Breaking Down the Blurb

Breaking Down the Blurb
February 21, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

Writing your story was hard, but now you have a new challenge to face, boiling it all down to 150 words. In other words, it’s time to write the blurb. Your blurb is the bit of writing on the back of your book that invites the reader to read your book. This is crucial because it means whether a potential reader with actually pick up your book or pass on it. So where do we begin?

Come up with a pair of words to describe your protagonist. This could be an adjective, like gifted, unorthodox, street-smart, adventurous, or outgoing, and their occupation, like fire fighter, college student, stay-at-home mom, or 16-year-old girl.

Now what makes your protagonist unique? Does he have magical powers he’s hiding? Is she a secret jewel thief? What makes them stand out from all the other books’ protagonists?

Now, it’s time to put it all together. Adventurous 16-year-old girl Eva seems like a normal teenager, but at night she turns into notorious jewel thief, the Black Cat.

Next, introduce the story world. This is especially important for new fantasy worlds you’re creating and for historical romance where place and time are so important. For example: It’s the roaring twenties and the colorful town of Smith’s Creek is hiding more than just a speakeasy.

Now it’s time to introduce your story problem. You need to introduce your protagonist’s story goal, the conflict keeping them from achieving their goal, and what’s at stake. For example: Eva just needs one more big heist to get away from her abusive handler who’s raised her when a rival thief shows up out of nowhere. A couple years older and wiser than her, he’s a pro and he keeps sabotaging her plans. Will she ever get the Riera diamond and be able to escape this life? This explains the problem, her goal, and what’s at stake for her.

ractapopulous / Pixabay

Now that we’ve looked at what goes into the blurb, let’s look at some tips for writing the blurb.

  • Focus your blurb on one character, your protagonist. You may have several main characters, but just focus on one. If you mention any other character, it should be from the protagonist’s perspective. Don’t try to talk about too many people and complicate the blurb with sub plots.
  • Be specific about conflict. What does your protagonist do to reach her goal? What obstacles are set in her way?
  • Focus on the highlights. Your blurb should be two paragraphs maximum.
  • Don’t waste time describing your theme. Your theme should be apparent without fluffy descriptions about how your reader will feel good after reading your book.
  • Keep it simple and concise. Don’t try to impress your reader with fancy vocabulary and long, convoluted sentences. Keep it interesting and clear.
  • Just like we leave out other characters, we leave out subplots. Focus on your protagonist and the main story conflict.
  • This is not the synopsis. So do not include the ending. You want to entice others to read your story, so don’t give away spoilers.

Writing the blurb is an important part of selling our story. Take these tips and go out and write the best blurb you can. What are your tips for writing blurbs? Share below and happy writing.

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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.

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