-> "If you can't write a decent summary, how the hell am I supposed to expect you to write a decent fanfic? Geez, at least if there's no summary at all, that way I can assume you're just ''lazy''."
--> --'''Anonymous'''

StockPhrase found far too often within the larger online fiction communities, {{fanfiction}} or otherwise.

To say that a summary is important to a work of fiction is an understatement. The summary is almost certainly the first thing your prospective reader will see; it is where they go to know what the story's about and to get some idea whether they will want to read it or not. You are essentially making a pitch for their time (and money, if you're writing professionally), so your summary is a vital way of letting them know that spending it on your work won't be a waste. So making the first thing that your reader sees a statement declaring that you are essentially no good at an essential part of writing is a bit like introducing yourself to a prospective partner at a blind-date by saying that you're terrible at introducing yourself and then proceeding to list all your worst features -- ill-advised.

Most online works described in this fashion, needless to say, [[SturgeonsLaw aren't very good.]] Furthermore, such stories usually [[DeadFic die long before they are completed]], due to the author giving up from lack of feedback... Neither is surprising: if the author lacks the skill and dedication to write a proper summary, why should the story itself fare any better?

Sometimes followed with "please read and review", although most fanfic readers take this phrase as an ominous warning and end up not even reading the fanfic, let alone giving any feedback. Sometimes, the phrase is substituted with "Summary sucks, story is much better" or something similar, but most readers will react in the same way as before.

This should be avoided since it tells readers that either the author doesn't have any self-confidence, or that the story is ''so boring'' that the author couldn't be even bothered to put in a real summary. Or, worse, that the author just plain sucks. After all, as the page-quote says, if the author can't even write a basic two-sentence summary then why should the reader have any confidence in their ability to create a longer narrative? It also shows a failure of ShowDontTell: don't use the summary to say the summary is rubbish - ''write a better one'' that actually summarises the entire story.

Some writers attempt to justify this when on websites like fanfiction.net where the summary limit is under 500 characters by saying they don't have enough space. This isn't much of an argument, since the whole purpose of a summary is to establish what the story is about in a concise manner without revealing too much; long summaries in fact defeat the whole point. Giving an eloquent summary of your story in a short space is actually a show of good writing. Besides, 500 characters isn't ''that'' short.[[note]]For demonstration purposes, when run through the word count function of Microsoft Word the previous paragraph clocks in at just over 500 characters when spaces are included. So you can still write a short paragraph with that amount of characters, or a couple of sentences at least.[[/note]]

All this being said, however, one should always remember that TropesAreNotBad. Sometimes condensing a full-length story into a few sentences can be quite difficult, especially where more complex plots are involved. LongRunners have a similar issue; when a fic is a couple hundred thousand words or more in length, ''something'' is bound to be lost in the compression, and it can be hard enough to decide what to mention and what to leave out[[note]]This said, it's worth remembering that the whole purpose of a summary, as mentioned above, is simply to provide a brief overview of the essential details or a tantalising reason for the reader to want to read the whole thing. The length or complexity of the story, therefore, can often be immaterial since you actually don't ''want'' to give away everything in a good summary; doing so can make your summary too long, and if the reader wanted to know absolutely everything that happened in the story, they'd simply read the story. The trick, as mentioned, is to decide what to keep in and what to leave out[[/note]]. It's also worth noting that writing a story and condensing it into an effective summary are not the same thing, and it is quite possible to be good at one and bad at the other. There are no universal indicators of quality or a lack thereof, and while sucking at summaries is ''usually'' a warning sign, it's worth remembering that it isn't necessarily ''always'' so.

----