Writing to Summarise
You will need to select one or more suitable newspaper stories or magazine articles and photocopy them for the group.
A selection of highlighter pens would be useful.
Also photocopy and give out the following handout * to * . NB.This can be found on the blog: writersend.com in ‘Advice and Information’ and it might be useful to ask the members to read it on line before the class.
As a practical skill many people need to be able to summarise efficiently. Students definitely; they need to read and write notes, which are effectively summaries, for reference and in preparing essays; but also many jobs and professions require summaries of meetings, reports, accidents or incidents at work, disputes, work-practice changes, articles relevant to the business in hand, and so on.
In writing fiction a character may need to demonstrate any type of writing skill relevant to their role, as a journalist, policeman, business executive, spy, doctors …..
Writing a summary involves selection, which implies being able to recognise the important points and then being able to write concisely.
If the notes you are making are for your own use then you can use your own shorthand and abbreviations but if they are for someone else then they should be clear, well written and accurate or they are pointless.
A summary, particularly if it is of a text, does not call for opinions or your own ideas. It requires that you distil the essential points, in your own words, remaining faithful to the source.
It usually starts with a statement of the main theme of the original and gives author, title and source, if for example it is an article from a journal, or part of a book. You must give credit and use your own words if you are summarising text or you might be guilty of plagiarism. You are showing that you have understood what you have read and copying text or using lots of quotes does not do that.
It may be useful to identify and underline or highlight the main points before you begin to write a summary of a text.
Deciding on which are the main points and putting them into your own words provides valuable practice in writing and editing.
A summary is usually shorter than the original and if it is a report of an incident or meeting it is best not to include direct speech but to merely sum up what someone said, if it is essential. Often something along the lines of, ‘A discussion took place and a decision was taken to do…..’ will be adequate. If you are reporting on a meeting and minutes are to be provided later then there is no need to provide details of the discussion, just focus on what was discussed and the outcome.
If you are reporting on an incident, perhaps a dispute or accident at work it is acceptable to mention gestures and tone briefly, for example, ‘Mr Jones raised his voice and made a fist as he shouted at Miss Smith.’
If you said, ‘ He was being really horrible and aggressive and he even swore and told her she was careless and inefficient then, when she looked like she was going to burst into tears he shook his fist and said “Get out of here and don´t come back.” He was nearly apoplectic.’
That is not a summary, it is an opinionated description of the writer´s perception of what happened.
Knowing what is required in a summary will help you to summarise well.
Discuss the handout.
Give out a story from a newspaper or magazine. Ask the members of the group to underline, or highlight the main points and then write a summary of the article in 150-200 words. Depending on the size of the group you might choose two stories, and give half one item, and half the other.
Share and discuss the results.
Then ask then to rewrite it and reduce it to a maximum of 70 words.
Blog 66 (Category:Group Sessions) Tags:Styles,Practice,Language,Description