Why no summaries?

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Title: Why no summaries?
Creator: nYcHen and many commenters
Date(s): April 21, 1998
Medium: USENET post
Fandom: emphasis on The X-Files
Topic:
External Links: Why no summaries? (scroll up a bit); archive link
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Why no summaries? is a post by nYcHen at alt.tv.x-files.creative.

There is much discussion in the comments.

Some Topics Discussed

  • summaries on fanfic: desired, required, despised...?
  • discussion of warnings and labels
  • what the writer owes the reader
  • arrogance
  • a BNF writer appears to speak for all writers: "Nobody has to shout huzzah or engage in slurpy sycophancy, mind, I'm just asking that you let us write without attempting to dictate how and why."
  • another BNF writer says be grateful: "Remember, this writing is delivered for free, some of it is as good or better than books you pay for, *and* it's about your favorite TV characters and show. As far as I can see, there's not much more to ask for."

The Post

how come there are alot of fanfics without summaries nowadays? you know, with tons of them posted daily, it'd be nice to have some sort of organization... so please, fanfic writers, please have summaries for your fanfic! i do mine!

Excerpts from the Comments

[ CiCi Lean ]: Ah, here we go agiiin. <g>

There are lots of reasons why authors don't put summaries on their fics, and I think many of them are good ones.

1. It's very difficult to write a summary without giving away your plot. In fact, some stories are simply impossible to summarize coherently at all and it's just better to skip it, IMHO.

2. If your story is under 10K, I can't see the point in having a summary that can possibly be half the length of the story itself. It's silly. It'll take longer to read the stupid summary than the fic.

3. Categories and ratings give you an *excellent* idea what the story is about. Throw in those awful "warnings" and "Keywords" and what on earth do you need a summary for? For example:

Category: MSR Rating: NC-17 Warning: Character Rape Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance, Rape

I don't think I need a summary to tell me what this one will be about. I have all I need to know to skip right over it. <eg>

4. Some authors don't like the fact that a story they work on painfully for endless hours of torture, will or won't be read by the content of two measly sentences. It's unfair (and counterproductive) to make an author sweat more about their summary than the fic itelf.

5. And finally, some authors are just against it. Like me. I don't like writing summaries, I don't think they're a necessary part of my fiction, so I just skip them. And if no one reads my work because I don't have a summary, hey, my loss. (Well, it's *their* loss actually, but I don't want to sound like TOO much of an egomaniac. <heh, heh>)

You know, a good summary is no guarantee of good writing and most summaries I read are inaccurate anyway, so how hard is it to give a story a shot from the first couple of paragraphs?

Because, IMHO, I'd much rather read a well-written MSR than a poorly written slash story, no matter how much I dislike the former and love the latter.

And the only thing that will tell me if a piece is well-written is the writing itself, not the summary.

Just my $.02.

CiCi

PS: Oh, and the download time argument doesn't work for atxc. To get to the summary, you have to open up the entire fic anyway. Gossamer, well, that might be another story.
[ bliss ]: <Applause> Thank you, CiCi. Frankly, I'm so tired of this argument. If you don't want to read a story without summaries, don't read it. If you want to invest one paragraph or two worth of reading time, by all means, but don't tell me what I have to include in my stories. Do you really think that the writers on the bookshelves write all those dust jacket summaries? I very much doubt it.

I don't want to sound like any more of a grouch than I already do, but I really get peeved when people demand summaries and categories anyway. Ratings are more than fair. But as far as the rest, they're just jam and jelly on top of the bread, as far as I'm concerned.

