For the Love of Research: CH 8 Using Sources – The Summary

For the Love of Research:  CH 8 Using Sources – The Summary

CH 8 Using Sources – The Summary

The Summary

Students are often asked to write summaries.  Here are some example summary assignments:

  • Your speech instructor may ask you to write two 200 word summaries of op-ed articles, one in favor of campaign finance reform and the other against it.
  • Your history instructor may ask you to write a 1,000 word summary of a thirty page text book chapter on progressive reform in California during the early twentieth century.
  • Your film teacher may ask you to write a 300 word summary of a film followed up by a 300 word critique of the mise-en-scène.

While summary assignments vary, there are several guidelines that apply to writing any summary:

    1. The summary should be shorter than the original.
    2. The first sentence should include the text’s title, author, subject and thesis (what the author has to say about the subject).
    3. The summary should include the author’s key points.
    4. Summaries generally include some information about form:  How does the author get his or her point across?  What mode, tone or voice is employed?  What kind of evidence is used to back up the thesis?
    5. incorporating summaries into your essay is a good way to provide background information.
    6. Warning:  while some professors want you to follow up your summary with a commentary, summaries themselves should not include personal opinion.

Here is one way to write a summary

Model assignment:  Summarize the film Shrek in 300 words or less.

Step 1:  In any order, write down all elements that seem important about the film Shrek.  Categorize the elements as major or minor details:

MAJOR DETAILS

MINOR DETAILS

  • Shrek lives in a bog
  • He becomes friends with Donkey
  • Shrek rescues Fiona from a castle after outrunning a dragon
  • Dragon falls in love with Donkey
  • Lord Farquaad sends Shrek to rescue Fiona and bring her back to be his wife
  • Shrek is an ogre
  • This comedy is made to make both kids and adults laugh
  • The townspeople are afraid of him
  • He is lonely and a little depressed
  • It takes two days for Shrek, Fiona and Donkey to return to Duloc
  • Fiona turns into an ogre at sunset but hides this fact from Shrek
  • The movie has great music
  • Fiona buys into the courtly love ideal
  • Shrek makes fun of the courtly love ideal
  • Fiona chooses Shrek at the last minute when Lord Farquaad’s scheme is revealed
  • Donkey plays matchmaker
  • Lord Farquaad only wants to marry Fiona so he can become king
  • Shrek and Fiona fall in love and get married
  • The movie incorporates and pokes fun at fairytale and Disney characters
  • A lover’s quarrel almost keeps Shrek and Fiona apart
  • Fiona chooses to live as an ogre
  • Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are great together
  • There are three sequels
  • Donkey talks a lot, sings and annoys Shrek
  • On the journey, Shrek, Fiona and Donkey fight Robinhood and his merry men
  • All the fairytale creatures are banished from Farquaad’s kingdom to Shrek’s bog
  • Shrek goes to Duloc to find out what’s going on and ends up fighting Farquaad’s knights
  • All the fairytale creatures come to Shrek and Fiona’s wedding
  • Fiona sings well and she’s a good fighter
  • Prince Farquaad takes advice from a magic mirror
  • He is short and bossy

 

Step 2:  Reorganize the major details chronologically.  Separate out the major details that have to do with the film’s form.

  1. Shrek is an ogre
  2. Shrek lives in a bog
  3. The townspeople are afraid of him
  4. He is lonely and a little depressed
  5. He becomes friends with Donkey
  6. Lord Farquaad sends Shrek to rescue Fiona and bring her back to be his wife
  7. Lord Farquaad only wants to marry Fiona so he can become king
  8. Shrek rescues Fiona from a castle after outrunning a dragon
  9. Fiona buys into the courtly love ideal
  10. Shrek makes fun of the courtly love ideal
  11. Dragon falls in love with Donkey
  12. It takes two days for Shrek, Fiona and Donkey to return to Duloc
  13. Fiona turns into an ogre at sunset but hides this fact from Shrek
  14. A lover’s quarrel almost keeps Shrek and Fiona apart
  15. Donkey plays matchmaker
  16. Fiona chooses Shrek at the last minute when Lord Farquaad’s scheme is revealed
  17. Shrek and Fiona fall in love and get married
  18. Fiona chooses to live as an ogre

 

The Film’s Form

  1. This comedy is made to make both kids and adults laugh
  2. The movie has great music
  3. Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are great together
  4. The movie incorporates and pokes fun at fairytale and Disney characters

 

Step 3:  Format the list of major details as a paragraph.  Place comments about the film’s form at the end.

Shrek is an ogre.  Shrek lives in a bog.  The townspeople are afraid of him.  He is lonely and a little depressed.  He becomes friends with Donkey.  Lord Farquaad sends Shrek to rescue Fiona and bring her back to be his wife.  Lord Farquaad only wants to marry Fiona so he can become king.  Shrek rescues Fiona from a castle after outrunning a dragon.  Fiona buys into the courtly love ideal.  Shrek makes fun of the courtly love ideal.  Dragon falls in love with Donkey.  It takes two days for Shrek, Fiona and Donkey to return to Duloc.  Fiona turns into an ogre at sunset but hides this fact from Shrek.  A lover’s quarrel almost keeps Shrek and Fiona apart.  Donkey plays matchmaker.  Fiona chooses  Shrek at the last minute when Lord Farquaad’s scheme is revealed.  Shrek and Fiona fall in love and get married.  Fiona chooses to live as an ogre.  This comedy is made to make both kids and adults laugh.  The movie has great music.  The movie incorporates and pokes fun at fairytale and Disney characters.  Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are great together. (189 words)

 

 

Step 4:  Smooth out the paragraph.

