The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

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Give Me the Skinny: How to Write a Blurb

If you stopped breathing out of panic, or gritted your teeth in frustration, relax. I’m not going to tell you what you already know: what a book blurb is and what it is suppose to include. Ok, I will start with that, but the goal of this post is to give you ideas on how to get your creative juices following to actually write your own.

What does a book blurb do? It sells your book. It sells your book because it sparks your potential readers’ interest enough to take your book to the cash resister (or download) so they can read how your blurb develops inside of the cover.

What to include:

1) The main character(s)

2) The plot

3) The (main) challenge

4) Possible bump in the road

 

What to aim for:

Read this carefully:

Rule 1: Tell no more about your story than it takes to capture your readers’ interest.

We know there are more characters, subplots, twist and turns. There are 90,000 – 100,000 words in your novel! Don’t try to fit them all on the back cover.

Example 1: Aliens try to take over the world.

The above is not enough to really spark my interest. There are 100 books in front of me with the same plot. Why is yours different?

Example 2: Aliens try to take over the world by pretending to be the second coming of Christ.

I am picking that book up!

But wait. Isn’t that too short? Read this carefully:

Rule 2: Rule 1 was an over-simplification. It was an exercise to get you to the heart of your story.

I hoped it worked. If so, we can expand a little. Add the main characters and challenges. If not, there are more suggestions to help you.

Step 1: Think of the last movie you saw and loved.

We summarize work all of the time. You saw a movie. You loved it. You wanted your friends to watch it. What did you do? You told them what it was about. You managed in five to ten sentences to sum up a two hour movie, peak your friends’ interest and get them to by a $13 dollar ticket to the show. Use that skill towards your work.

 

Step 2: Keep that movie in mind and write down what it was about. The spill you would give to a friend to get them to go see it.

Notice what you put in. The main character(s), maybe a problem they had and a challenge or two they faced.

Step 3: Now, google that movie!

Read what actually made it on the back DVD summary. How did you do? Did you hit the same main points? Did you mention the same characters? Did you put in the same plot? Did you leave one out? Did you pick the wrong one? Learn from this. Learn why Hollywood invested thousands of dollars for someone to write those few words…because they knew those words would sell the entire story.

Step 4: Repeat. Repeat a few times until what you write matches more and more closely to what is already written. (Match points, not exact wording. ^.^) Which means, you’re learning to identify the main plot, the main points, what really grips potential buyers.

Step 5: Apply it to your own novel!

FYI: Keep your blurb “concise” and “clean”. Do not repeat phrases or the same idea.

If you’re still having trouble try this:

Think back to when the thought for your novel first popped into your mind. Now, recall which part of those thoughts made you stop what you were doing, sit down at your computer, and give up your sanity and freedom for the next few months. The part of your story that motivated you to do that, probably should make it into the blurb!

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8 comments on “Give Me the Skinny: How to Write a Blurb

  1. dbryantsimmons
    July 6, 2012

    As you know, I struggle with this. How am I supposed to know what the reader likes or wants to hear or what will make them interested?

    • lorageneva
      July 6, 2012

      As a reader, what do you like and what do you want to hear? What makes you interested? That’s a good place to start, I think.

      • dbryantsimmons
        July 7, 2012

        Sounds easy enough … maybe I try to hard to appease other people, you know? So-and-so says they like this … so I put that in there. And so on and so on. I should just concentrate on what I like about my story?

      • lorageneva
        July 8, 2012

        Exactly. I was in a critique for my first novel and I listened intently at every thing they told me to do. I took notes. I made all the changes, cut my book in half because they said it was to long for YA. The next time they critiqued, their new suggestions basically amounted to me putting back in most of what I cut out. Problem was, there was no way to do it effectively. I had to toss the whole thing. It took me over a year to recupe from that emotionally and creatively. I am now on the third version of the re-do and I have finally found what I like about the story, what I wanted it to be along. So, listen to what they have to say…write it down…think about it…if it doesn’t jive with your vision, let it go. Trust your gut. Every reader gets their own meaning for the text, whatever you intended. Some will like it. Some won’t. But as an author, I feel you must first be true to yourself, your gut, otherwise, the story will have no soul. My humble opinion 🙂

    • Jane Doe
      July 9, 2012

      lorageneva, I’m so sorry to read that happened. I can’t imagine what it was like basically starting from scratch. I’m glad you’re still standing. (and writing!)

      I think there is a balance between sticking with your gut and humbling accepting that the other person knows what they are talking about. With a whole story, that can be tricky…giving in too much or not enough, but with a blurb, I think it’s a bit easier.

      First, identify the main point(s).
      Second, write those down!
      After that, it’s basically editing like we do any other part of our story. Word it in the most catching way and move on to marketing it. =)

      “I am now on the third version of the re-do and I have finally found what I like about the story, what I wanted it to be along.”

      “I should just concentrate on what I like about my story?”

      I like that you both say to focus on what you like about your story. That generally is the main plot of your story, what made you write it in the first place. Sounds like a blurb to me! ^.^

  2. lorageneva
    July 6, 2012

    Reblogged this on lorageneva and commented:
    For those of you who have finished that amazing novel and are now ready to move to the next step, this blog post walks you through the process of creating that “blurb” on the back of the book. This is an important step as it can also be the first paragraph of that all-important query letter. I found the letter to be almost as hard as writing the novel–almost. This blog is a great help!

  3. Jane Doe
    July 6, 2012

    Thanks for the reblog! And I love seeing readers & writers helping others out with suggestions. Keep it up!

    I received a few emails asking for more info on this subject so I answered them in, “Ask Jane”. Of course, I’ll follow the comments here as well, but check out what other people are asking. It may help. ^.^ http://wp.me/p2sDTP-aw

  4. Pingback: Writing My Blurb – Step by Step « The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

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This entry was posted on July 5, 2012 by in For Writers and tagged , , , .

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