Writing a Summary of a Short Story
Posted on 3/20/2017
It is very important to learn to write a summary; that is, to make explicit, in our own words, literally what happened in a story. But, without a strategy to do so, developing readers struggle to summarize a story.
However, when they learn to use strategies to do so, their ability to make meaning and comprehend shoots way up.
How do we summarize a short story?
Why is it important to summarize a short story?
One Effective Strategy for Summarizing a Short Story
There are the five elements of a story:
Writing a summary of a short story, we need to cover these elements and make explicit in our own words what happened relative to these five elements of a story.
The following process is a great strategy to do this:
1. Write a few sentences – in your own words – stating the main message or gist of the story.
2. Write a few sentences about the setting of the story in the context of the story.
3. Write a few sentences about the main characters in the context of the story.
4. Write a few sentences about the conflict of the story in the context of the story.
5. Write several sentences to summarize the sequence of events using transitions effectively:
First, ... Then, ... Next, .... Finally, ...
6. Write a few sentences about how the conflict was resolved.
7. Write a few sentences restating the the message or gist of the story that began the summary, but this time doing it in a slightly different way with the aim of bringing closure to the summary.
When we use a structured outline to summarize in this way, for each short story we read, this way of thinking soon becomes a habit of mind.
This strategy aims to grow a learner’s ability to readily make explicit in their own words what happened in a short story, while intentionally covering the essential literary elements of a story.
When we guide and coach students to develop this strategy through a gradual release of responsibility on a regular basis, they they develop the ability to summarize a short story.