How to make summaries exciting

When you read most chapters of a book, usually you’re witnessing a scene of some sort, where the characters are committed to an action. For this book, The Girl With All the Gifts, that is exactly true. Primarily scenes. Minimal summary. But, there’s a third type of chapters: reflection.

I think the biggest part came from supplementary character POV, for example Soldier Parks.

See? Parks is no fool. He knows what’s being done here, and he’s served that purpose silently and uncomplainingly. He’s served it for the best part of four years now.

Rotation was meant to happen after eighteen months. (Carey 73)

That isn’t to say that this paragraph isn’t also a summary. But, this whole chapter is also a reflection of his inner thoughts, and even if it’s a summary, there’s enough confusion, conflict that his own thinking lends itself to the tone of a scene. There’s also explanation for everything, like what’s going on and why. Why this setting? Why’s it so important?

The answers to these sorts of questions help grip the reader because these are the sort of the questions that the reader is looking to answer.

I also like how the chapter overviews Parks life so far, how he got wrapped up in this school to where he’s in discussion on how he got in some trouble with some junkers. This is a good way to do the history of the story, using someone else’s perspective. It gives the reader someone to identify with so that even though it was a heavy summary chapter, it reads very quickly.

The takeaway would be by lending perspective and emotion from your characters, you can give an otherwise long, tedious summary conflict and sympathy that makes for easy reading for people.

Carey, M.R. The Girl With All the Gifts. New York, NY: Orbit, 2014. Print.


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