If you want to put summaries on your fanfic, please do. I don't object to anyone's personal taste in such things, but I will not give way to someone else's demand that I do likewise.
[Dreamer]: God bless Cici and X-Anarchy. I almost didn't post something because I didn't want to put the keyword on it that one of my readers thought it should have. No! I'm not going to tell you what happens in every paragraph of the story. And, my summary could have been figured out in the first scene anyway, so it didn't help y'all a bit. Think about it. I'll give you another sample: (SPOILERS -- obviously) Title: Darkness Falls Summary: While investigating a series of disappearances in the woods of the pacific northwest, Scully and Mulder discover an ancient species of insect which attacks at night when there is no light and is capable of cocooning an entire human being? Will they get out alive when the power goes off? or Title: Redux II Summary: Mulder's in danger, Scully's death is close at hand, only the re-insertion of the chip, the death of Blevins and a bit of faith will save them both. UGH! You get the picture. Can you imagine if Carter did that to us? No summaries is fine with me. It ruins the ending (as improbable as it might be, see above) Now, back to our regularly scheduled fanfic.
[Admarem]: Erm, ahem, ahem...I assume that, had you not posted for that rather irritating reason, said "reader" would simply have posted *for* you, so there. :-)

But seriously, though, you're right. Speaking from experience -- I tried to make my summary humorous without actually summarizing, and one of MY readers told me it would look bad on Gossamer. I wasted her, natch.

~Admarem, taking issue with "one of my readers." Humph. Clearly she meant well. Humph.
[ Jill Selby ]: I've always posted summaries with the stories I've written, chiefly because I rely on them so heavily as a reader. With limited reading time, I have to use the tools available to me to select stories. When I go to Gossamer and am faced with a long list of new stories, an intriguing summary goes a long way toward drawing me to a story (as does a memorable title -- but that's a discussion for another day), especially if I don't recognize the author's name. I know, I know, I'm probably missing out on a lot of great stories, but I simply don't have time to download and read the first few paragraphs of every story.

What authors sometimes forget, or maybe the term "summary" confuses them, is that the story summary should be nothing more than reader bait. Think of it as an advertisement rather than a synopsis. It should tease readers in much the same way as the "Next week on the X-Files" segments at the end of the show. Rarely do those little flashes tell us much about the plot -- they only give us enough of a hint to make us anxious to see what will happen.

One of my many peculiar quirks as a writer is that I absolutely must have the title and summary nailed before I develop the outline and write the story. I doubt I share that particular weirdness with anyone else, but for some reason, I need that touchstone while I'm writing.

However, just because I like summaries doesn't mean I think everyone should be forced to use them. There are plenty of rules in this world, and I don't think we need to add any more.
[CiCi Lean]: Ah, but is this what the readers want, or do they want to know pretty much what happens in a story to make their download decisions?

Because a *teaser* *bait* or *advertisement* is usually vague and misleading by its very nature, and not at all useful to make a true "downloading decision." epecially if a very specific -type- of story (regardless of writing quality) is what the reader is looking for. Example:

Teaser: "The shocking tale of Mulder, Scully & an XFile, the likes of which you've never read before!" or

Summary: "Mulder & Scully investigate Mr. Softee and His Cone of Death."

If a reader is interested in writing quality (even if they prefer a certain kind of story) well, then, downloading is inevitable and the category and ratings should be enough to steer them in the direction of genres they enjoy and away from things they absolutely will not read.

For me, as an author, what it really comes down to is that I'm just uncomfortable that a single, mandatory sentence will be what "baits" my reader. I want my writing to bait my reader and have them enjoy -that- enough to trust me, and let the story take them where it will.

And if the writing's not enough, well, that means I have to work on something more important.

The writing of my fiction, not the writing of a summary.

CiCi (who is just doin' some friendly debating here, boys & girls, so keep yer hats on! <g>)
[Dreamer]: That is my problem right there. I can't right summaries, hell, I have a hard time with titles! I'll tease you, or give you a TV-guide bit, but that's not even gonna touch on what's going on in my fic. And I've read stories (okay, I'll give names, "Sages") that I might have skipped over immediately had I gone solely by the term "killer brownies" in the summary. I've discovered that I must give it more of a chance then the summary (which, I am realizing, sounds more and more like book reports I was forced to write in third grade. Title, Author, Main characters, Summary, themes, conclusion or resolution -- Ugh!) Again, debate, debate, debate, but it's just my opinion. Dreamer
[Jill Selby]: I'm willing to bet I'm not the only reader out there who puts some stock in the summary. I do know I'll choose a story with a well-written "tease" over one with a clunky, too-much-information summary or no summary at all.

