How to...

Write Summaries

So you've gone ahead and written the first, tentative chapter of a new story but before you can upload anything you're faced with the task of adding a title and summary.

A title may or may not be a problem. The only advice I can give here is not to leave it as 'untitled for now'. There just seems to be something terribly uninteresting about a story without a name.

The summary however, seems to pose more of a problem and is something that a lot of new writers struggle with.

On fanfiction(dot)net the summary is effectively the "cover" to your story, and although we're told not to judge a book by its cover, let's face it; the summary is terribly important. This is because unless you're currently experiencing an obsession with Tamora Pierce fanfiction and are reading every single story that is uploaded (I'm sure we have all been there…) the summary is something that we scan over and decide if we want to spend the next few seconds/minutes/hours of our life reading your fanfiction.

This is the advice I give (but I don't pretend to be an expert on this by any means):

Number 1

Assuming that you want your work to be read, never, ever, under any circumstances write 'I suck at summaries'! or 'Sorry if it's bad'!

This does not in anyway make your story appealing to the perusing reader, and in fact convinces them that their time would be better spent elsewhere.

Even if you think your summary is bad, please, please don't advertise this fact to the world!

Number 2

Spelling and grammar. If there is a summary that has absolutely no capital letters, punctuation and abysmal spelling, then it is very likely that the story within will contain the same deficit of grammar and spelling. This is very off-putting for a potential reader.

"kel goes to a secrte land and saves the king from deeth she falls in love with cleon how will she react when dom anounces his luv for her"

Is an example of a poor quality summary.

Number 3

Text language and abbreviations.

Please don't use words such as 'cos', 'cuz', 'u', 'thnx' & 'luv'.

Whilst appropriate on texts or IM conversations, you need to convince readers that you can write in proper English.

However there are some abbreviations that are fine. These include popular pairings written as 'DN' for Daine/Numair, or 'AU' meaning alternative-universe.

These help to give readers and idea of the content of your story without using up too many characters of your summary!

Number 4

Don't try to entice readers in by saying 'Please, please give this a try, it's my first fanfic.'

This is a common thing to do and really it just wastes space. Use your summary to advertise your story. Then, if you want to, write an author's note in the actual chapter explaining that it is your first attempt at writing and you would like some constructive criticism.

Summaries are tricky things to write, especially given that you have only a few lines to do it in. But if you follow the advice above then you should be able to come up with a passable one.

Some suggestions if you're struggling:

-Why not ask a friend/beta to read it and see which bits they like?

-Write something, even if you think it's terrible and come back to it an hour later. Often your mind will be clearer and you can adjust the summary accordingly.

Most importantly, don't stress about a summary, it can always (easily) be altered if the plot changes, or if you're not happy with it.

I hope that you find this useful :D (And I also hope that lots of 'I suck at summaries' start disappearing –SPREAD THE WORD PEOPLE!)

Happy New Year to you all,

Confusedknight xx