|Falling to Fly
Summaries are the first thing a reader sees when looking through the archives or on a person's author page. If it's a good summary that grabs their attention, they'll most likely read at least the beginning to see if they like it. If the summary isn't as quality, it's more likely the reader will skip over it. When you're writing something, you want to draw in people from the get go, instead of waiting and hoping that people take a chance and read what you've got to share. Here are some do's and don'ts of creating a summary.
1. Do use something to draw readers in. Whether it be a quote or a vague idea of what the story is about, use something to make readers wonder what you're writing about and want to read more. Don't be bland. Remember, you want to get people excited about your fic before they even read the first chapter, and an interesting or exciting summary is a great way to do that.
2. Ask questions that will leave the reader wanting answers. This one is a tricky one, because some questions really pull a reader in, but there are still some that will turn a reader off. If you're going to pose a question, make it original, not something everyone has heard before.
3. Another tricky one is putting an excerpt from your fic as part of the summary. You have to be careful about which moment you choose, because just as in using questions, if you choose the wrong one you risk losing readers. If you aren't sure, ask someone that you know will give you a completely honest opinion.
4. Depending on what archive you're in, you may or may not want to put things in the summary that people can look at and know right away what will be in it. Ex: Limp!James, Sick!Carlos, Guilty!Logan, Protective!Kendall, etc. Some people might not like it, but others might appreciate it if they're looking for a certain type of fic and the genre search just isn't enough.
5. If you're summary is longer than FF allows it to be, don't worry! Come up with something short that will suffice to grab the readers attention and then put the full summary inside. It can simply be a sentence with the words, "Full summary inside," after it, but again, make sure you make that one sentence interesting.
1. Make sure you don't have any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors in a summary. You could be one of the worst authors the world has ever seen or the next J.K. Rowling, but if you have these kind of errors in the summary, which is the easiest things in a fic to make correct, many readers will skip over it and unfortunately assume that whatever is inside is just as incorrect as what's on the outside, whether it is or not.
2. Don't say things like, "The summary sucks but this is really good, trust me!" Whether or not it really is good, most readers will not trust you on that. In their minds, if you can't make up a good, short summary, the fic probably won't be in good condition to read either.
3. Don't use summaries that have been used before, or that are similar to other summaries out there. People want to see new things, not the same topic used over and over. Summaries like, "Gustavo's niece/daughter comes into town and all the boys fall in love with her, who will win her heart?" or "The forgotten fifth member of the band returns and all the boys fight for her affection, which will she choose?" and summaries such as that get old to see, so make sure you aren't using something that's been used before.
4. Don't summarize your whole fic in the summary. That might sound strange, but if you summarize it looks boring, and there isn't much surprise when someone reads it. Instead of saying something like, "The boys get into a car crash and have to go to the hospital," use something that grabs the readers attention, without giving too much away.
5. Try not to put disclaimers in your summary. That's not as much of a major concern, but the point of a summary is not to tell everyone that you don't own the characters or the show. Disclaimers are certainly necessary, but put them somewhere where it doesn't jump out at people, like at the beginning of a chapter in an Author's Note or on your author page. That way, they can still be found if they need to be, but they don't bother anyone and take away from the summary.
As you can see, the ways to not write a summary are a lot clearer than ways to write a summary. It really just depends on a person's personal opinion, and in the end that should be the only one that matters. Just keep in mind what people are drawn to, because the summary is essentially one of the most important parts of a fic, and you want to make it as good as you can.6/19/2011 #1
6. Summaries are hard to write, even for the most talented and experienced writers. Take your time and don't rush it; good summaries usually don't pop out of thin air.
6. Never use internet/text speech. Yes, it may give you extra room to write, but it is terribly off putting to a reader. One must remember that this site caters to all ages and by using this type of language limits your readers even more.
Things That You May Need to Put In:
1. Warnings like abuse, non-con, rape, etc... should be put in the summary. If you can't fit it, that's fine, but remember to clearly list out the warnings in an author's note at the beginning. Subject matter can be triggering, so by being able to clearly state what people should watch out for in the fic is very helpful and beneficial to the reader.
2. Otherwise, you can add things like AU, Oneshot, Slash, etc... to give the reader an extra insight into the story without using extra space to explain.6/19/2011 #2
7. Don't put in things like 'R&R please!' You're just wasting your character limit. Think about it, when have you ever looked at a summary and thought, "Oh, this doesn't look that good... WAIT! They told me to please read and review! Certainly I shall do this!" Just make a summary and be done with it.
8. Do not, under any circumstances, say "don't like, don't read", "if you don't like it get out", or anything like this. It makes you come across as an immature child who can't accept people disliking something that they wrote.
9. Some people say that their character is a Mary-Sue in the summary. For obvious reasons, this is not something you want to do if you wish to gain readers.1/12/2013 #3
Warn people about mature content. At the very least put "Mature content". Some people look for it, y'know.
Don't say you suck at summaries. Whether it's regarding the summary you have, or the summary you failed to write, why should I believe you can write a story if you can't summarise it?
In fact, don't say anything bad about your story at all in your summary. I know you don't want to brag (SOME of you) but seriously, there's 50,000 other stories on FF.net. Why should we read yours? BECAUSE IT SHITS JESUSES, that's why. Just put aside your doubt and be supremely confident. It'll rub off on your reader2/3/2014 #4
I'm new to fanfic.net and I'm not sure if I should post a question here....? But should I warn for things like "mention of suicide"? I've seen some people do it.2/15/2014 #5
@UnaMariah1999: It's a good thing to mention since it can be triggering to some people, however I'd put it in an authors note at the beginning of the story rather than in the summary. Unless it plays a major part of the story, in which case putting it in the summary is totally reasonable.2/16/2014 #6
Thanks for this awesome advice!
I shall certainly use it when I am writing a fanfic.
Amen. I'll take this all to heart, thank you very much. Great advice, by the way. c:10/20/2014 #8
Would it be wrong to give a heads up on how long each installment would be. For example I have mention in my author's notes that each chapter would be somewhere between 3-6000 words.3/30/2015 #9
No, that's perfectly fine. It's good to let people know what they can expect.3/30/2015 #10
I think that is when people say "this is not a Mary-Sue fic" or "my OC is not a Mary-Sue" that put off the readers, because of reverse psychology. But when people actually say "there is a Mary-Sue inside" makes reader wonder what the story is up to.12/24/2015 #11
That would be very wise if you do. Some readers may have a soft spot for that, but who still wants to read the story without problems. If people do write stories about suicide, then I recommend to not write it to much. It could sometimes ruin the story. ~DancingWillowGoddess5/14/2016 #12
That would be very wise if you do. Some readers may have a soft spot for that, but who still wants to read the story without problems. If people do write stories about suicide, then I recommend to not write it to much. It could sometimes ruin the story. ~DancingWillowGoddess5/14/2016 #13
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