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How To Make a Summary of a Story

Imagine having to read an entire novel with more than 500 pages. You might need lots of time on your hands and patience to get through to the final chapter and understand the message the author was trying to convey. A summary would come in handy to help you grasp the key concepts quickly without having to read the entire book, cover to cover.

Summaries are also common in academia; students must make short notes or demonstrate to their professors they have understood the subject matter. In this article, we will reveal some tips to help you write good summaries of a story and discuss tools to make the process easier.

write story summary

How To Summarize a Story

In this section we will define a summary and some key steps and tips to help you write the best summary.

What Is a Summary?

Perhaps you have been in a situation where you gave a brief overview of a book or a show to someone who has never heard of it before. Even if you didn't know it then, you gave your listener a summary. In a nutshell, a summary is a shortened version of a larger article or piece of work done by someone else.

The summary you gave your listener "saved" them from having to watch the entire movie or read the book and get the gist of what the author intended to portray. You also omitted all the unnecessary details from your summary, relaying only what they needed to know.

summarize a short story

While giving an oral summary is a walk in the park, putting it down in writing is not as straightforward. You have to follow some key steps to ensure your summary is exquisite.

Here is a quick guide on how to write a summary of a story in English.

steps to write story summary

Step 1 Take your time to read the story and understand the main theme the author is trying to communicate. It wouldn't be a great idea to skip reading the excerpt and rely on the numerous summaries online. These summaries might not always be accurate and might cause you to miss out on key points. Ensure you avoid any distractions, such as music or the TV, that could interfere with your reading.

Step 2 Keep a pen and paper nearby to jot down some notes as you read. If you are unsure what to write, you can use the 5Ws and 1H to guide you. They include who, what, where, when, why, and how. Once you are ready to begin summarizing, the notes you take during this step will be a big help.

Step 3 Figure out who the main characters are in the story you are reading. Ensure you focus on the ones that are important to the main theme and narrative and discard the ones that feel like supporting characters. However, it would still be a great idea to take note of every new character that pops up because they have a purpose.

Step 4 Another crucial step in writing a summary is understanding the setting in which the story takes place. In a simple story, the setting might be limited to one or two places, making it easier for you. However, another story might take place in numerous settings. In that case, you could mention the broad geographical area and only specific parts where important events occur.

Step 5 Almost every story has a conflict, which is the main problem the characters face and need to overcome. Perhaps an evil villain wants to steal from the villagers, or a witch who loves casting spells and ruining other people's lives. It would also help to take note of the events that accelerate the conflict or help other characters solve it.

Step 6 Ensure you note how the author concludes the story. For instance, the villagers could gang up on the villain, restrain him, and have him arrested. Any event after the story is irrelevant to your summary, even though it adds some spice.

Step 7 The last step is to write the summary, considering the points discussed above. Ensure you organize all your notes and read through some summaries to understand how yours should look. Once you are done, revise your summary to ensure there are no spelling and grammar errors and that you got all the names of places and characters correct.

Now that you are well-versed in writing a summary, here are a few tips to help you write a story summary.

Highlight the Main Idea

The main aim of your summary is to inform your readers of the important points they need to know. Therefore, it would help to ensure you are familiar with the main theme and use your words to convey it appropriately. If you have difficulty organizing, you could take down a few notes as you read.

Avoid Bias

If you want to give your opinion about an original text, you are better off writing a review. When writing a summary, it would be wise to steer clear of writing with judgment and stick to creating a shortened original version.

Highlight the Main Idea

Your readers will not stick to the end of your summary if you make it as long as the original text. Therefore, ensuring your summary is short and straight to the point would be wise. Ensure you steer clear of repetitive sentences that make your paragraphs redundant.

Ensure Your Summary Flows

The last pro tip when writing a summary would be to use transition words to make your content flow and help you introduce new concepts and characters seamlessly. Transitions also help you build momentum and connect your sentences without distracting your audience.

Easiest Way to Summarize a Story: Using PDFelement Tool

While the traditional way of writing a summary is full-proof, we cannot dispute how time-consuming the process might be. Suppose you have to summarize a novel with 500 pages within a short time. You will have to read and re-read the text, jot down some notes, organize them, and then start writing your summary. Technology is truly a heaven-sent tool that has revolutionized how we write summaries.

how to summarize a story

Developers have created AI tools that can help you write a summary of a story in English within minutes. Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor is an excellent example of a platform with an AI story summarizer tool to shorten any text you want. You can use this platform in two ways, as described below.

The first method you could use to summarize text on Wondershare PDFelement is through the "Let's Chat" feature. If the story you want to summarize is well-known, like Harry Porter, you can ask the AI robot directly to write the summary. You only need to indicate the text's title, and the robot will take care of the rest. Here is a quick guide on how to write a summary of a story.

Step 1. Launch the platform and select "Open PDF."

Step 2 Select "Let’s Chat” in the pop-up menu and paste the text you want to summarize.

summary of a story example

Step 3 Once the text is summarized, copy the shortened version to another file or use it to replace the original.

summary of a story

The second method of summarizing text with Wondershare PDFelement is through the Summarize feature. This method is ideal if the text you want to summarize is not renowned. Use this guide to help you use the Lumi AI robot to write a summary of a story

Step 1 Launch the platform, and on the bottom-right corner, click on the "Lumi PDF AI robot".

Step 2 Wait for a pop-up menu to appear and select "Summarize".

summary of a story

Step 3 Upload the text you want to summarize from your internal storage to the Summarize window.

Step 4 Select “Analysis” to initiate the process.

Step 5 View the summarized text in the Response box and copy and paste it to a blank document to make changes as you see fit.

summary of a story


In this section, we will answer frequently asked questions about summarizing texts.

1. What Is the Best Way to Summarize a Story?

The best and easiest way to summarize a story would be to use Wondershare PDFelement. This platform contains an AI robot that takes the tedium out of traditional summarizing, leaving you with a polished, shortened version of the original within minutes.

2. Is There an App That Can Summarize?

Wondershare PDFelement has an online platform you can use to summarize your work. You can also use the desktop version available for desktop and mobile. Another excellent example of an online tool you can use to summarize a text is HiPDF. It is fast, convenient, and lets you work in the cloud without downloading software.


By the end of this article, you should be better positioned to write a good summary using the traditional method. However, if you are running out of time or would like to handle other crucial tasks, you could leverage technology and use the tools and platforms discussed above. Once the AI robot is done summarizing your text, proofread it to ensure the text flows seamlessly before you save your work.

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