The ogre Shrek lives in a bog.  His neighbors, the townspeople, are afraid of him causing him to be lonely and a little depressed.  Lord Farquaad of Duloc wants to marry the Princess Fiona so he can become king, so he sends Shrek and his new friend, Donkey, to rescue Fiona and bring her back to Duloc.  Shrek outruns a dragon (who falls in love with Donkey) and rescues Fiona who seems to be hung up on the courtly ideal of love.  Shrek, on the other hand, makes fun of the courtly love ideal.   Shrek, Fiona and Donkey walk back to Duloc camping out at night.  Fiona hides herself at sunset so that Shrek doesn’t find out that she turns into an ogre at night.  A lover’s quarrel almost keeps Shrek and Fiona apart, but Donkey plays matchmaker.  Fiona chooses Shrek at the last minute when Lord Farquaad’s scheme is revealed.  Shrek and Fiona, the ogre, get married.  This comedy with its well chosen soundtrack entertains both kids and adults who are especially amused by the way the film pokes fun at the standard fairytale and Disney characters.  Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are great together. (198 words)

 

Step 5:  Continue to revise paragraph:  add or cut as needed.  Note:  Since my summary above only has 198 words, and my Minor Details list has 91 words, I can add in the minor details.

Shrek, the ogre, lives in a bog surrounded by townspeople who chase him with pitchforks.  He is lonely and a little depressed until he meets Donkey who, despite his annoying habits, becomes Shrek’s friend.  After Prince Farquaad, who is extremely short and bossy, banishes all the fairytale creatures from his kingdom to Shrek’s bog, Shrek and Donkey go to Duloc to find out how to get the swamp back.  They meet Lord Farquaad who, on the advice of Magic Mirror, has determined to marry the Princess Fiona in order to become king.  Impressed by the way Shrek pulverizes his knights, Farquaad asks him to rescue Fiona and bring her back to Duloc.  Shrek outruns a dragon (who falls in love with Donkey) to rescue Fiona who is hung up on the courtly ideal of love.  Shrek, on the other hand, makes fun of the tradition of courtly love.  Shrek, Fiona and Donkey walk back to Duloc together, camping out at night.  Fiona hides at sunset so that Shrek doesn’t see how she turns into an ogre each night.  Not only does the enchanted Fiona sing well, but she’s also a good fighter and proves her metal by taking on Robinhood and his merry men.  A lover’s quarrel almost keeps Shrek and Fiona apart, but Donkey plays matchmaker.  Fiona chooses Shrek at the last minute when Lord Farquaad’s scheme is revealed.  Shrek and Fiona, the ogre, invite all the fairytale creatures to their wedding.  This comedy with its well chosen soundtrack entertains both kids and adults who are especially amused by the way the film pokes fun at the standard fairytale and Disney characters.  Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are great together in the original and all three sequels. (290 words)

 

Step 6:  Finish off your summary by adding a first sentence that includes the title, author, subject matter and thesis (i.e. what the author has to say about the subject).  Count words one last time and do any last minute editing.

Dreamworks Animation made the film Shrek about three misfits who are transformed by love.  Shrek lives in a bog surrounded by townspeople who chase him with pitchforks.  He is lonely and a little depressed until he meets Donkey who, despite his annoying habits, becomes Shrek’s best friend.  After Prince Farquaad, who is extremely short and bossy, banishes all the fairytale creatures from his kingdom to Shrek’s bog, Shrek and Donkey go to Duloc to find out how to get the swamp back.  They meet Lord Farquaad who, on the advice of Magic Mirror, has determined to marry the Princess Fiona in order to become king.  Impressed by the way Shrek pulverizes his knights, Farquaad asks him to rescue Fiona and bring her back to Duloc.  Shrek outruns a dragon (who falls in love with Donkey) to rescue Fiona who is obsessed with the courtly ideal of love.  Shrek, on the other hand, makes fun of the tradition of courtly love.  Shrek, Fiona and Donkey walk back to Duloc together, camping out at night.  Fiona hides at sunset so that Shrek doesn’t see how she turns into an ogre each night.  Not only does the enchanted Fiona sing well, but she’s also a good fighter and proves her metal by taking on Robinhood and his merry men.  A lover’s quarrel almost keeps Shrek and Fiona apart, but Donkey plays matchmaker.  Fiona chooses Shrek at the last minute when Lord Farquaad’s scheme is revealed.  Shrek and Fiona, the ogre, invite all the fairytale creatures to their wedding.  This comedy with its well chosen soundtrack entertains both kids and adults who are especially amused by the way the film pokes fun at the standard fairytale and Disney characters.  Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are great together in the original and all three sequels. (302 words)

 

Activity:  Now it’s your turn.  In 300 words, summarize a film you’ve seen recently.  Follow the steps above. 

Write the name of the film you will summarize here: ______________________________________________________________________________

 

One way to write a summary

 

 

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