Main I Suck At Summaries Discussion

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03:57:18 PM May 31st 2011
Thank you. Someone other than me finally noticed that this phrase is thrown around in fan fiction too often and is counterproductive for the writer.
09:24:37 PM Dec 24th 2012
Can't argue too much. The biggest problem I have when writing summaries is making them fit in the space allotted. You can't go too small either, or it won't stand out. But, if I can spend hours coming up with a story and writing 2000 words a chapter, I can take some time to condense my concept into 250 characters.
08:55:20 PM Feb 10th 2014
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I find it somewhat more difficult to describe my stories in the space allotted if they're relatively complex ideas.

The summary for Perfection Is Overrated "As the Hime Carnival escalates, new arrivals- known as the SUEs- threaten to upset the balance of power and alter the world the Himes live in. Will their strange powers be too much for the Himes to overcome, or will their overconfidence in their perceived superiority be their undoing? A look at what happens when Mary Sues are on a level playing field with everyone else."

By contrast, "Some Things Talking Can't Fix", a Saki one-shot I wrote about Saki's last encounter with her sister. "As Saki's last-ditch attempt to reach out to her sister fails, she realizes that this problem cannot be solved with words alone."

Ultimately, my solution to stories of the former type- a relatively complex idea- is to do my best and not make excuses.
09:54:35 AM Mar 8th 2014
I think it should be added that if the story just has a really strange concept, writing a summary for it can be hard. After all, the idea might not be bad, but the summary may suck because the author just might not be able to properly describe it without it sounding stupid.
11:47:12 AM Apr 25th 2014
edited by
In all fairness, most of the 90% probably don't know what a summary is supposed to be for:

A summary is supposed to carry the essence of a story, i.e., represent the "hook". This can be done in one of two ways:
  1. Declaring the story's High Concept. (Should be mandatory for every Transplanted Character Fic)
  2. An Armor Piercing Quote, whether In-Context or not. (Though, when not, the story should be building up to seeming like it does.)

In shipping fics, it's good form to include the focus ship(s) but these should be in addition to the above, not in lieu of.

Also, sometimes High or Moderate Concepts just sound weird. It is permissible to bolster interest by saying "It Makes Sense in Context", (28 characters including spaces and a period,) but then you have to deliver.

Note that a summary that follows these rules is not indicative of quality (e.g. the aforementioned Transplanted Character Fics) but a fic without one likely won't be read.

Unfortunately, just like with titles, several Fan Fics evolve over the course of their writing such that early summaries are no longer indicative. In the case where summaries can be changed, this is not a problem: just change the summary when it's no longer relevant. Where they can't be changed, however, this means that you should have outlined your entire plot in advance and probably written out the story in full as well, with only trusted betas having prior exposure.
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