How to Write a Summary of a Book - Steps and Structuring

How to Write a Summary of a Book


How to Write a Summary of a Book

Learning how to write a summary of a book needs practice and patience. You have to capture the whole story in fewer words and do it in your own words while addressing the main idea.  

We have written over 21 featured book summaries (and are still going strong) while helping students nail their assignments. So, you have met the right experts if you want to grasp the art of writing a good summary.

Here, we will show you everything from what the summarization involves to what you must do in every step.

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What is a Book Summary?

A book summary highlights a book's main idea to give readers a quick understanding of what it entails. It is written to give readers a comprehensive understanding of what the book entails. Many people also refer to it as a book synopsis, but the latter is shorter and serves more as a sales pitch.

We Can Help You Write Book Summaries

Do you know you can turn to us if you need an expert to help you write a fantastic summary? Tell us about the book, and let us deal with your worries. We guarantee first-class services as our experts have advanced degrees and are massively experienced.

If you doubt what we can do, check the book summaries we have shared at the bottom. They will give you a glimpse of what our gurus are made of when writing that brief overview.

Why Should You Learn How to Write a Book Summary?

Are you wondering why your instructors occasionally give you book summary homework? Here are five reasons why writing summaries is part of your coursework.

Why you should learn book summary

1. Complete a School Objective

Several courses involve writing summaries as part of learning. You must read and summarize some books before getting that final certificate. So, if it's part of your course, be prepared to polish your writing skills.

2. Improve Summarizing Skills

Another reason why you should learn to write book summaries is to improve your summarization skills. Your instructor gives you only a few sentences per book summary assignment because they want to hammer the summarizing technique in you.

Practice makes perfect. They know that when you practice writing book summaries, you will have no problem summarizing information while out there. So, a book summarizing assignment helps you later when working on other projects and in the future.

3. Solidify What You Have Learned

Taking notes of what you read leads to more long-term memory retention than just reading without taking notes. Teachers and schools know this, so they give you summary assignments to solidify what you read.

Since you know you must write a book summary, you'll pay attention to everything from the main character to the key concepts. Writing summaries later after taking notes will cement the memories in your brain.

4. Bolster Your Writing Abilities

Consistent writing will enhance your writing skills. So, any writing assignment, be it a summary, will assist you in meeting this objective. In addition, reading tons of information from books will expand your knowledge; hence, you become better at organizing your thoughts.

Consistent practice will help you spot key information and memorize it. After that, writing the information in your own words allows you to work on and improve your speed. Getting better at summarizing books takes more than talent. That also applies to any other form of writing.

So, there is more to gain when you learn to comprehend and express complex concepts in books.

5. Speed up the Evaluation of Ideas in the Future

The summaries you write will quickly assist you in reviewing content about the book in the future. You will not need to start reading the book afresh. Since you have retained the main points in your brain, writing a summary without too much detail will be easier.

This is also a skill that will be essential when you are summarizing other large pieces of content later in life. Reviewing the text, getting the important details, and presenting the key idea to your audience will become easy.


How to Write a Book Summary

Now, you know why you should practice writing a book summary. Next, here is a step-by-step guide to creating a well-crafted summary of the book you are reading.

How to Write a Book Summary

1. Carefully Read the Entire Book

If you are going to summarize a book, you need to read it meticulously. You should not skim it as you will miss the most important details and points. Take your time to ensure you understand every book section and the main idea.

Reading the book for the first time is crucial to a well-written summary. As you read, ensure that you try to capture the important ideas, the main characters, and the plot development.

Those will be among the key elements in the book summary.

2. Take Enough Notes

Ensure that you take sufficient notes while reading the book. It may seem like a waste of time, but it is not. It will assist you in writing the summary effectively. You can't remember everything, so the notes will come in handy. At this step, remember using transition words helps you connect between ideas.

This is where you start noting all the characters and other important events. Getting all the essential information in a notebook or note-taking app will assist when you need a quick reference as you work on your first draft later.

Although there are many strategies for taking notes, the best is doing it in a dedicated notebook. Some important notes you need to take are those of the important characters and essential plot points made in each chapter.