[snipped]

Maybe that's where the system fails me, because I rarely even look at genre or ratings. I'll read most anything if it looks interesting, but the things that get my attention are the title, the author, and the summary.
[Shari]: No, you're not the only one! If a story has no summary, I don't read it unless it's recommended to me by someone I trust. I don't have time to read part of every story with a catchy title. And I don't need a summary that tells me everything about the story either... just something to pique my interest. I don't think that's too much to ask, really. I never look at ratings, and will read any genre but slash and most crossovers. That leaves an awful lot of stories out there for me to wade through. A summary coupled with a great title goes a long way toward pulling me into a story.
[ Kipler ]: And that's why this insistence on summaries worries me! A reader can't know what a story is about until she reads it. And the summary has little to do with the quality.

I'm really kind of apathetic about the issue - but I'm enough of an anarchist to stop putting summaries on my stuff specifically to ensure that I'm attracting a wide variety of readers, rather than a group of people looking specifically for one type of a story or another.

Read my first paragraphs. Download or not, depending on the writing. That's the test of the story.

--Kipler, who admits to writing a silly and deliberately misleading summary on "Sages," but can imagine a story involving a psychopathic group of young girlscouts...
[ Debra Fran Baker ]: I'm going slightly batty over this point right now. As soon as my latest (as opposed to my current) story gets out of beta, I'll be posting it. It's one of my normal "cheery" little pieces, which means I'm going to have to post warnings. I have no idea how to post a warning adequate to this story without serious spoilers or reducing the impact. A summary would be even harder. I find them almost impossible unless I have a real plot other than the relationship (current story - the long one I'm still writing - has a real X-files plot, so I can at least give a TV Guide blurb.) Maybe I'll ask my beta reader for ideas.
[Ford Luxem]: I like summaries for one major reason. It helps me decide whether a story is worth me investing my time in reading or not. Before anyone goes off on the issue of wanting their story to be read on it's own merits, I have a comment. How many people go to the library, take ten books off the shelf in random order, bring them home, then read the first few paragraphs of each to determine if they want to read the rest of the book? Not a whole lot of people I'd bet. Most people glance at the summary on the inside flap as a determining factor. I don't find my enjoyment of the story ruined by the blurb on the inside cover, rather it heightens my anticipation. It draws me in. It gives me something to relate to besides the title. And if it's the fifth story I picked up that week about bug monsters fighting humans for planetary domination I have the option of shelving it and coming back later when I'm not so insect jaded.

If some authors resent being 'forced' to summarize their work, I equally resent an attempt to manipulate by lack of summary. And I hear the rumbles of "Forget him. He doesn't know what he's missing." Exactly. I don't know. How could I, you didn't provide me any incentive.

We live in a fast food society, that goes for our reading material also. I want what I want and I want it now. If you aren't providing it I'll skip down to someone who is. If I have time I may come back to the unsummarized. Maybe. Without some info to go on a lot of people are at loath to take the risk. If I had the time I'd love to read every story posted to the newsgroup and Gossamer. Unfortunately, reality keeps poking it's ugly nose into my fantasy world.

I see the summary as the prelude to the first two paragraphs. Or a date set up by well meaning friends. The summary gets you an introduction, but after that, you're on your own...

I like summaries. Well done ones. Maybe a crash course on *how* to write a good summary is in order, for those interested. I'd certainly attend.

For those who don't like summaries and won't use them.....I can live with that. I agree to disagree. Meanwhile I'm going to hang out and wait for the discussion on titles.
[Kipler]: An author's choice to include a summary or not has very little to do with manipulation and very much to do with honoring what the author believes to be the heart of the work. If I choose not to write a summary, it is not an attempt to force you to read my stuff. It's an honest admission that the "plot" doesn't cover the "theme." In fact, it's when I *do* write a summary that I feel manipulative. A summary might lure in folks who'd be disappointed to find a largely philosophical story posted under the guise of a MOTW. It also might discourage folks who would love the story if they'd give it a chance, but who "never read" MOTWs. Either way, the summary doesn't honor the readers or the story.
[ Nascent ]: I know, I know, I'm

