Writing Summaries for Dummies

I, as well as many other authors, have had trouble writing summaries for stories and especially poetry. Here I am, to share what little expertise I have on the subject.

1. Before you write your summary...

You must have a good idea of what you want to happen in your story in the long run. If this means writing multiple parts of the story before putting it onto the website, then so be it. Not only must you know what you are going to do in your story, but you must have a catchy title.

Although this is a little off topic, a title says a lot about your work. If the title is "lame" or "cliché" then don't use it. Some clichéd titles are okay, because occasionally it draws the reader in. Also, make sure the title fits your work—do not, I repeat, do not title a work until you have at least one chapter done, or have an extremely good idea what is going to happen.

2. Getting a Good Idea...

Now that you have at least one part of your story done, and have a nice title you should make a note of the major happenings. What is the plot? Who is your main character? What makes your main character so special? You can choose to write this down, or just make a mental note.

If it is a poem then what is the poem based on? Why did you write the poem? What feelings did you have while writing it?

3. Examples...

The Good- "Chloe is a normal teenage girl, or so she thinks. Read and review please. Mentions of rape and sex." From one of my stories, it draws the readers in with something about the story, it doesn't say that the story is bad.

The Bad- "I was bored, it was the end of the day...RR, I'm bad at summaries!" From a poem I wrote awhile ago. Everybody's mind goes blank at some point. It says a little about how the poem came into place, but it says "I am bad at summaries!" which is something unacceptable.

The Ugly- "I suck at summaries... RR" An example pulled out of thin air, says nothing about the poem or story whatsoever. Personally, I skim right over stories and sometimes even poems if they have a summary like this.

If you have any examples of a Good summary, Bad summary or even an Ugly summary then refer them to me and I will put them up.

4. Summaries for Poetry...

Quite possibly the hardest thing to summarize is poetry. How do you make a summary of something that is already very short? It's not as difficult as it seems, although it is still very hard to do. Majority of all summaries that are ugly, or even bad, are for poetry. Poems generally convey a mood. Whether it be a dreary mood or a happy mood, it is important. It is an important part of a summary because your audience has to want to read that type of poem. If the poem is depressing and your summary is upbeat, then you are getting the wrong audience. Taking a line straight from the poem is a very useful technique.

5. Summaries for Stories...

This is relatively easy. You can either state something about the plot or a main character. Another thing a writer can do, which is the same commonly used technique for poetry, is to take out a line from the work. If you don't know what to write for a summary then think of movie previews—they generally have one line that everybody remembers, sometimes it is straight out of the movie, whereas sometimes it isn't.

6. How do Ratings Play In?

If the work is rated R or even PG-13, there must be a reason. If it is rated high for sex, rape, swearing, violence, or whatever it may be—state it! Some people don't like that sort of thing, whereas some people do. Do everybody a favor, and just say what it is that causes parents not to want their small children to read it.

7. What not to do...

Besides stating that you don't know how to write a summary, there are a few no-no's. Do not say that your story is horrible—rather say that it is not one of your best. Do not say that it is awesome—leave that up to the readers. Another thing, please do not use short-hand. No "lol" "jk" "rofl" or any of that, except rr which is disputable.

8. Be Careful...

Be aware of the evil grammar bunnies. The English language is a tricky one, make sure you aren't breaking any of the big grammar rules or the grammar bunnies will eat you alive, and I'm not kidding. Spelling is another thing to be careful about. If your summary is "A story of a gurl who lieks cheeze" then most likely people won't want to read it, because it shows that your work will have simple spelling errors. Use spell-check and make your English teacher proud. For those of you who didn't catch the errors, gurl should be girl, lieks should be likes and cheeze should be cheese.

Now that you know how to write a good summary (well a better summary, hopefully) do it! Hopefully now, poor helpless readers won't be bombarded with "I don't noe how to right a gud sumarie." I am sorry if this has offended anybody because I certainly did not mean to. I am not saying that I write great summaries or even good ones all of the time.

When you write your next summary please think of me and this essay.