Writing a summary is one of the basic skills of writing. However, many people still do not know what a correct summary looks like. Here are a few rules about what needs to be done correctly when writing and what doesn’t work. You will easily write a summary with do’s and don’ts for the perfect text.
The aim of a summary is that the reader gets as good and detailed as the possible impression of a text that he has not yet read. The summary should be as short and concise as possible and, at the same time still, inform the reader well. There are several steps involved in writing a good summary. The most important basis is that the summarized text is understood. The drama “Die Räuber” by Friedrich Schiller serves as an example for the various points.
Writing a summary: the preparation.
Table of Contents
- Writing a summary: the preparation.
- The writing style
- The opening sentence
- The main part
- The final part
Writing a summary: Nothing works without preparation.
Do: The most important thing is that you read the text very well in preparation. That also means: Don’t just read once, but at least twice, or even better three times. You should also be actively reading during the second round. It means that you should make notes in the margin on the one hand and underline important points with highlighters on the other. To do this, think about a certain system in advance that you feel comfortable with and that logically structures for you.
Don´t: You should never assume that you can grasp a text completely if you have only read it once. An unstructured look at the template text is a big problem for a successful summary. The purpose of a summary is that the reader has a good overview of the template text and then knows exactly what it is about.
The writing style
Do: Always write your summary in the present tense. This rule generally applies and universally to all similar forms of text. Texts written in the present tense are much easier for the reader to grasp and are much more accessible and digestible. A summary is about the reader being able to see very quickly what a particular text is about.
Good example: Franz is in love with Amalia and wants to ask for her hand. Since she doesn’t want him and keeps rejecting him, Franz threatens her with sending her to a monastery.
Don´t: Avoid time changes and complicated sentence structures. Above all, passive constructions and past tenses are not conducive to a good and easy-to-consume text. You should also avoid writing long sentences and using many commas. After all, you should always leave out unnecessary information and filler words.
Bad example: Franz is very much in love with the beautiful Amalia and has long wanted to ask for her hand. But since the young thing is always gracing itself, Franz gets very angry and threatens her, again and again, to put her in a monastery for a long time.
The opening sentence
Do: The introductory sentence or the introductory part is an important part of the summary and gives the reader an initial orientation. To write a complete introduction, always answer the six big W questions. Who, what, how, when, where, and why. If you stick to these questions, nothing can go wrong because you have used the most important information in your introduction.
Good example: Friedrich Schiller’s drama “Die Räuber” from 1781 is a play in five acts and creates in the epoch of Sturm und Drang. It is about the rivalry between the two brothers Karl and Franz von Moor. The younger brother Franz tries to outdo his older brother Karl through intrigues to get his father’s inheritance.
Don´t: Never use too complicated and difficult sentences in your introduction because that confuses the reader. It must be immediately clear in the first two or three sentences what the text is about, who wrote it when, where, and why. Avoid long sentences and unnecessary information that can confuse the reader. Imprecise and unclear wording make the text tough and boring.
Bad example: The drama “Die Räuber” by Friedrich Schiller did write in five acts, divided into different scenes. In addition, the drama was written in the earlier epoch of Sturm und Drang, in which many other dramas were created. The book is about two brothers fighting for an inheritance, one being uglier than the other.
The main part
Do: The main part is the most important part of the summary. Here you show that you have understood the text and get to the heart of the template text. Make sure that you structure the text and do not mix up individual points and the chronology of the summarized text. The reader of your summary must get a complete picture of the template.
Don´t: What you should avoid in your summary are quotations and direct speech. Both have no place in your text and ensure an unstructured image of the text. A change of tense, for example, from the present tense to the past, can also confuse the reader of your summary.
A good example of indirect speech: At the beginning of the drama, Karl mentions that mail has arrived from Leipzig.
Bad example: Franz says right at the beginning: “The post has arrived – a letter from our correspondent in Leipzig.”
The final part
Do: The final part of a summary is usually optional. It is because he summarizes the summary again, which is often considered redundant. You can also give the text a personal note here. That means, for example, you can write your own opinion about the text, make a review of the work or write about the style. Keep yourself as brief and concise as possible and stick to the default of about three to four sentences. Above all, make it clear that the text of the final part stands out clearly from the main part. Make it clear that the text reflects your opinion and not universal knowledge.
Good example: The drama is about a family feud that can place in a social context. Franz Moor intrigues his father’s preferred brother, Karl Moor. He believes he has been cast out by his father and joins a band of robbers to avenge the “social” injustice. Style and language fit perfectly into the spirit of optimism of Sturm und Drang and thematize the will to revolt against the authorities and the existing system at the time. For this time, the language of the work was considered unrestrained, which was of great importance for the development of the dramas at that time.
Don´t: Avoid at all costs that you write too much and too long about your summary. In this part, too, you should avoid nested sentences. If you have decided on your own opinion, under no circumstances mix up different approaches such as review and interpretation. Make a clear distinction here and try not to do both at once.
Bad example: The drama is a family drama that also fits very well into the time. Franz Moor intrigues his father’s preferred brother Karl Moor so that he believes he has been rejected by his father and has joined a band of robbers to avenge his injustice. Style and language fit perfectly into the spirit of optimism of Sturm und Drang and thematize the will to revolt against the authorities and the existing system at the time. For this time, the language of the work was considered unrestrained, which was of great importance for the development of the dramas at that time. Perhaps the author has linked this intending to be rebellious. All in all, it’s a drama that fits in with the times and is pretty easy to read.