16. Summaries – Do you like them or hate them? How do you come up with them, if you use them?
Ah, summaries. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I hate them because it's difficult to write a good summary and it seems to be a lot of work just to end up with thirty words. How do you put together words that make your work sound interesting without giving away the whole point?
On the other hand, I love summaries as a reader because, well, they can tell you a lot about a fic without having to open them up and look at them. For example:
- Does the author have a good grasp of grammar? (Omg spelling errors in a summary is a deal-breaker right there.)
- A good summary tells me that the author took the trouble to really think about the work and try to tell me about it.
- Some summaries show you how the work feels. A funny summary of a funny work is the best.
The summary is what makes me decide to open the fic or not, and because, like all humans, I think that other people feel the same way as I do, I try to take some time to write a good summary so that other people can make their judgments on my fics.
I don't really feel I'm very good at writing summaries, mostly because I'm very matter-of-fact about it (I don't know how to pique interest), and because I'm afraid of giving too much away. For example, my summary for Mistaken Identity is
"Doctor Who/Harry Potter crossover: The Tenth Doctor and Donna fly through a crack in the walls of the universe and land in a world where humans can perform magic. Getting mixed up in the cold war between the Death Eaters, the Ministry of Magic, and the Order of the Phoenix, all sides want the Doctor dead!"
It really doesn't tell you much. The "all sides want the Doctor dead" part was added to give a taste of excitement to the summary, but it's a bit misleading. Without it, though, it's really not very exciting. I also felt it was important to shy away from the fact that Harry does not appear in fic, because I think a majority of readers would pass over a Harry Potter fic with no Harry Potter. How to make it enticing? I really don't know. I also just noticed that there's a grammar error in the summary, so I guess I wouldn't read this fic either. ;)