> probably missing out on a lot of great stories, but I simply don't have time to download and read the first few paragraphs of every story. Right. This is the biggest reason I see summaries as important. In atxc, I will probably read the first few paragraphs, but at Gossamer, it's just too much trouble. In a very real way, writers (especially new ones) have to advertise just like a TV show might, if they want to get readers.>

But I understand all the problems people have with summaries. My next story (which should be done early next week), has undergone about a dozen summary rewrites, and I'm upset because _nothing_ seems to get all the info I want into three lines. The plot is just too complicated. So I'm thinking about trying something different: I'm going to make my summary a description of genre and the characters involved, and then in the introductory notes, I'm going to include a TRAILER, a la an episode. The trailer will have a few select lines of dialogue and scenes deliberately chosen to show the more tantalizing bits of pieces of the story without revealing too much.

I'm not sure yet if this is a good idea, but if anyone else wants to do it in lieu of a summary, I think it would help me as a reader. Naturally, you still have to download to see the trailer, but at least the genre description (e.g. "A fast-paced myth-adventure with lots of plot twists, featuring Scully, Mulder, Skinner, Krycek, and Samantha. A little quality time for our favorite agents, Surprise!Ratboy, and Skinner on a hog! ") gives the casual browser some idea, and then the trailer doesn't give away the story. In fact, the trailer can even be used to manipulate the reader's initial suspicions, same way the RL show does.
[ Livengoo ]: Personally, I agree with Kipler. I hate writing summaries so much that they're usually the worst part of the story. Why? Not because I don't like giving my plot away but because I CAN'T give my plot away. My plot is relatively meaningless, a hook to hang character and theme on. I write them reactively and they're never planned when I start. Nonetheless, a lot of people have enjoyed them, including people who said they'd never read a story summarized the way mine were. Whereas some who've written me on some other topic said they didn't read the story because of the summary. Go one. Do it. Read Corpse and give me a succinct, accurate, fan-pleasing summary. My summary ran something like "UFO killer terrorizes town and Mulder and Scully eat lots of good food with Emma." It's as accurate or more so as "Conspiracy AND MOTW plot with serial killer." The most accurate would be "Mulder and Scully face themselves in facing a serial killer who has a deep, dark past, and it's all in first person by someone else who reintroduces you to the characters and gets in the middle of everything too." Horrible. The tone of the summaries is enough to put someone off. But a small minority of people who contacted me hated my stories. Try Camping. "Mulder and Scully are sent to the woods to bond." Accurate, but it doesn't catch what the story's about. The only long story I've written that could be summarized was Leap of Faith and that one goes "X-Files Quantum Leap crossover." How descriptive. Me, I never use summaries. Never. What I use is the ratings. I'm not wild about them but the instant I see MSR or someone/other romance I know to avoid it. The instant I see even Mulder/Scully UST I know to avoid it because the core topic is Mulder and Scully getting touchy feely. To me, that's inherently a romance but there you go. That's my taste in reading to avoid them. I stick to the X-Files stories and the slash. So I use those descriptors. Summaries? Worse than meaningless. They're actually deceptive. And writing them? Feels like betraying my own story because to me, I can't summarize my stories. If I've done my job right, then my stories can't be summarized.
[ Sheare Bliss ]:

Why not summaries?

Not to be grouchy, but living in a fast food society doesn't make me want to a) read summaries or b) write them. What should I write about the Moon series? Each story is essentially an X File. It also becomes Mulder/Other, and Scully Other. It's a series of angst, Mulder's, Scully's, and that of the other characters, of whom there are many. So, when they were archived on Gossamer, I had to come up with blurbs for them. Now that they aren't archived on Gossamer, I don't. And boy, I'm relieved. I hate writing or reading summaries. Like Livengoo, I look at the categories and the ratings. And, of course, the titles.

If the title hints at a song story, or has the word Love in it, or Angel or Destiny or Forever/Eternity, or any combination thereof, I kill it immediately. If it has the words Child, Children, Baby, Mother, Father, Parents, Little, Birth, Marriage, Gold, Family, Wedding, or some slight variation or some combination thereof I kill it immediately.

