How to Make a Good First Impression

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Title: How to Make a Good First Impression
Creator: Flourish Klink
Date(s): 2001
Medium: online
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: How to Make a Good First Impression
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How to Make a Good First Impression is an essay by Flourish Klink.

It was posted to FictionAlley in 2001.

It was posted in the "Primer" section:
The Primer is a constantly changing, constantly updated resource for fanfiction writers. It includes suggestions on how to improve your writing, ways to connect with other writers, and even a short history of the Harry Potter fandom. We're always open to submissions of well-written essays or other content, as this section is "by the authors, for the authors."

The Essay

I can hear you now: "How to Make A Good Impression? Is she teaching some kind of self-esteem class or something?" But really, impressions are everything - at least in the fanfic world.

I can't tell you the number of times that I've discounted somebody's work because of a poor summary, misspelled words, or because their first story is a cliché. I've found that most of the time, people have very specific things they don't like to see, and they ignore any stories that hit the "squick zone." Therefore, I have compiled a list of things for the new author to check:

Write a serious story.

Don't try to break into the fandom with a silly list of "Things Harry Potter Would Never Say" or a MST; it never works. For your first story, try and put your best effort into it: if it's humorous, make sure it has a plot, and if it's angst-filled, make sure it's in character. Get an editor and make sure that you have all the kinks worked out; you'll be thankful when people start taking you seriously instead of thinking of you as "just another bad writer."

Find a good title.

If you have to make it another "Harry Potter and..." title, make sure it's intriguing; if you don't, please check to see how many other stories have your title! There must be at least 100 stories titled in Latin, for instance, so it's not an effective ploy to use. A good title is a great eye-catcher; don't let your story blend in!

Make the summary pop!

When writing a summary, keep in mind that this is the second thing a person reads about you - the first thing being the title of your story. If someone reads the summary, your title probably grabs them - so work with it! Make the summary intrigue them without giving away too much. Make sure that everything is spelled and punctuated correctly, following at least the most basic rules of grammar. Bad summaries are the #1 reason I pass over stories.

Psst! It's a secret!

Don't let on that it's your first story, if it is, or that it was a half-assed attempt, if it was. By now there are many new writers every day - people don't get "grabbed" like that any more. Besides, complaining that you're new or that you only spent a half hour on your work makes you seem like you aren't very confident in your skills - and if you aren't confident in yourself, who will be? Not your reader, that's for certain. When people write summaries and stories that say "Okey I'm NU NUNU so plz be nice, LOLz, it sux I spent JUST aa minnit on it :PP" I really, really don't want to read their story.