Monday, July 30, 2012
Writing The Dreaded Blurb
I think it would be accurate to say that writing the all-important blurb is something most authors approach with trepidation. I should be able to articulate the reasons; I’m a writer after all, but I honestly don’t know why we freeze up when the time comes.
I frequent a few message boards and at any one time there are likely to be several of us posting our blurbs, asking for an opinion from our fellow writers.
A great topic for a blog...plus it’s an excuse to put off writing for a bit longer, so here are my thoughts about writing the blurb for e-fiction.
I would say that too many of us treat our blurb as a mini-synopsis. While I would agree that we should establish the time, the location, and mention at least two main characters, I don’t think we need to give away the entire story line. We rarely need backstory.
Let’s face it, we’re in the business of selling books, and assuming the cover has attracted the potential reader's attention, the blurb will be the first contact he has with the content of our book. It’s up to us to make it count.
When the book has been purchased, read, and you get that five-star review from a total stranger, what did the reader like about your book?
In virtually all cases, the reader connected with your main character. They liked the action, whether it was solving the mystery, watching the heroine being swept away by the hero, or cheering as the good guys repelled the aliens. But mainly, they identified with the hero of your story. Perhaps in some small way they became him.
If that’s what the reader liked enough to write a review (and we all know how few and far between those are), then why not use the blurb to draw them into your story with a few words showing your hero’s charm, determination, vulnerability, or whatever makes him/her appealing.
There’s always conflict, right? It comes in many forms, but it’s always there. Throw out a hint of the conflict, and your reader should at least read the sample. After that, it’s up to you to have written a compelling beginning.
One last thing: ask a question. Can Jack and Jill scale the insurmountable hill? If you feel your blurb lacks punch, add a question. It’s a frequently used device, but that’s because it works. By asking a question, you invite the reader to become involved in the story and that’s what you wanted from the beginning, right?
I’ve read opinions stating that a blurb should be no longer than two sentences. I disagree. Your blurb should be concise, but it should also be as long as it takes to interest the reader in your story.
These days, readers can scan a hundred books an hour on the internet. That’s a lot of competition. We all need to write better blurbs, myself included.