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Writing a good summary, book report

Tips for writing a good summary for a book report

Nov 21, 2012 - Posted to  Book Report, Review Writing
Summary of a book can be defined as a comprehensive yet brief abstract of the book that facilitates readers with a concise overview of the book. Hence, the summary of a book report is supposed to provide a compendium of the main events, facts and examples of the book. Since the summary is the main part of the book report that tells the audience about the most important aspects of the book, one has to be more careful in choosing what to include and what not to include in the summary.
Discussed below are few tips that will help you in writing a good summary for a book report:

Read One Chapter/Section At A Time

Read the book one chapter at a time to make the reading process more interesting and effective. Use your imagination to explore the events of the book and to understand the characters of the book. If the book doesn't have many chapters, break the larger chapters to smaller sections so that you can focus on smaller parts of the text at a time; this can be of special help, especially as reading one section/chapter at a time leads to effective reading and better understanding.
Reading smaller sections helps in spotting important points of the book. It is recommended that you make notes of important points while reading so that you have them handy when you start the writing process. There is a possibility that you find the book or the plot very interesting and get engrossed into it without making any notes; in such cases, do not stop yourself from completing the book, just read it again to make notes. On the contrary, sometimes you might have to re-read the book to gain more insight on the tone and the style of the book and making notes while doing so also proves helpful in collating the most important aspects of the book.

Organize and Compose

After having made the notes, pick important points from the notes of each chapter; the next step is to organize notes in a logical and sequential order. Include only the important and relevant points to outline the plot of the book. Ensure that the title of the work and its author are mentioned clearly so that there is no scope for ambiguity in the minds of the readers. There is a huge probability that you have made extensive notes, and hence is a good idea to try and write the central idea of the chapter in one sentence, as it will help you to condense the story in a better and crisp way.
Since you are writing the summary for a book report and not a book review, do not express any of your opinions or views on the book while describing the main events or characters of the plot. It must also be stressed here that the entire summary has to be written in the present tense. With so many chapter summaries and points accumulated, it is now time to organize them into interesting paragraphs in such a way that the flow of thought resembles the flow of the story in the book. You might not be able to present the entire summary in a single paragraph, and hence you should be careful in breaking the summary into a number of paragraphs.

Give Relative Weightage to the Chapters in the Summary

Ensure that you give relative weightage to the chapters as they were presented in the book, by splitting the summary in a suitable manner. However, extra care has to be taken to make sure that the transition from one paragraph to the other is logical, and that it does not disturb the flow of the story. Include as many details about the characters and the plot in a short and simple manner, and try to emphasize on the author's point of view through the narration of the story. The headings and sub titles used in the book will give an idea about the author's point of view on the plot, especially as the relevance of these headings to the plot forms an argument of interest.

While Writing, Keep Your Audience in Mind

Because you are writing the summary, every aspect of the book will be detailed, but there is a certain limitation to it when the audience of your book report has not read the book yet. If there is an ending of the book, which has to be kept secret for the reader to discover while reading the book, then you cannot simply reveal it and instead you can use convincing statements to make the audience read the book. Based upon the nature of the story, you have to choose a way to end your summary. If the book report is being written for a book of non-fictional genre, then the summary should simply contain the main events of the book, and important examples detailing the author's point of view on that particular subject. In the end of your summary, restate the main idea of the book and tell the reader about the aspects of the book that you have liked or disliked and why. If you want to recommend this book to the audience, then you might want to tell them why you do so.

Convey the Author's Point Accurately

After writing the summary, read it to check if it is accurate in conveying the author's point of view and other crucial aspects of the book. Now, keeping the format of the book report in mind, read the book again. This will help you to check if the summary fits well into the rest of the book report. Proofread your summary twice to eliminate any grammatical or spelling errors. It is a good idea to read the summary as a person who did not read the book, especially as it will help you see if you have been able to convey the main idea of the effectively. This will also help you to check if you have concentrated more on any specific part of the book and that can be edited as required.
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