Monday, August 2, 2010

Writing summaries

I got the chance to go to a panel about writing a few days ago and learned several new things I never knew.  Since the summary of stories was mentioned, I thought I would mention it and give you some quick advice.
Your summary is important!
Whether you're a member of IP or no, you should know by now that the summary of your story is very important.  It's the first thing everyone views and it could very well be what determines whether the person reads your story or not.  If your summary doesn't sound interesting or isn't written correctly, you could lose a reader.
When it comes to writing the summary...
First you should write out a draft.  You can write it in Word or you could just simply write on paper.  Put down everything you think is essential for the reader to know before they actually read the story.  What I find helps the most is thinking of that summary as the summary that will be on the back of your book if it was published.  Your summary should be interesting and brief.
Grammar is essential here.  If your grammar and your spelling is all wrong, someone may skip over the story entirely because it did not seem like a story that you put a lot of effort and time into.  Let's admit it, if you can't even spell correctly in the summary, who's to say you will in the actual story?  Most writers at the panel said that they will not read stories where the summaries are not written properly.  When you write with bad grammar and spell, it is like you do not even want anyone to read your work.  Take your time writing the summary.  I'm not saying you have to spend hours on it, but it definitely is something you want to work on and make look nice.
Determine what's interesting and what's unimportant. The great thing about summaries is that you can be as mysterious as you like.  You don't have to explain why something has or has not happened yet and you don't have to give descriptions of characters.  You can put in whatever you want and then leave it to the readers to find out the answers.  Your summary should be interesting.  It should have a lot of ideas put together so that when your readers starts reading the story they come back for more because they are so curious and so involved.  Probably the best thing to do is end with a boom.  Make your readers want to know what's going to happen next.
The reviews you can leave to your readers. I have seen some writers on the Internet with summaries where they tell how their story is one of a kind and something you want to "read now".  It's okay if you say in the summary, "Read ______________ to find out what happens." But remember that you don't necessarily need that.  It's probably better to leave that out and just have the readers decide for themselves if it's worth reading more.  Everyone knows that you yourself are going to be bias towards your own work.
And you have your summary.
That's about all that you have to do.  Make sure that you are neat and you write like a professional would.  There are a lot of other stories out there, especially if you're a member of a popular writing site such as IP, so you have to make sure that your story stands out from the all of the other stories.
For now that's all I have to say on summaries.  Feel free to comment with your own additional advice, thoughts, and/or questions.

1 Comment:

Lydia Kang said...

Great thoughts, and thanks for sharing!

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