If the category says MSR, I generally hit kill, but not always. If it says MSR and NC-17, I generally, but not always, kill it. If it says slash and NC-17, I generally, but not always, kill it. For those three types, I read the first few paragraphs before deciding. If it says XA or some similar combination, I'll give it a few paragraphs. Now, I cheerfully confess that I read even more quickly than I write, so that's not a great deal of time investment for me. Especially of late.

Otherwise, you're quite right, I tend to read writers I've read before and thought wrote well.

As far as writing ratings, categories, and summaries, I uniformly put my ratings at NC-17 because of violence, either implied or stated, mostly implied. And because of language, because I have my characters talk like real human beings, warts and all. As for categories, I finally gave up trying to figure out which was most accurate and wrote XA on mine. Summaries? They make me wanna curl up in the back of my hall closet, on the stored blankets and pillows.

And as far as trying to manipulate readers by not writing, I hate to remind everyone, but this is not my real life. This is not my real job. This is not my beautiful wife....sorry, I got carried away.

So, while I do adore hearing from readers who do like my stuff, my attitude is that if you don't wanna read things without summaries, it's kewl with me. Go read someone else who writes them, then. I don't know why this has even become a big deal topic on the newsgroup. Don't like stories without summaries? Don't read mine. Or, for that matter, I don't think you need to read anyone on X-Clusive who doesn't also post here WITH summaries, because I don't think we have summaries on X-Clusive.

But since you're reading Gossamer instead, you should be okay.
[Circe]: You don't *have* to post a warning. Contrary to popular belief on this newsgroup, warnings are *not* required. If you really feel the need to post warnings, you can make it very general. Caveat: Be prepared to take a lot of guff if you choose not to use warnings.
[Debra Fran Baker]: If I don't post a warning for this one, I'll get more than guff. My *beta readers* were upset at the mild warning I gave them. The problem is that they both had the reactions I wanted without the warning. I'll figure it out if I ever get it back.
[Lenora]: This is probably going to receive a lot of flames, but here goes. I agree with BooBooCato. Summaries are what makes that final decision for me as well. With all the fanfic out there, who wants to download every story, then realize more than half of them are crap?

If you are offended by this, don't be. I'm not calling names or pointing fingers, so if you protest too quickly--well, never mind.

I just don't get the aversion to using summaries. It's petty (or arrogant?) to think that not using one makes the reader enjoy your story more, and poor writers who can't write a summary without giving the plot of the story away. If you call yourself a writer, you can create a general summary that allows the reader the choice of downloading the story or bypassing it.

Refusing to add a summary for the sole purpose of thwarting searches leaves me speechless. It's like forcing someone to read your story whether they want to or not. Why bother? What you have written will only appeal to a certain audience; give those of us interested motivation to read your story. Would you buy a book with no dustjacket or summary? What makes you think anyone out there wants to read your story without this same courtesy? There is no cover art to sell the story (usually), so summaries are important. Title alone won't do it, and in only a few cases does the author name alone do it. Stephen King you are not. You NEED a summary, darn it! <foot stomp>
[CiCi Lean]: How is not writing a summary *forcing* someone to read a story? The reader is more than free to skip it.

I'm not against other people writing summaries, let them summarize until their fingers fall off. I'm just saying that authors who don't want to write one, for whatever reason, have the right to not to.

