Basic Guide: Writing a Short Story Summary

Writing a short story summary may seem difficult. But, with a few basic steps, you can put together a concise statement that conveys the plot of a story.

Student success in reading and writing can be greatly aided by teaching and practicing the art of summarizing. Deconstructing a short narrative into its parts calls for in-depth reading, planning, and explanation.

This article shows specific steps to take to write a short story summary to help students develop their skills and strengthen their comprehension. Let’s get started!

black flat screen tv turned on at the living room
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

What Is a Summary?

A summary condenses the main points of a lengthy text. A short story summary tells the story’s important events without going into depth about the characters or setting. 

The summary of a short story is sometimes called a hook, news report, or teaser. It is an essential component of a literature prompt. This is because it highlights crucial details, suggests reader interest, and emphasizes the story’s main idea. 

Students who use short story summaries to develop their skills in summarizing will succeed in other forms of writing.

Steps to Writing a Short Story Summary

In this section, we’ll go over three steps of writing a short story summary. These steps include creating an outline, writing the summary, and revising the finished work. If you’re ready to learn how to write a short story summary, read on!

1. Create a Visual Map

An excellent summary begins with a thorough reading of the entire story. After you’ve read the story through once, mark the parts that stand out to you as the most crucial. 

Creating a visual map or web that identifies the most crucial moments and their relationships might also be helpful. Your summary should incorporate these points.

2. Writing the Summary

The title and author of the original work are often the first elements of a formal summary. What, when, where, why, and how are all addressed in summary. 

Describe the events that build up to the story’s climax and how they relate to its core theme. In summary, it is best not to provide your thoughts on the story.

 Don’t add anything else, just the details that are already there in the story. The requirements of the individual task determine the length of the summary and the level of detail it contains.

3. Revise the Story

As with any form of writing, some conventions must be adhered to when creating a proper summary. Present tense verbs, such as “goes” and “look,” are more common in outlines than past tense verbs, such as “went” and “looked.”

 Summaries are not the place to quote from the source material. Explain the events to your reader using your own words instead. 

As a general rule of thumb, a summary shouldn’t be longer than half the length of the original text. If your summary has to be shorter, remove any information that isn’t essential to the story’s gist.


Writing a short story summary entails capturing the snapshot of a story and summing up its essence in a few paragraphs. 

All you need are your notes, a visual representation of the content, and a muse to help you write your summary. Always remember writing the summary is different from writing the story.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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