Utilizing note-taking apps like Evernote (among others) assists in accessing your thoughts collection using your device. Such apps (depending on the features) can also capture the pages you would like to use later in your summary.

What Should You Note Down About the Characters?

  • Character names
  • Their key personality traits
  • Their impact on the storyline

What Should You Note Down About Each Chapter?

If your book is non-fiction, mention the following details when making notes for the chapter summaries.

  • Book chapter title or number
  • Key ideas and their supporting evidence
  • Intriguing analogies, statistics, and facts

If the book is fiction, describe the following details when jogging down notes for each chapter.

  • Book chapter title and number
  • Characters and the new insights that they develop
  • Settings
  • Key events

3. Determine the Main Ideas

Before creating your summary outline, you must know the book's main characters and ideas.

You must understand the central themes for each chapter of non-fiction books. For fiction, the major plot points usually follow a similar direction, as you will see below, so the themes in this type of book will not change much. Practically all plots of fiction books consist of the following 5 sections:

  • Exposition: Also known as the introduction or beginning. The background, characters, and setting are unraveled in this section.
  • Rising action: Conflicts start to arise, mainly due to the development of complex events. You get two kinds of conflict in books. They include external and internal conflict.
  • Climax: This is when a twist or decisive moment occurs. Most of the time, it is a conflict, which readers wonder if it will be resolved.
  • Falling action: This phase is marked by the planning and the beginning of a resolution.
  • Resolution: This is also referred to as a conclusion. It portrays the story's outcome.

4. Create a Book Summary Outline

Now that you know the book's main plot twists and ideas and have notes with you, it's time to create an outline.

There are two general structures for formatting a book summary. These structures are explained in detail in the following subsection. Choose one of the structures, then fill in the essential points to discuss in each section using the notes you created.

If you don't know how to approach this part, take your time to learn how to write an outstanding essay outline first. It will assist you when determining what to include in the book summary.

5. Draft the Summary

The other step is to fill out the outline of the summary writing. This includes the introduction, essential character traits (and their impact on the storyline), major plot points, conclusion, and other crucial sections. Use the notes you created in step 2 to fill these sections with enough detail.
As you do so, please refer to the next section on structuring a book summary.

6. Proofread the Draft

The final action is to go through the draft and eliminate all the errors and other unnecessary details. Some of the mistakes that students make as they write include:

  • Grammatical errors
  • Punctuation errors
  • Flow and clarity issues

How Do You Structure a Book Summary?

We have already seen how to write a book summary. Now, let's look at how to structure the summarized story. This is the part that steps 4 and 5 will utilize. There are numerous ways to structure it, depending on your school's or instructor's guidelines.

Nonetheless, there are two ways that experts recommend more than the other structuring styles. Below are the two popular ways to structure a book summary.

Book Summary Structure 1

  • Introduction
  • Overview
  • Characters
  • Body
  • Conclusion

Book Summary Structure 2

  • Characters
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

Below, we will discuss key details of what to include in each section. Let our experts know if you need help structuring and writing the summary; they will take care of the rest.

What Should You Include in the Introduction of a Book Summary?

Your introduction should have background information, key characters, and a brief book overview.

  • Background information: You talk about the book title and author here.
  • Overview: In this part, you describe the main plot, theme, and main ideas or arguments highlighted in the book. This section can still be on its own, not necessarily under the introduction. One or two paragraphs are enough for this section.

What Should the Body Section of a Book Summary Contain?

The body section should have several subsections, depending on the book and the instructions provided. Some key points and subsections that are almost available in all excellent summaries are:

  • Setting: Here, you describe the era in which the book was written and the location of the plot.
  • Plot: In the plot, you highlight the developments in the book. In other words, highlight the major events that shape the plot’s direction. Make sure to touch on the intriguing aspects and/or twists.
  • Themes: It is also essential to have a theme subsection to show the central themes in the book. You should particularly explain how themes advance and the insights they provide.

Other common ones, though not widespread and as crucial as the three above, are listed below.

