HOW TO WRITE A BIG BANG SUMMARY
Congratulations! You're almost ready to submit a draft of your story to the Cap-IM Big Bang! Artists will be picking anonymously from a list of submitted stories, and the only information they have to go in is what you give us -- so with that in mind, here are some tips on writing a summary that really stands out!
ONE: A summary should summarize the story itself.
Sometimes when posting a story, you may want to use a quotation from the story, or a dictionary definition of the title, or another quotation -- something to catch readers' interest. While these kinds of summaries can be eye-catching, they aren't very useful for prospective artists. Your artist will want to know what the story itself is about. It doesn't necessarily have to be the most exciting or dramatic summary ever, but it should let them know the basics.
Steve and Tony rescue giant kittens and go on a dinner date.
You will probably want a summary slightly longer than this, but this is a good place to start. If you're writing your story from an outline you already have, you probably already have this information. You might also consider asking your beta to help you summarize your story -- after all, they've already read it!
So where do you go from this sentence? Put yourself in your artist's shoes -- what would make you want to read your story? Assuming it's a romantic slash story, you'd probably want to know more about the romance, right? So, mention a little bit of the character setup and the way the narrative works.
Tony wants nothing more to ask Steve out on a date, but he keeps missing his chance! Every time he's alone with Steve, the Avengers alert goes off. He decides he's not going to let that get to him -- and he asks Steve out while the Avengers are saving giant kittens. He's thrilled when Steve agrees, but the date has its own set of problems -- namely, giant puppies.
In most circumstances, the assumption will be that the POV of your summary matches the POV of your story.
The summary can be different than the final summary of your posted story -- and in many situations, it should be. A posted version of this story, for example, might omit the giant puppies... or even the fact that Steve says yes. This is because you don't necessarily want to give everything away to a reader, but an artist should know more than an ordinary reader. After all, suppose there's someone waiting for the chance to draw Steve and Tony and giant puppies?
TWO: Not too much, not too little.
You're going to want more than a single sentence, but you're not going to want a wall of text, either. You don't need to mention everything that happens, nor do you need to mention every character that appears. Moderation is key.
Use paragraph breaks if necessary.
Please keep your summary under 200 words.
THREE: Be clear about when and where your story is taking place.
When you submit your story, you are asked to submit information about what universe(s) it takes place in -- for example, 616, MCU, Ultimates, AA, AvAc, 1872, 3490, Noir. If you are writing an AU/fusion, this should also be mentioned.
If you are writing an AU with an entirely different setting (such as a coffeeshop AU or a fantasy AU), consider mentioning what universe(s) your story draws its inspiration from in terms of characterization or appearance of the characters. (For example: "AU, based on 616.") Artists often have preferences as to which universes they would like to draw. You don't want to get into a situation where your epic fantasy AU is MCU-based but your artist is uncomfortable drawing RDJ's face.
If you are writing a fusion/crossover based on an existing fandom (e.g., a Star Wars AU), PLEASE indicate somewhere in your submission information (in the universe line or in the summary itself) what other fandom your story is based in. Your artist needs to know this! If you're writing a Star Wars AU, you probably don't want someone who's never seen Star Wars to draw Steve as a Jedi Knight.
Giving information about the setting isn't just for AUs! As the MCU gets larger and larger, and as comics get ever more sprawling, the possibilities for canon-set stories keep expanding. A story where Steve and Tony get together during The Avengers is going to be very different from one where they get together during Captain America: Civil War. Consider using the beginning of your summary to set the scene, time-wise:
After the helicarriers fall, Steve wakes up in the hospital to find Tony at his bedside...
The night before Fisk's men come to the town of Timely...
What if Tony and the Illuminati decided not to wipe Steve's mind?
You don't necessarily have to incorporate the information narratively into your summary; sometimes a line that says set during Iron Man v1 #182 is enough. And, of course, sometimes the particular details don't matter. But if it's important to the story, it should be there, and if it's set in an era of canon that not everyone is equally comfortable with (such as The Crossing or Secret Empire), your prospective artists should know that.
FOUR: Mention warnings.
This leads into the next point: warnings.
Even if you decide to label the story as Choose Not To Warn when you post it, you MUST list all applicable warnings with your story for the claims process. You are REQUIRED to warn for the major common warnings -- non-con/rape, dub-con, graphic violence, underage sex (characters under 18 years old), major character death. Please also warn for topics such as incest, as well as any other common triggers. If your story pairs Steve and Tony with other people at any point, you should mention that.
If your story contains one of these elements, you may wish to provide more detail about its appearance in the story, for example:
Consent issues: Tony is blackout drunk and makes a pass at Steve. There is kissing, but Steve ultimately turns Tony down; no sex takes place until Tony is sober.
One scene of graphic torture and bodily mutilation (Tony loses a hand).
Incest as per Ultimates canon; Steve walks in on Wanda and Pietro kissing.
Consensual sex in which Steve is 17 and Tony is 16.
Steve/Tony is endgame, but Tony sleeps with Tiberius Stone and Sunset Bain. Only the Steve/Tony sex is explicit; the rest is fade-to-black.
Please also consider warning for story elements that are liked by some people and disliked by others, such as A/B/O or BDSM. This information enables artists to avoid content that triggers or squicks them -- and it lets them find content they're excited to illustrate!
FIVE: Be enticing.
Specifically, you want to be enticing for the purposes of art. You're writing this summary for the purpose of attracting an artist. If there's something in your story that you think someone might think is fun to draw, make sure to say so! If it doesn't fit in the actual summary, you are welcome to optionally include it after the summary.
The Avengers fight Godzilla.
Contains giant robots!
Steve is Nomad, with the cape and everything!
Steve and Tony vacation in Paris and visit the Eiffel Tower.
Tony and Steve swap uniforms.
Putting all this together, here's an example of a summary:
It's no secret to Tony that his father thought well of Captain America. It's not even a secret that he wished Tony had been more like Cap. But Tony didn't realize how much he meant it -- until his father's will is read, and there is a bizarre codicil. Tony stands to inherit a previously-unknown treasure trove of his father's plans and inventions... if he marries Captain America by the time he's 45. This has to be a joke. It's never going to happen, because Captain America's dead. But when Tony is 41, SHIELD finds Captain America in the Arctic, and suddenly no one is joking anymore. SHIELD wants to get their hands on Howard's plans more than anything. It turns out they can make Tony marry Steve Rogers. And, even worse, it turns out Tony's in love with him.
(Tony is with Pepper at the beginning of the story. There are no standard warnings, but he drinks a lot. Contains Steve and Tony getting married -- Steve wears his Army uniform to the ceremony -- and many romantic scenes of Steve and Tony dancing in the moonlight.)
The additional paragraph is optional, depending on whether your fic has warnings that need to be explained, and whether you want to give additional visual information for your artist.
Good luck with your summaries, and have fun writing!