mango_lassie: (Grrr)
[personal profile] mango_lassie
This is going to sound utterly stupid, but...how do you write a summary?

No, really. A summary is more than just "this guy was in jail and then he was let out. He learned that his wife and best friend were dead, and then some crazy old guy offered him a job as an errand boy,"* etc, etc.

All throughout my high school career, summaries were seen as EVOL and so we never wrote them. Now I have to choose something we've read in English and summarize it in one paragraph.

To make it even harder, they're all memoir type things full of self reflection and otherwise poetic nonsense. How the hell do you summarize that? (How would you summarize say, Wind, Sand and Stars?)

This song has been stuck in my head for days now. I wish I put Weird Al on my mp3 player so when I'm feeling shitty in Drawing for being unable to draw angles to save my life, I'd have something funny to listen to. Actually, I need to get Scott to let me burn all his Weird Al cds because I'm too lazy to drive out to Best Buy. Nyeeeh!

Did I mention that the only thing I have on my i-Tunes is either punk rock or The Beatles?

Date: 2006-09-28 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chairman-wow.livejournal.com
I don't think I ever really learned how to sumarise things either. Apart from wrting abstracts for reseacrh essays, but that's different.
Perhaps a few words on the characters setting and plot, a few words on the major themes, and a few words on the author (intention or background or whatever)?

Date: 2006-09-28 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyleetsohn.livejournal.com
Depending on how long or short you need the summary to be, and also depending on how long the aritcle/poem/story is...

It's best if you take it part by part/paragraph by paragraph/line by line, whatever, and ask yourself: What is this paragraph saying? Write a couple sentences just on THAT paragraph. Then continue to the next one, and so on and so forth until you have finished. Then, re-read your sentences and see if they make sense, have all the most important info etc. You may need to fill it out a bit, or be more concise, or whatever, but that should be your basic summary that you can work with.

Date: 2006-09-28 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beetle-breath.livejournal.com
Thanks, that's really helpful. =D

Date: 2006-09-28 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyleetsohn.livejournal.com
I'm glad to be of use :o) Any progress? ;o)

Date: 2006-09-28 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyleetsohn.livejournal.com
If you're doing something book length and need a longer summary, do chapter by chapter and instead of a couple sentences, do a short paragraph.

Date: 2006-09-28 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beetle-breath.livejournal.com
It's not a book, it's about 8 pages.

Date: 2006-09-28 12:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skinnyvee.livejournal.com
If you're hoping to avoid stilted language, the way I look at it is that summaries, in a way, are like those things that you read on the back of book covers, only more specific to what's inside the book, and more like an essay. I don't know if that makes any sense... *_*;;

Date: 2006-09-28 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skinnyvee.livejournal.com
In addendum to that, I say: don't worry about the little ideas. Run with the over-arching theme.

Date: 2006-09-28 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skinnyvee.livejournal.com
*details

I wish you could edit comments...

Date: 2006-09-28 02:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andremeese.livejournal.com
Hey there!

I've BS'ed my way through every summary I've ever written. For deep, meaningful things, I always end up saying something like:

The power in the author's choice of words reflects a deep awareness of his/her/its place in this world. (Description of first part) sets the stage for a dramatic/deep/bitter/optimistic/whatever view of the later chapters. His/Her/Its careful phrasing fills us with a sense of hope/dread/anxiety/whatever as we come to find out that (next major event) comes to pass. No sooner than the impact of this event is realized, (another major event) strikes our protagonist! Luckily/Unfortunantly it does/doesn't work out well for our hero, and the reader is left with a vague sense of well-being/uncertainty/unease/satisfaction by the end of it.


Thus, you have AndreMeese's personal summary template! :)

Date: 2006-09-28 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beetle-breath.livejournal.com
I'll have to see if that works. Right now I'm slacking!

Date: 2006-09-28 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andremeese.livejournal.com
I've never heard of the book you're using. :) I'm curious to see if it could work, lol. It did very well on The Scarlet Letter, Slaughterhouse Five, and Frankenstein.

Date: 2006-09-28 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beetle-breath.livejournal.com
You mean Wind, Sand and Stars? I'm not actually using that book, I just threw it in as an example.

You should read it, though. It's very good if you like French almost philosophy.

Date: 2006-09-28 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trusting-fool.livejournal.com
I'm encountering the same thing in my writing class! WTF why summaries huh?

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