ENG111 Essay#1: “Literary Summary” Writing Guidelines Fall 2013
Length: no fewer than 2 full pages, excluding the required works cited page
Literary Summary Essay Overview:
For this assignment, you will write a multi-paragraph essay (of five paragraphs or more) discussing what the main point or message you think is being conveyed by the author in one of the following short stories:
Mary Robison’s short story “Yours” (handout)
John Updike’s short story “A & P” (Fiction text)
Albert Camus’ short story “The Guest” (handout)
Flannery O’Connor’s “Parker’s Back” (Fiction text)
After choosing one of the above listed works, write a summary of the short story in order to support what message the author is trying to convey. The purpose of this assignment is to learn how to summarize a piece of literature according to standard methods. This is the first step in interpreting literature for more complicated essays (such as Analysis), so I want you to isolate important information and present it in such a way that the writer’s overall purpose and main point remain abundantly clear. I also want you to practice paraphrasing the author’s words into your own, as well as pulling out pieces of text and quoting it. As you summarize, paraphrase, and directly quote, practice using parenthetical citations as presented in our handbook.
How to Proceed:
Carefully choose and re-read the story that “speaks to you” most. Then, isolate the main points with the main support and/or the main events with the conflicts. Begin by listing the more significant aspects and look for overall trends. Then see if you can’t create a thesis that embodies the larger idea you think the author is trying to convey. Once you establish a thesis that delineates the author’s point, elaborate on it; don’t just present a thesis without developing it into a well-developed introduction. The body of your paper will then be support to prove what you set up in your introduction and thesis. For the support, you will need to practice paraphrasing and quoting from the text so that the reader knows exactly what you mean and where you got it. Remember to be precise and do not take it for granted that the reader will understand everything you present. In other words, go overboard to explain the connections you are making.
General Essay Writing Requirements:
You will need to create a clear, interesting, specific thesis that will be outlined in your introduction. Your paper should introduce your topic and the text (including its author); present your thesis; present a plan of development for the points you will cover; include textual evidence that is summarized, paraphrased, and/or directly quoted that corresponds with the required Works Cited page; and be properly proofread and corrected for grammar, sentence structure, and spelling.
Purpose and Audience:
Your purpose is to summarize the main points (as well as supporting points) to prove what you think the author’s message is in the story. Ideally, your target audience will be your classmates and professor, so you will need to write for an educated audience who has read the work and use academic-level diction.
Literary Summary Essay Organization:
A summary essay should be organized so that others can understand the source or evaluate your comprehension of it. The following format works well:
a. The introduction (one paragraph):
1. Introduces the text to be summarized:
(i) Gives the title & genre of the text following the MLA conventions;
(ii) Provides the full name of the author of the text;
(ii) Sometimes also provides pertinent background information about the author or about the text to be summarized. (iii) Is organized in General to Particular order.
2. Contains a one-sentence thesis