Too often when we sit down and try to submit a fan fiction we forget one of the most important parts: the summary. The summary is your one chance to grab the attention of a potential reader and give them a glimpse of what’s in store if they’d only come and look.

So how does one go about writing a summary? The trick is to give the basic plot and theme of your story without giving too much information away. After all, you do not want the readers to wander off, having read only your summary and knowing the full content of your plot. At the same time, you do not want them scratching their heads, wondering what in the world “a day in the life of Luna” means.

The following are some key things to keep in mind when writing this all-important net for readers:

  1. Do not use quotes from your story as a summary. Sometimes adding them to the summary is appropriate, but providing only an excerpt isn’t sufficient.
  2. Use correct grammar and spelling. Remember that the summary is a reflection of your story. “Hermyionie,” for example, does not bode well.
  3. Do not allow your summary to go over 300 words. This is a glimpse of your story, not the whole first chapter, and if it’s too lengthy readers won’t waste their time deciphering it.
  4. Be sure to make mention of pairings or further warnings. The reader will want to know what they’re getting into before being buried up to their neck in a fiction.
  5. Do not over-format the summary. Symbols, bolds, and italicized words are all okay when used sparingly. Large letters, colors, and other text-transforming edits are annoying. Also, remember to leave the banners on your author's page. They don't belong in the summary.
  6. Use clear, down-to-earth language to describe your plot and characters. Lofty language drives readers away.
  7. Do not beg or threaten for reviews. It’s rude at worst and bothersome and annoying at best.

That said, allow me to give an example of a bad summary:

There’s a new girl in Hogwarts an her name is Mystiana. She is part house elf and part wizard. She falls in love with Harry but Ron likes her to. When she is caught kissing Draco, it’s all over. Next chapter: Mystiana flirts with Snape and he is happy for once in his life!

Here is an example of a better summary:

There’s a mysterious new student at Hogwarts who has a shared experience with Harry. As the two become friends, Harry learns of a little-known fact that could change the course of his life, not to mention hers. Harry/OC.

Keep these points in mind when you go to write your summary. Be sure to spend some time on it, as your story won’t matter if your summary doesn’t draw in readers. Ask you beta reader for advice, or talk it over with a trusted friend. But remember, there isn’t a set formula— just a few guidelines. Just let the creativity from your story shine in your summary as well.

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