Writing a Summary
A summary (要約) is a condensed version of a larger reading. A summary is not a rewrite of the original piece and does not have to be long nor should it be long. 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 pay attention to the title and any headings and to the opening and closing lines of paragraphs.
In writing the summary, let your reader know the piece that you are summarizing. Identify the title, author and source of the piece. You may want to use this formula:
In "Title of the Piece" (source and date of piece), author shows that: central idea of the piece. The author supports the main idea by using _____________________ and showing that ___________________________.
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.
Source: Santa Monica College Reading Center