  • Cultural context: In this part, you must explain the community and its beliefs, values, and customs.
  • Style: Here, you can evaluate the author's writing style, such as figurative techniques, tone, and language. Overall, it's any strategy the author uses to establish an image, mood, and meaning in the text.

You can add these two sections if they are significant in the book or your summary. Students use this strategy to make an essay longer and hit the required word count.

What Should You Include in the Conclusion of a Book Summary?

How you should end a book summary depends on the type of book. Is it nonfiction or fiction?

For non-fiction, you restate the key ideas in the story or entire book. If it's fictitious, explain the resolution that happened and the most critical lesson learned.

How to Write a Summary of a Book

Book Summary Examples

If you want an example of a complete book summary, we have several of them here. Click on any of the links below to see how to write summaries of different book categories.

Fiction Books Summaries

Poetry Books Summaries

Play Books Summaries

The Difference Between a Book Summary, Book Review, Blurb, And Elevator Pitch

What is the difference between a book summary, book review, book blurb, and book elevator pitch?

  • Book summary: This is a shortened version of a book and comprises the key ideas, characters, and plot, among others. Sometimes, people also refer to it as a synopsis. When writing a book summary, you should never include your personal opinion.
  • Book review: This is a text with heavy literary criticism about the book. Criticism involves using technical information to analyze the book's author, themes, and writing style. Knowing how to write a book review also involves presenting your personal opinion.
  • Book blurb: You will mostly find the blurb on the book's back page, which is used to gain the attention of potential readers. It includes a very shallow plot that does not give away too much information and some teasers.
  • Book elevator pitch: A book elevator pitch is a super-short text that persuades people to buy a book. It is usually a sentence long, with a maximum of 26 words. An author primarily communicates their sales pitch at the end of a live interview. Authors also use this sentence when pitching to agents or editors.

4 Key Guidelines for Writing an Amazing Book Summary

If you are wondering about the do's and don'ts of writing a book summary, the list below will place you on the right path. Read the list below for the vital guidelines for writing an excellent book summary.

  • Distinguish central ideas from minor ones: You will come across many ideas in a book. Because your summary needs to be concise, one of your essential purposes when writing is to find and explain the main ideas.
  • Ensure a good flow: Use transitions to connect different ideas, mainly when discussing the plot.
  • Make notes frequently: Note everything necessary, as it will be helpful when writing the summary. Make notes after you have read a few pages or immediately so as not to forget some details.
  • Avoid personal opinions: A book summary wants you to condense the work without offering any opinions. So, don't say what you believe, think, or feel.

Tip: If you need the guidance of a professional, you can contact us for affordable literature homework help. We can craft a fantastic book summary, book review, film review book chapter one, poem analysis, or any other literature-related assignment you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the six steps of writing a book summary?

  1. Carefully read the entire book
  2. Take enough notes
  3. Determine the main ideas
  4. Create a book summary outline
  5. Draft the summary
  6. Proofread the draft

2. How long should a book summary be?

A short book summary ranges between 100-250 words. Lengthy book summaries, however, can range from 500 to 1000 words. There is contradicting advice about the length of a book summary. The summary should be less than 10-15% of the book's length.

3. What is an example of a good book summary?

A good summary of a book contains all the important points about the book. It has an introduction of the main characters and a brief plot overview. It should also have the central themes, the main ideas, the setting, and the atmosphere.

4. How do you start a summary of a book?

You start writing a book summary with an introductory sentence that highlights the book title, followed by the author's name and the genre or type of the book. Next, outline the main theme or the purpose, settings, and the main characters.

On A Final Note

Knowing how to write a summary of a book is a great way to express how you understand a given book. The points above are for you, whether you do it before the next book club meeting or completing a school assignment.

We believe you have everything you need to conquer any book summary, from reasons why you should learn how to write book summaries to key guidelines at the bottom. Go through it, and you will be a step away from becoming a book summarizing master.

If it's still challenging to write, we have book summary gurus here ready to share their expertise at an affordable rate.

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How to Write a Summary of a Book - Homeworkmarket

author Melaine

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Melanie is a seasoned writer with more than 8 years of experience. She is passionate about academia and works off the clock to ensure she write the topnotch content for her readers.

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