What is a Plot Summary - Anime Vice Wiki Tutorial

Topic started by ethan on Jan. 6, 2011. Last post by FoxxFireArt 3 years, 8 months ago.
Post by ethan (887 posts) See mini bio Level 15
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I originally wrote this blog post for our big brother site Comic Vine, but it's obviously an important part of Anime Vice's wiki articles too.  So, just what is a plot summary? I googled "what is a plot summary" and found some great answers.  According to Answers.com here is what a plot summary is:

A plot summary is a description of the story in a novel, film or other piece of storytelling. It is not a review and should not contain the opinions of the author. It should contain all the necessary information about the main characters and the unfolding drama to give a complete impression of the twists and turns in the plot, but without confusing the reader with unnecessary detail. 

And according to Wikipedia here's what a plot summary is not.  

A plot summary is not a recap. It should not cover every scene and every moment of a story.... Not only should a summary avoid a scene by scene recap, there's no reason why a plot summary has to cover the events of the story in the order they appear (though it is often useful). The point of a summary is not to reproduce the experience—it's to explain the story. If the original is non-linear or experimental in its structure, the article should state that fact in prose, not through regurgitation of the plot.  In fact, for a confusing story, we should assume that some of our readers will look the story up because they didn't understand it. Just repeating what they saw isn't going to help them!   

Let's look at another quote from that Wikipedia page since they are clearly smarter than me: 

While longer descriptions may appear to provide more data to the reader, a more concise summary may in fact be more informative as it highlights the most important elements. By focusing the reader's attention on the larger structures of a plot, without drowning it in trivial detail, a shorter summary can often help the reader to understand a work much better than an overlong one. Excessively detailed plot summaries may also infringe on copyright and fair-use concerns     

Here are some bullet points to follow when writing plot summaries: 
  • Plot summaries should be in the present tense.     
  • Avoid trivial details.
  • Plot summaries should summarize; explaining only the most important elements of the story.
  • Read what you write out loud -- read it word-for-word like a robot -- before you save it.  
  • Write well.
 
 For a tutorial on English punctuation check out How To Use English Punctuation.  For more updates follow me on twitter: @red_lamp
Post by FoxxFireArt (2,648 posts) See mini bio Level 25
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I said it before on Twitter, but I find it astonishing that people have such a problem understanding what a plot summary is that they need such an elaborate explanation. People need to read more.
 
I start all my written reviews with a brief plot summary.
Post by Headpool (7 posts) See mini bio Level 5

The bullets have a good quicklist to consider.  Glad this is here.

Post by ZombiePie (861 posts) See mini bio Level 15
@ethan said:

"Read what you write out loud -- read it word-for-word like a robot -- before you save it.  


Post by sickVisionz (4,309 posts) See mini bio Level 24
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A character or word limit for episode articles would help if you don't want people writing episode summaries longer than a certain amount.  Nothing drives the point home and guarantees 100% cooperation with the rule as much as a hard limit that can't be bypassed, similar to how the deck limit guarantees that all decks will be short.
Post by EquitasInvictus (332 posts) See mini bio Level 15
I actually have some critical questions as to how plot summaries on anime series should be written: 
 
How much of summary is too much, spoiler-wise? Should a story's explanation incorporate important twists in the plot? If so, do we use spoiler tags for those parts? 
 
For example, is a plot twist from the first episode early enough to add in a summary without a spoiler tag?
Post by FoxxFireArt (2,648 posts) See mini bio Level 25
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@EquitasInvictus: 
A plot summary should never be in a spoiler tag. That's just silly.
 
I plot summary for an overall series should be very brief. It shouldn't spoil. Just write a short paragraph giving the basic idea of what the series is about. Look on the back of pretty much any manga volume and you will see a summary of that volume.

Think of a plot summery on an episode or volume the same way a summary is written in a TV Guide. It's brief, names some of the major characters that appear in that episode, but only hints at the outcome or says nothing at all about it.
 
Check out these summaries for Negima Vol 25. I wrote plot summaries for the whole volume and chapters there in.
Post by takashichea (13,803 posts) See mini bio Level 25
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I never realized there was a limit on how long plot summaries are supposed to be. I made a mistake on some of the fairy tail episodes and one of them's long. I just got too enthusiastic with the episode. I will go and shorten it up.
http://www.animevice.com/the-guild-for-only-one/12-130016/
Post by FoxxFireArt (2,648 posts) See mini bio Level 25
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@takashichea: 
I don't think highly detailed writing is really that big of an issue on episode profiles and manga volumes. The problem is more about incredibly detailed summaries on character profiles.

I actually think that the more detailed we make the episode and volume profiles, the more streamlined we can make the character profiles. Look at how I handled the first episode of Naruto Shuppiden "Homecoming".
Post by Mechanical_Ape (84 posts) See mini bio Level 8
@takashichea: I don't think there is a set word limit you should try to follow. Instead, write however you much you need to write in order to create the summary. I think the biggest concern is trivial details. A plot summary does not need to be a complete retelling of every single event that happened during the episode. It should highlight the important points, so that someone would be able to read it and understand what the episode or volume is about. You don't need to retell every scene or recreate every conversation in detail in order to get the point across.
 
@FoxxFireArt:  Should there be a spoiler tag in that summary? I thought plot summaries didn't need spoiler sections since it is assumed it will contain information regarding the episode.
Post by sickVisionz (4,309 posts) See mini bio Level 24
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@FoxxFireArt said:

" @takashichea: 
I don't think highly detailed writing is really that big of an issue on episode profiles and manga volumes. The problem is more about incredibly detailed summaries on character profiles.

I actually think that the more detailed we make the episode and volume profiles, the more streamlined we can make the character profiles. Look at how I handled the first episode of Naruto Shuppiden "Homecoming". "

I'm confused.  I thought we weren't supposed to have detailed episode profiles and that 

A plot summary should never be in a spoiler tag. That's just silly. 

Post by FoxxFireArt (2,648 posts) See mini bio Level 25
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@Mechanical_Ape:
I mostly only put that in spoiler tags because it's just so large. Condensing it all makes things just look tidy. There is a brief non-spoiler explanation at the top.
 
@sickVisionz: 
I thought the problem was that we didn't want intricately detailed profiles on character's profiles. Though, an episode profiles should also have a non-spoiler summary at the top. The same way a TV guide only basically explains the events of an episode without spoiler anything. If you watched Ethan's wiki edit video,  
http://www.comicvine.com/tutorial-how-to-format-wiki-pages/112-1368/
Check out where he talks at about Other Media section at 06:00-07:48 (Talking about Wonder Woman TV and Wolverine Movies) and on the Hulk profile at 08:25-11:27. He goes on to say that the detailed Hulk movie summary should be on the Hulk's MOVIE PAGE itself.  He says that it shouldn't be "there"(talking about the character page). Not that it shouldn't be on the site.

He talks about writing summaries on character profiles, then linking to episodes or movie pages.

If the episode and volume profiles are well filled out in fine detail. We could make character pages in the story arcs protion much more streamlined. We could write very plot summary paragraphs of an entire arc, and if the user wanted to learn more we could direct them to the episodes of that arc. We don't have Story Arc sections for profiles, and I don't think we ever will. This seems like a good idea to compensate for that.
 
Episode and Volume pages are articles unto themselves that deal only with that episode/volume specifically. Why not make them detailed?
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