Anatomy of a Summary (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 4)

Remember that literary plot we used to learn about all the time in elementary school? You know, we’d read a book in class and then we’d have to do some sort of project or essay about it. It often included summarizing what you read.

Well, apparently that’s more useful than we ever imagined. Who knew that we’d actually be using something we learned in school later on in life?

Anatomy of a Summary: NaNoWriMo 2016 prep

There are five parts of a novel:

1. Exposition
2. Rising action
3. Climax
4. Falling action
5. Resolution

Normally, we would summarize our novels after we’ve written them. That would make the most sense. But, if you’re a planner, this is a decent start.

Even if you’re a pantser, this is something good to have before or after you write your novel. It’s the bare minimum of details and it goes a long way when summarizing your novel.

What is the exposition?

The exposition is the beginning of the novel. Introduce the novel including the main characters, setting, and conflict.

What is the rising action?

The rising action is your protagonist attempting to solve the problem at hand. In most cases, they fail the first time or so.

What is the climax?

The climax is the turning point of the story. It’s the most suspenseful, it makes or breaks whatever your protagonist is going through.

What is the falling action?

Just like the rising action, the falling action is actions that happen after the climax. The rising action and falling action just help us get from point A to point B.

What is the resolution?

The resolution of the story is the conclusion. The problems are solved, everyone lives happily ever after… Or rocks fall and everyone dies. Do with that what you will.

As I stated earlier, this is something that you would typically do after your novel is complete. However, if you’re trying to outline and get a feel for what you want to happen, I think this is a great starting point.

If you’re a pantser, try this out anyway. You may have more information figured out than you realize. And that can help drive you from one point to the other when you start writing.

I remember I hated writing summaries when I was in school. I understand this literary plot to a point, but in the end it was always homework to me. Now that I’m older and I’m using it for my own creative writing, I’ve realized how helpful (and easy) it is.

How do you typically summarize your novels?

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