CiCi (who actually doesn't believe in categories, ratings OR warnings either, but won't go into that...)
[ Te ]: And I say: Listen to CiCi. I mean really, *I* don't need a summary. You might *want* one, but it's entirely my choice whether or not to write it. As a courtesy I put ratings notes on my stories, but in all honesty, the sheer rabidity of fanficgal's post (and several others like it) tempt me to leave them off. . .However, I know that's spiteful and petty and I like the challenge of making the things informative without being spoilers. Ah well. And to reiterate CiCi's point: Who is making you read these summary-less stories? Have you been beaten for passing them by in the past? Is this some rule no one's informed me of?
[Lynda]: Personally, I use summaries to decide whether to download a file. Since I have to pay the telephone company(British Telecom) for every minute (or part thereof) on line I am really forced to skim the titles, keywords and summaries to try to keep my phone bill down to a sum that I can afford to pay.
[Livengoo]: I have one huge aversion to writing them. They're meaningless, and they make me trash the theme and content of my story in my own mind. I write them because archivists demanded me to. If I have a choice I don't. Unless you write a really simple, linear plotline (Mulder and Scully make out and talk) then they're worse than meaningless - they oversimplify a complex, interesting story and make it sound dull. When I summarize Oklahoma it sounds boring as hell but of all the letters I've had, whether compliments or complaints, I've never seen one say it was boring. Summaries are misleading and I'd say they make more people avoid a story than attracting them to a story. I use ratings and I read or kill by ratings and title. Anything that says love, unsaid, longing, father, mother, anything that hints of romance or mush I kill. But I do that by the titles. As far as I know, based on hearing from others who read the things, I've only made three errors in two years. And friends who skim the first paragraph usually can correct me on those. So why use summaries at all? They're only useful for a story so simply constructed that the summary basically tells you the entire story anyway. For any story worth the time, they're misleading and tend to make a good story sound dull. Look at The Five - can't summarize it any way that captures any iota of what's good in it. Or Playing for Keeps. or Sacrifice. Or Etched. Or Gentlemen: Private Matters . . . or, for that matter, Mile High or The Box. If it's worth reading it usually can't be summarized. If it can be successfully summarized it's usually not worth reading. It's the same rule as the movies - if it gives good teaser it's usually so shallow it's not worth seeing and if it's complex enough to be worth seeing it's usually too complicated to be summarized well in a teaser. We're not pros. But if we have any pride and craft then we're good enough to write a plot and story that means more than a summary can convey.
[Sheare Bliss]: I will say again what I've said before.....I would be astonished to find that published authors write the summaries on the dust jacket. If someone wants to archive my stories and put a summary with them, more power to them. It isn't arrogance or blithe disregard or hostility toward readers.

I say again, fine, don't read stories without summaries. But demanding that all writers produce story summaries to suit the reader's desires or convenience is, I think, the outside of enough, extremely arrogant, extremely discourteous, especially when one considers that you aren't paying for them.

And even when I'm getting paid for mine, I'm not any more comfortable or at ease writing them.

I can't speak for others, but I ALWAYS rated my stories when I was still posting them here instead of on X-Clusive. And not only did I rate them, I specified why they were rated the way they were. And I generally tried to indicate that they were X Files. When I was archived on Gossamer, I DID cobble together some summaries, which I loathed everytime I was in the B's and went past them.

This entire discussion, frankly, is incredible.
[ [Teddi Litman]] ]: Ah, the big, bad summary issue again.:) I personally appreciate summaries. However, I don't think anyone should *require* them; and I really don't think anyone really does. If Gossamer once required summaries for all submissions, they've backed down long ago because there are plenty of deliberately, unsummarized stories on Gossamer. That's a good thing. Frankly, I feel Gossamer is often unfairly criticized perhaps for past, now amended policies.... or things that were just rumoured suggestions. If anything, it appears to me that Gossamer at least makes a good attempt to include and welcome any type of X-File fanfiction. Is a summary a way to advertise a story? Certainly. However it is not the only way or even the best way. The title, for instance, is the first thing seen/read. Done well, it can be a great advertisement. I was rather disappointed when the thread suggesting writers endeavor using original titles degraded into yet another horrible people are being cruel to writers rant. Ultimately though, the best advertisement is still good writing. If anything will get me to look at a story, it is a recommendation from another reader. If a favorite story of yours never gets recommended, it just seems silly for you to complain... just recommend the story yourself. Everyone who posts has a voice here. (This last part was a bit of another old argument that wasn't even on here.<G>)
[Kipler]: Authors have expressed several times why they don't like to use summaries. It has nothing to do with wanting to force readers to download a story. And it has nothing to do with being uncourteous. It's about the imperfections of the summaries themselves - their inability to meaningfully express the content of a story that's often taken me months to write. While I don't demand that anyone else care about that issue - or understand it - it is very important to me.

