I realised that there are many people who aren't all that great with summaries, not to say that I'm perfect with them either, so I figured perhaps it would be a good idea to offer a few ground rules that a couple of people agree on:
- Take away anything unnecessary (Author's Notes, Disclaimers, "This is my first story so please be nice!", "No flames!" etc.). A summary should be something that summarises your story, not how bad you are at summaries. Saying there's a better summary inside doesn't cut it either.
- Have correct grammar and spelling. Your summary is a person's first impression of your story, don't waste it by cutting out a sizeable chunk of potential readers with horrible spelling/grammar. Even if it's just a tiny typo, fix it as soon as possible as it leads people to believe that the rest of the story is like that.
- Think of what would hook you into reading the story... if you can't hook yourself, you're not hooking any others. Make it swift, captivating and don't give away every aspect of the plot.
- Don't bother listing every single pairing and whatnot. If you're going to list any of them, make sure it's either because it takes a while for the romance to pick up or because there are more than two main characters listed (as FF recently increased the limit from two to four).
- Tags (e.g. Dark!Gohan) are a fifty/fifty thing. While I generally think the better summaries avoid them by writing them into the summary, it does make it much easier for your story to be searched and found. That said, don't overdo it by listing a bunch of them. As for warnings, don't litter your summary with them and don't mark them with a large sign saying WARNING. If it's something really important, perhaps consider having it in the summary, but otherwise it's nothing that can't be included in an Author's Note somewhere along the line.
- Original Characters (OCs) and Mary Sues. If your story has an OC in it, unless they're a main character, I'd suggest not mentioning it in the summary. If you do choose to mention them however, don't paint them as being perfect in every single way (you shouldn't write them like this either) as it's probably the easiest way to get your story skipped. Proceed with caution when dealing with self-inserts too.
- Make it long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep it interesting. Essentially don't bore your readers to death with information that barely relates to the plot but at the same time, it should be long enough to captivate the readers. This ties into Number 3.
- Previews of the story (a line of dialogue or a short exchange between to characters etc.)... unless you've got something golden, avoid them. They're done fairly often but it's quite often that it doesn't work out, so if you're going to go for them make sure it's something that'll really grab people out of their seats.
- Avoid "can't think of a good summary" at all costs. Even if you're positively sure it's the worst summary ever written, it's better than having almost nothing there.
That said, if you have any tips that you think should be added/cut feel free to post below. Similarly, if you need help writing a summary, feel free to ask for a hand. 6/30/2013 . Edited 7/8/2013 #1