This week, you continue writing your journal entries. This journal is designed to give you practice in academic writing, which is very different from the personal essay writing that you have been practicing. Academic writing entails making a point and supporting that point with information from a reputable source. There are three ways to support a point with information from a source: quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing. This week, you will practice summarizing a source and citing that source in your journal entry. Please be sure to read and review the “Example Journal Entry – Summarizing (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.” document, which shows how summaries can be integrated. Note: The journal assignment should not be confused with a personal journal. This activity requires organization, effective stylistics and grammar, and proper source incorporation. It is not a free-writing or reflective writing exercise. The personal essay we have read this week, “Consider the Lobster (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.” uses narrative and/or descriptive elements (sections 6.3 and 6.4 in Essentials of College Writing), and each has a clear purpose. Write about one of the essays assigned in this week’s readings. In 250 to 500 words •State the purpose of the essay. •Describe one descriptive writing pattern being used in the essay (refer to section 6.4 in Essentials of College Writing). •Explain why you think that descriptive writing pattern is used well by the writer. Incorporate a summary from the essay and properly cite the essay. •Explain how you plan to use the same descriptive writing pattern in your personal essay.
NG 121: English Composition I
Example Journal Entry: Summarizing
Purpose: Use this example student journal entry to explore important elements that make this an
exemplary submission. Hover over the information symbol ( ) or select the numbers within the text to
read about what the student has done well in this journal entry.
In the essay, “Good Boy, Beau. Stay,” the writer, Anna Quindlen, uses her dog, Beau, as an example of
how we should all live our lives. She tells us that we should live for the moment. ( )[The plot in 1
Quindlen’s essay is a little complicated. In the beginning of the essay, Quindlen is waiting at a
veterinarian’s office for medicine. She notes that she and the vet discuss putting the dog to sleep when the
time is right. In the next paragraph, she tells us about Beau and his current existence as an elderly dog
experiencing pain from arthritis, cataracts, and other ailments. From there, she segways into discussing
why she wishes to write about her dog who is about to pass away, and she explores what Beau was like as
a puppy. Afterwards, she turns back to discussing Beau in the present and reflecting on the fact that she is
beginning to age, too. She then discusses what she has learned from Beau. She ends by saying we should
all live life like Beau does. Beau focuses on enjoying life, no matter how old and achy he may be. We
should focus on enjoying our time here, too (2010).] Though the narrative order of the essay is
complicated, it is still probably the best organization. (2)[Quindlen wants us to see Beau as he is now and
as he once was, so switching from a past situation to the present situation is necessary. By doing so, she
shows us that, even if he is still not a puppy physically, he is a puppy mentally.] I may do something
similar in my own essay about my grandmother. She may not be as quick and strong as she was when I
was younger, but she’s still that same grandmother deep inside. (3)[Perhaps offering examples of her
strength in my youth and her frailty today could be an interesting plot organization.]
Quindlen, A. (2010). Quindlen: How an Old Dog Teaches Me Tricks About Life. The Daily Beast.
ENG 121: English Composition I
Comments (color and number coded):
1. The purpose of this journal is to incorporate summary as support. A summary is a basic retelling of a
plot line, emphasizing certain details that support your view or stance on the text. Return
2. Here the purpose of summarizing the whole plot of Quindlen’s essay is revealed. The student did not
want to focus on specific details, but wanted to show the overall organization and time line that Quindlen
presents to us. By using summary, the student is able to retell the entire essay in a few lines, focusing on
Quindlen’s organization of events, which highlights the overall purpose –to show that the aging dog is
still a puppy at heart. Return
3. The student finishes the journal by making a connection to how she will write her own personal essay
similar to how Quindlen’s organizes her essay.
Created in 2015
GUIDELINES FOR SUMMARIZING SOURCES
Another good skill to help you incorporate research into your writing is summarizing. Summarizing is to take larger selections of text and reduce them to their basic essentials: the gist, the key ideas, the main points that are worth noting and remembering. Think of a summary as the “general idea in brief form”; it’s the distillation, condensation, or reduction of a larger work into its primary notions and main ideas. As with directly quoting and paraphrasing, summarizing requires you to cite your sources properly to avoid “accidental” plagiarism. Moreover, a summary should not change the meaning of the original source. A good summary should be a shortened version that conveys the purpose and main points of the original source. Components of a Good Summary:
Write in the present tense.
Make sure to include the author, the year, and title of the work. o For example:
In Pixar’s 2003 movie, Finding Nemo… In Stephen King’s horror book The Shining (1977),… In Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death (1890),”
Be concise: a summary should not be equal in length to the original text; it should be about 1/10 as long.
Include 2–3 main points of the text or work.
Include the conclusion or the final findings of the work.
Avoid using quotations. A summary is not a paraphrase or a direct quote. If you must use the author’s key words or phrases, always enclose them in quotation marks and cite.
Don’t put your own opinions, ideas, or interpretations into the summary. The purpose of writing a summary is to accurately represent what the author wanted to say, not to provide a critique.
When Is a Summary Useful? You should summarize when…
you want to give an overview of a source’s main ideas/points;
you can express a source’s ideas or points in fewer words than the original text;
you need to give a brief synopsis of more than one source; or
you want an authority on the topic to support your ideas. Examples of Good and Bad Summaries Be careful when you summarize that you avoid stating your opinion or putting a particular bias on what you write. This point is important because the goal of a summary is to be as factual as possible. For example, here is an example of an inaccurate, opinion-laden summary about Pixar’s popular movie Finding Nemo:
So there’s a film where a man’s wife is brutally murdered by a serial killer and his son is left physically disabled. In a twist of events, the son is kidnaped and kept in a tank while his father
Created in 2015
chases the kidnapper thousands of miles with the help of a mentally challenged woman. Finding Nemo is quite the thriller.
This example is a bad summary because it is very vague, and it contains the writer’s opinion as well as twists the events of the story into something it is not. Pixar’s Finding Nemo is not a thriller or a horror story like described above—it is an animated children’s movie about fish. Here is a better summary of Finding Nemo:
Pixar’s Finding Nemo (2003) is a story about Marlin, a clownfish, who is overly cautious with his son, Nemo, who has a damaged fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver, and horrified Marlin must set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory, who has a really short memory, joins Marlin and together they encounter sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist’s fish tank where he is being held. In the end, Marlin and his son Nemo are reunited, and they both learn about trust and what it means to be a family. (Finding Nemo, 2003)
This paragraph is a better summary than the original one because:
it is accurate and factual;
it states the main characters and events of the story;
it gives the reader the crucial details without giving too many details; and
it tells the moral of the story/the conclusion without twisting the meaning. This summary is good because…
it states the author/director, the year, and the title of the work;
it is about 1/10 the length of the original passage;
it is clear and understandable to the reader;
it is void of any quotations or paraphrases, and it includes a parenthetical citation in correct APA format.