Précis Writing—Writing Forms 10th Grade American Literature Mr. Zacharia
A précis (pronounced pray-see) is a summary that insists on an exact reproduction of the logic, organization and emphasis of the original text. It reflects the relative order and relationships of the original parts of the text. An effective précis retains the logic, development, and argument of the original in a much shorter form. There is no single perfect précis of any article, simply versions that fulfill various functions. The writer’s job is to become skilled in accurate summary and in highlighting aspects key to his or her purposes. Steps for writing a précis Read and reread the article for knowledge and comprehension. Select the most important points contained in the article. Underline or highlight those points. Place ideas into sentences and arrange sentences into one unit. Rules for writing a précis 1. Your version should be approximately one-third the size of the original article. 2. Follow the same organizational pattern of the original article. 3. Use the author’s voice as if you were telling the story. For example, do not write, “The author said that ….” 4. DO NOT USE ANY OF THE AUTHOR’S WORDS; you must paraphrase, not plagiarize. 5. Concentrate on being accurate; you must say only what the author says and you may not use any details the author did not include. 6. Do not draw conclusions or express an opinion if the author does not. For example, there would be no place for the following: “This was a really interesting article and I really enjoyed reading it!” 7. Try to avoid choppy, short sentences. When you revise and edit, join sentences with transitions: although, after, before, when, since, etc.
Précis Writing—Writing Forms 10th Grade American Literature Mr. Zacharia Houdini's German Slander Trial While touring Europe in 1901, Harry Houdini was surprised by a newspaper article entitled, 'The unmasking of Houdini,' published in The Rheinische Zeitung by a German policeman, Werner Graff. The article stated that Houdini could not escape from manacles or open locks and accomplished all of his demonstrations via phony means. The article accused Houdini of bribing people for duplicate lock keys, cutting manacles with a saw and replacing it with a duplicate and numerous other deceptions. Houdini decided to directly confront Graff by suing him in court. The trial began February 19, 1902 in Cologne, Germany. The Great Houdini first demonstrated to the entire court that he could open a lock brought by Graff without the use of a key. Houdini then had court personnel chain his arms tightly with two secure locks. Houdini then went to a corner and demonstrated privately for the judge his ability to escape the chains and locks without a key. The judge then ruled that Houdini had won the case! At a party after the trial, Houdini gave the locks he used as a gift to the court bailiff. The bailiff, Hendrick Dieter had become Houdini's friend during the trial and had brought along locks for Houdini to use in his demonstration. Houdini felt that his own locks (which have several unique characteristics) were better suited and gave them to Dieter afterwards as thanks for his help and friendship. Graff twice appealed the decision in court, but also lost both subsequent cases. Houdini produced posters declaring to the world his victory in the matter.