews of lengthy works take several pages. The only drawback is that such summaries turn into spoilers, as you encompass major plot-entwining elements, including various climaxes and the revelation of the works’ endings.

If you need to create a good summary, then you should remember it is important not to alter the facts, provide personal subjective opinions, as well as reflect prejudices. Occasionally, summaries are written for commercial purposes. For instance, you can write enticing summaries on popular TV series. Still, when you produce a summary of an academic work, your writing should be endowed with formal and factual features.

4 Key Steps of Summary Writing

You don’t need to invent the wheel to master the perks of summary writing. You can make use of conventional best tips for all good writing to create outstanding summaries. Memorize the following 4 helpful hints by heart to become a summary writing connoisseur.

1. Indulge in reading or watching the original source

As a summary writer, you will not release yourself from a responsibility of being an avid reader. If you have to process written material, then you must read a lot. If your overview is based on a movie, then you cannot watch just some part of it. You should watch the entire motion picture. Despite reading or watching, it is advisable to jot down all the essential details and themes. They will become substantial elements of your summary.

When you have to produce a brief book review, then you may be tempted to look through the already existent summaries and simply rewrite them. Such tactic is not recommended. It will simply hinder your normal critical thinking as well as blunt the edge of your creative potential. All in all, you don’t want to lose your individual “authorly voice”, right? Besides, it doesn’t mean that summaries of others are trustworthy and relevant. Hence, if writing path is your vocation, you have to tread it right from the start, not skipping the essential moments of learning and improving.

2. Take outlining seriously

It is a grave mistake of many beginners: the neglection of outlining stage. Even if you are well-familiar with the topic and you are sure that you can summarize it without any problems, the absence of a well-thought-out outline may only exacerbate the creation of a logical and succinct overview.

If you summarize a scholarly paper or a short story, then your overview will consist of a few action points only. If you summarize a lengthy novel or a trilogy, then your outline will be embodied by quite an extensive list denoting several paragraphs of the essential contextual material. When writing summaries of any kind, it is significant to prioritize. Therefore, a well-organized online is deemed to help you discern between the most crucial points and trivial ones.

If your summary can get somewhat creative, then you can rely on your memory and direct influences provoked by the events you experienced. Yet, it can bring about personal prejudices, which do not reflect the objective reality. So, it is essential not to mix your preferences with rational perception of the issue. If you sense some gaps should be filled, then it is vital to read or watch the material all over again. It is primarily applicable to lengthier sources, which have to be divided into parts, which, in their turn, should be processed separately. For example, if you write summaries of research papers, it is beneficial to create separate lists core findings and approaches used.

3. Summarize using individual approaches

It does not matter whether you are tasked with summarizing a motion picture, a book, or a scholarly project, you can apply chronological order in all those cases. Furthermore, the main focus is not on the consecutive arrangements but on the individual approaches towards the topic disclosure.

In some cases, direct quoting is helpful when the citation supports your argument. Yet, it is much better to use the original language and express unique individual opinions. It is not less important to keep your target audience in mind. You have to realize that summaries are usually written for people poorly familiar with the topic. Thus, your mission is to enlighten so many potential readers on the burning issue or a cutting-edge matter.

If to look at the linguistic side of summaries, you will instantly grasp the importance of transitions. Coherence of the context between every next sentence is crucial, as you have to elucidate one point and then quickly jump to another. It may seem to be overwhelming for inexperienced readers.

Hence, transitional words, such as consequently, nevertheless, howeveras a resultin the meantime, in contrast, among others, help your readers “have a short break” from the previous ideas to switch to new ones.

4. Proofread and revise to make your summary impeccable

When your first summary draft is completed, it is too early to say “Hooray, I’ve done it!” It is quintessential to reread everything you have written and correct all the mistakes you did not notice in the process of writing. You will see that some points you mentioned are of secondary value. Thus, you have to get rid of them or substitute less relevant thoughts with more appropriate ideas if the word count of your summary is still acceptable.

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