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How-to Tuesday

Impactful Endings, Part 2: A Simple Summary

Every week, we update our current how-to series entitled, “Impactful Endings: How to end your story with a bang!” This series will be about experimenting with different story endings to ensure your conclusion is satisfying to you and leaves an impact on your readers. Our second post is about successfully writing and editing a summary conclusion.

A Simple Summary

Easily one of the simplest ways to end a story is with a summary. A summary is, well, a summary of all that took place in the story you just told. The best way to begin writing your summary is by briefly skimming over your story. Get a good grasp of the basic plot and the major events that took place.

One of the things you should avoid when writing a summary is saying so much that you are practically telling your story all over again. Be careful not to simply repeat everything you just said; instead you should go through and pick out the most important parts of your story that are vital to the plot.

Here are some basic steps to writing your summary:

  1. Restate overall purpose of the story. Think about using this general template: “The Little Red Riding Hood is a story about a little girl who gets lost in the woods.”
  2. Answer the five questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  3. Once you have answered these questions, begin forming a basic paragraph that addresses each of these points. Consider writing one sentence to answer each question.
  4. Write a final statement saying what the author (you) wanted to get across, such as a message, moral, or argument.
  5. After writing your summary, read it once more, and then read your story from start to finish. See if you hit all the major points of your story, and if not, go back to step one and make sure you’ve followed all the steps!

Note that the summary ending is geared towards those who have a beginner’s grasp on the writing process. Once writers become more advanced, they are encouraged to experiment with more complex endings.

When writing any type of conclusion, especially a summary, you should think about answering the question: “So what?” Why did you decide to write this story, and what does it matter to the reader?

And there you have it—a simple conclusion to wrap up any and all loose ends of your story. Before deciding that your story is complete, it might be a good idea to have a friend or parent read over it and, if they are willing, they can come up with their own summary before reading yours. It might be interesting to see what your readers think are the most important plot points compared to your own.

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