Steps to a Story: Summarizing

Sometimes in a story, a lot happens when the main character isn’t present.  In With Honor, the entire story is from Matthew’s point of view.  That means that for us to learn anything about what has happened, Matthew has to learn about.  The easiest way to do that is through a summary. 

Before I add a summary, I always look at the story.  Is the information important?  Some skips in a story’s action don’t miss anything pertinent, so alluding to the time interval or location change is all that I need to do.  If it’s important enough that the reader needs to see the action, I may have to switch point of view for a section to let us get the information first hand. 

However, if the information is important enough that we need it, but not so key that we need to see it first hand, I can use a summary.  There are a couple of ways to add one with the correct context of the story.  Usually, an account by another character (in the form of a conversation or even a letter) is the best way to go.  It’s also possible to have the characters reference what happened without a direct account, depending on the amount of information.  Gossip can be good for this.  “Did you hear…?”

I try to avoid a narrator-type summary (which briefly takes the reader out of the storyline) in a short story.  I’ve used this a couple of times in my novel, but the format and context allowed it without ruining the flow.

Wondering which one I used for With Honor?  Check out the next section, posting tomorrow.  🙂

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