Disclaimer: I don't own any publicly recognizable characters, places, etc. No copyright infringement intended.
(A/N I just updated it because I just remembered one more "Don't"
The summary of a story is VERY important. It gives the reader a chance to get a "preview" of the story and lets them decide whether or not they would like to read it. Personally, I absolutely HATE having to go through pages of stories to finally find one that has a decent summary. I wanted to post this because I have read two "stories" that have changed my writing. That would be "untitled" by your vannela, which tells you exactly how to NOT write a fanfic, and "15 Things Not To Do In Twilight Fanfiction" by Just A Little Bit Dramatic, of which the title says all.
Here are the do's of summaries:
Do tell us the pairing, if there is one. Personally, I am Team Edward, but that isn't my point, and I hate reading a fanfic that is really good, but ends up giving me a JxB ending. No offense to those on Team Jacob. Those on Team Jacob should know that they are badly outnumbered, and those that write JxB should know that many ExB fans will be mad at the outcome. If you post a warning on the pairing, you will more likely attract people who will appreciate the plot and you will get people complaining about the pairing.
Do warn us of the following:
Crack fics- Crack fics are stories in which the characters are very ooc, and it may be entertaining to some, but could be offensive. The characters normally do outrageous things in crack fics.
Slash fics- Are wrong and disturbing! That is my opinion. But slash fics are where a writer pairs together two people of the same gender and writes some very… interesting material. I have read some slash fics without warnings, hoping to get a good story, but ended up being completely disturbed.
Do warn us about AU's and OOC. After reading Boycott's and BarFlies (great, funny story by vjgm) I changed my mind about AU stories and some are actually just as amazing as normal universe ones. Sometimes, I feel like an AU story and I just look. Most authors will post AU at the beginning making it extremely easy to find one, but some people don't like AU's and the "AU" at the beginning lets us easily skip over them.
For OOC's, I'd like to make a comment first. WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU MAKE SOMEONE OUT OF CHARACTER FOR A FANFICTION!? Fanfictions is supposed to dedicate you appreciation of an author's book/movie/anything else. Why would you change a character's character? In my opinion, that is disrespectful to the author. Most fans love and are in love with the characters because of their personality and charm. Why take that away. If you are going to change a character, you are essentially taking away from that character and creating a new character. If you want to have someone be a stupid jock, then create a new story. If you want Edward to be emo (what is wrong with you) then go write your own story and post is somewhere else. The only time OOC is acceptable is when you are writing a crack fic which I don't find amusing at all. But I dismiss it because I feel that because you have warned us with crack fic (you better have) you have a right to make the characters crazy. I don't approve of it, but I allow it.
Do write a decent summary. Create some drama and suspense with your summary grab your reader's attention. Instead of saying Well, Victoria came back and like, kidnapped Bella. Edward gets mad. So what will happen? You could write What if Victoria came back and kidnapped Bella? How will Edward cope? Will there love help them last? Or will Victoria use it against them? The second one creates much more drama and suspense. Also, avoid text speak
Do warn about lemons. Some people could be offended by it. I will not discuss what a lemon is because of the rating of this article.
Do warn of crossovers. I have stumbled upon one too many HaryPotterxTwilight crossovers to count. In the end, people end up making someone a witch and that person goes off to Hogwarts. I'm sorry if you want it to be a surprise twist, but really, no one wants that surprise. Especially if they do not like the other story you are"crossing over" with.
Here are the don't's of summaries:
Don't write "First Fanfic" or "please don't flame, first fan fic." Frankly, we don't care. Personally, I don't care if it is your first fanfic, or you 100th fanfic, if you are a good writer, we will review. If you are bad, people will flame. But you must be able to accept the fact of a flame. Don't reply to them saying You know what, you suck or something like that. That shows you can't take the fact that not everyone will like your writing. Back on to the subject of "First Fanfic." Again, WE DON"T CARE. I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but that is the truth. Also, and reviewer worth having will not care. So I think you get my point about how PEOPLE DON'T CARE.
(Updated) Don't write "summary sucks" or "I suck at summaries." In the words of your vannela, "we just assume you suck at writing too." It repels readers, it doesn't attract them.
Don't write, "10 reviews for the next chapter" or "I post for every 10 reviews." IF a person reviews, it shows they have taken the time to read you story and have something to comment about. If someone really likes your story, but there are only a few reviews and you have the next chapter done, you shouldn't deprive the people of it. It is mean. Also, most of the time, people don't follow through. If your story is good, it will naturally get reviews.
Don't use text speak, bad speeling, or improper grammar. It shows you aren't a good writer. Simple as that. No one expects you to be perfect, but try to avoid it.
I hope you have learned something from this article. If you find it helpful, please advertise. I'm trying to help make fanfiction better for everyone. I want to be able to logon and within a couple stories, find at least one with decent summary.
PS. Better summary gets you more readers, which gets you more review, and reviews are love!