First Part: Abbreviating Plot Summary (Task #3: Abbreviate)

The first part of The FAVORS Step-by-Step Process: Abbreviating Plot Summary, Quotes, and Analysis involves removing plot summary.

Step #1: In order to determine what needs more detail, or what needs revision in terms of grammar or quality, or even what you need to remove completely, you must examine the types of sentences you have. Analyze them carefully.

    1. Quotes: How many quotes do you have in this body paragraph?
    2. Analysis: How many sentences represent analysis?
    3. Plot Summary: What is the total number of plot summary sentences?

Step #2: Address the plot summary. From the sentences that represent a summary of the story, determine which ones are necessary to support your topic sentence.

Step #3: Determine if the rest of the summary is necessary to support your topic sentence.

Step #4: If the rest of the plot summary is unnecessary, then abbreviate. To abbreviate means to shorten a word or shorten a piece of text by cutting sections or paraphrasing it.

Remove those sentences that will not sufficiently support your topic sentence. Although it is painful to remove something that you have worked hard on and have developed a relationship with, remember that you are removing parts of the body paragraph that are not serving the function necessary to your paper, which is to support the topic sentence. The body paragraph evidence supports the topic sentence; the topic sentence supports the thesis.

Just because you know how to construct a detailed plot summary and incorporate it with much skill doesn’t mean that portions of the summary or the summary itself are necessary. Get in the habit of becoming skilled at editing and revising to ensure effectiveness. Just remember that you are ensuring that each body paragraph aids in keeping the reader’s attention.

Sometimes incorporating the wrong plot summary can contradict your thesis. Even more so, sometimes incorporating the wrong quote can affect how the reader understands your points.  Consider the following example below from the student essay. Immediately following the excerpt is a step-by-step process to analyzing the excerpt.

Figure 79: Abbreviating Quotes Exercise (Sample Student Passage)

Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where. There is an anxiousness in Elisa. Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221). Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden. She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil.  She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed. She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice. “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221). It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa. It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders. Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers. No one could get close or converse with Elisa. At the sound of his voice is when she can start. Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity. Henry never included her in any of his business. She was best seen and not heard.

The step by step process is accessible via the following link.

Click here for “Second Part: Abbreviating Quotes (Task #3: Abbreviate).”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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