And while published novels do have to be marketed to draw a large audience, I suspect that published authors are just as leery of the marketing strategies they run into as some of the fanfic authors are of summaries, and for the very same reasons.

People seem to believe that summaries draw in a large reading audience. I'm not wholly convinced of this. For every summary I write about one of my stories, I might gain a couple readers. But I guarantee I also lose a couple readers. To me, it feels like a zero sum situation. (Glad I could finally use that term in everyday conversation.)

If you want to find good stories, find good authors. Summaries do no more to guarantee that you'll like the stuff you download than the picture on the dust jacket guarantees you'll like a novel you take out of the library.

--Kipler, who defies her own post by admitting that she couldn't read a 70's edition of "Jane Eyre" because of the horrific, 70's-style trendy illustrations...
[Sheare Bliss]: several other people used words like arrogant, manipulative, and I think hinted that such writers were either lazy or uninterested in pleasing their readers.

And just so I can kick the dead horse once or twice, I have to admit that this whole line of discussion has really, really, really added to my load of disillusionment with the supposedly wonderful fanfic community. Not that my disillusionment is relevant, necessarily, but this is just one more instance of writers being told peevishly what they should be doing, what they should be producing, what they should call their stories, what they should rate their stories, how they should categorize their stories. I posted something to that effect about a month ago during ANOTHER brouhaha and actually got supported, so I'm going to say it again.

This is getting ridiculous. If you don't like the way writers are a) summarizing or not summarizing, b) rating or not rating, c) categorizing or not categorizing, d) writing or not writing, then vote with your kill button. This attitude that so many have been taking that reading and giving feedback gives the right to demand certain things from authors is mind-boggling.

I'm not going to presume to speak for others here. However, despite writing for fun, I do my damned well best to produce a story that has internal logic, that has accurate details of, say, genetic research, virology, Ufology, what have you. Not to mention following the laws of physics. And I've turned out....lemme see, seven or eight novel sized X files. I derived a great deal of pleasure doing it. I put it out to share. And while I admit that Complicated Shadows took just one week from start to finish, that's the exception rather than the rule. That's a fair amount of work for something I do for fun.

This is free, folks, other than whatever cost you incur for your ISP. We do this because we like to do it. We put these stories out for readers to share the joy of creating the story. Nobody has to shout huzzah or engage in slurpy sycophancy, mind, I'm just asking that you let us write without attempting to dictate how and why.

When I submit things to publishers/literary agents, that's my real work, and yeah, there are guidelines for submitting. And, gasp, you have to provide a story outline. You have to provide things you don't have to provide when you're writing for fun.

So why not just sit back and enjoy the read instead of finding fault with every external part of the story from A-Z. And if you can't find yourself taking the time to give stories a chance just because, using methods I've mentioned before, don't read those without summaries.

Vote with your kill button instead of attempting to define what other people should do, okay?
[Teddi Litman]: Why be disillusioned with the whole fanfic community? A few people happen to be a little snarky about wanting summaries required; it wasn't even a majority of people in *this* thread who held this opinion on summaries. So what? Aren't each and every one of us a little snarky about something? I personally am a bit snarky about songfic. Just as there will never be a movement to ban songfic because of my personal pet peeve; there will never be a movement to require summaries, ratings or keywords just because *some* people seem to think that's a good idea. I remember the anger towards the Gossamer archives about summaries. As I recall, it appeared someone suggested the archivists write summaries for stories authors failed to summarize. To this day, I think this was a well- meaning but naive suggestion rather than a malicious or dictatorial one. A number of authors rejected this suggestion and most importantly, they stated why they rejected this suggestion. What happened? The Gossamer archivists listened. I think most of us listened too. These authors' concerns were valid. The suggestion was never implemented. As far as I know, the archivists at Gossamer do not write summaries *today.*
[CiCi Lean]: Demanding things from fanfic authors is like being invited to someone's house for a free dinner and then demanding that they serve you certain food in a certain way before you'll accept. Sure, you can do that, but it won't be long before the invitations start drying up.

Remember, this writing is delivered for free, some of it is as good or better than books you pay for, *and* it's about your favorite TV characters and show.

As far as I can see, there's not much more to ask for.

References