There are many sites that offer the opportunity to submit a teaser – a small portion of an upcoming chapter. Alas, sometimes a teaser reveals too much about the chapter, other times it doesn't elicit the readers' attention enough.

As a writer pointed out, “the teaser is like a trailer for the fic, would I watch a movie that contain scenes from the most boring part of my day?”

How would you describe "the perfect teaser?"

The answers have been provided by some great readers and writers on “A Different Forest,” a wonderful place to discuss fanfics.

  • “A couple/few paragraphs long that leave me intrigued/dying for the chapter to update. Sometimes this can be done with only one sentence or a picture, too.”
  • It should catch the reader's attention within the first couple of lines. Assuming your teaser is posted on a fic site alongside many other teasers, readers not already familiar with your fic will be impatient to move on if it's not immediately captivating. Following this same logic, I also think a teaser shouldn't be too long.”
  • The teaser should be short enough to read quickly, and shouldn't require an in-depth knowledge of the plot in order to follow along. If it's only going to be a few lines, those had better be some powerful lines.”
  • If it's well written Edwardian angst, I can't left click fast enough."
  • If it's a story I haven't read yet - I like it to have a nice slice of whatever is unique for the story. I end up grabbing a new read or two every week based on teaser threads and it's often because there was something different about the style that made me stop and click through to check out a larger sample.”
  • I like picture teasers. They hint at what is to come without giving too much away but they also can't be too oblique that people who aren't reading your story won't get the idea.”
  • The scene should be interesting. It's blindingly obvious, but I've read so many teasers that contain strangely mundane scenes with the characters doing and saying pretty much nothing.”
  • Something that builds suspense...makes you wonder and guess and question. Pictures and songs are fun too - I've used both and enjoyed both.”
  • I think a good teaser always leaves the reader with at least one question that needs to be answered.”
To say or not to say
  • I'm never for big reveals in teasers (or A/Ns for that matter). I like to read a story unfold. I like it to be brief and not to give anything big away. Something that just makes me excited to see the new chapter coming.”
  • If it's a story I REALLY want a new chapter to, the author could post the entire chapter as the teaser and I'd be happy. I absolutely do not mind being 'spoiled' especially if the last chapter was a cliffhanger.”
  • It should be somewhat self-contained. Readers should be able to figure out what's going on in the scene without any prior knowledge of your fic.”
Common mistake

Cliches: “If it's full of cliches, […] I'm out.”
Readers-unfriendly: “If non-readers of the fic can't get what it's about at all, I get this really weird sense of being discriminated against.”
Give-away: “I really dislike teasers that give away too much of the chapter, and in general I actually really don't like reading teasers unless I'm desperate for the update, because I think they are very hard to do well. If I were queen of the forest, my general rule for teasers would be that the writer should never include any of the climax of the chapter in the teaser, or give away the big piece of action for the chapter. I really really don't want to know. It makes reading the actual chapter so much less enjoyable if I already know where everything is heading, and it leads me to skim.”
Your thoughts?
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