I’m trying to study for my English course and I need some help to understand this question.

The Assignment

Compose five short paragraph-length summaries, one for each of your self-selected short stories and submit it below. Please read and study each story carefully along with the instructional materials on how to write a summary and the sample story summary located in the unit before you attempt this assignment.

Your task here is to summarize the writing as well as the plot and themes of each story – do not just write a simple plot description of what happens (you can cover that in one or two sentences). Instead, observe and describe the writing itself and the “piece as a whole”:

    • Introduce the author and title and publishing date of the story and the book, collection or journal it comes from
    • List important characters, settings and time frames
    • Identify major themes, symbols, and metaphors in the work
    • Describe the speaker(s), voice(s), and the point(s) of view from which the story is told
    • Note other significant formal elements and devices deployed in the storytelling

Give us a full picture of what this work looks like on the page.

Summary paragraphs that only retell the plot of the story will receive 0 points. You must practice moving beyond simple story retelling here and describe, in specific detail, the formal elements of the writing itself. This is not your grade school book report that I’m asking you for. I’m asking for a holistic, non-plot linear description of the writing, the form of the narrative, the composition of the whole work, its elements and features.

Remember also that although this is formal academic writing work, it is not persuasive writing: Don’t advance your opinion on what’s in the story or make an argument about its effectiveness: You are only here to summarize: REPORT and DESCRIBE what you’ve read to an imagined ignorant audience who you may assume has no knowledge of these stories until you tell them.

Be very careful not to insert yourself (using I or me) into the discussion, and be very careful not to give us your opinion of the writing. I am only looking for straight description work here: describe what you’ve read, to an ignorant reader, just like a reporter would.

This assignment is meant to help you explore all the dimensions of your chosen stories and to give you practice articulating those as a way of practicing for the same kind of work you’ll do with your final story selection (from one of these three stories) for the essay at the end of the unit. If you are able to explain and summarize your stories here, you will be able to analyze your final story choice more effectively in your essay.

How to Write a Story Summary

Summaries must be written entirely in your own words, using well-proofread academic language. There should be no textual quotes other than titles in your summaries, and you’ll need to make sure you’re staying in 3rd person voice (he, she, it, the text, the author, [a person’s name], etc.) and using present verb tense throughout your summary writing.

Be careful not to insert yourself using I or me into the discussion, and be careful not to give us your opinion of the writing. I am only looking for straight summary work here: describe what you’ve read, to an ignorant reader, just like a reporter would. Keep your statements concise, your coverage specific and descriptive, and your language academic. You will find a sample summary paragraph within the unit module – please read it first before you attempt your own summary here.

There must be no sentence level errors in your work. Proofread repeatedly, slowly and methodically, off the computer on paper as well as on the screen (and remember not to rely on auto spell checks or grammar checks to do this work for you, as those search tools will miss errors in your work). Late, under-length, non-proofread, insufficiently supported or developed, and/or off-topic submissions will not be accepted.

Each paragraph must be a minimum of 5 sentences and a maximum of 7 sentences long. 5 paragraphs, one for each of 5 different stories, are required. This assignment is worth 15 points.


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