How to Write a Summary

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How should I begin writing a summary, from the first person or from the third? 

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Summaries should be written in the third person. They are meant to be objective pieces of writing that quickly highlight the most important points of a story, chapter, or entire book. A summary focuses solely on the content of what you have read, never on your opinion or thoughts about the content. When you present a summary, you want your reader to be confident that you are communicating only what the writer said, not your own ideas about it.

Being able to summarize successfully is an important skill that requires getting out of your head and into the mind of the writer. Identifying with the writer makes it easier to discern what is most important to him or her rather than getting bogged down in details that might be of interest to you but which veer from the main points that the writer is trying to make. Beyond being the standard way of writing a summary, third person helps you detach yourself and become a conduit or channel for the writer's thoughts.

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If you are writing a summary about something that you've read, a teacher will almost ALWAYS want that summary to be objective and third person, meaning that you (and your opinion and experiences) have nothing to do with what you're writing about.

Let's say I was writing a summary of the story of "The Three Little Pigs." (You know, the fairy tale / nursery rhyme where the Big Bad Wolf comes and huffs, and puffs, etc.)?

I would write something like, "This story tells the tale of three pigs who each choose to build their homes out of something different.  The first pig builds a house of straw, the second a house of wood, and the third a house of brick.  When a 'big bad' wolf came and threatens that he'll blow the pigs' houses down, only the house of the little pig with the house of bricks withstand the threat."

Do you see how the above summary doesn't involve the first person?  It is simply a shorter retelling of the main points of the story.  I hope that helps you!

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