The Printed Fox: Writing a Blurb Made Simple

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Writing a Blurb Made Simple

This is a post that made its debut over at the Naughty Pages of the Phoenix, and I think it bears repeating. Plus, the links work in this one.

If you’re like most writers, the words “write a synopsis” make you feel a bit pouty and rebellious. Kind of like writing a synopsis, but maybe not as bad. If you’re like most writers, writing a blurb makes you get a little whiny.

Writing blurbs making you
a tad crazy?

Admit it. It kinda makes you want to throw a tantrum like a sissy la-la, doesn’t it? It’s okay, there’s no shame here. It’s just you and me.

Between you and me, I love writing blurbs. Love them! It’s the very first thing I write, actually, followed by writing my synopsis, which you can check out here: How To Write a Synopsis Made Easy.

So what is it about writing blurbs that I find so easy? Simplicity.

First I’m going to tell you about a writing technique that I will praise until the cows come home. Most people who have known me for any length of time have probably heard me talk about Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. I get absolutely no compensation for sharing his tips or products; I just love what he has to share.

If you can afford it, I very highly recommend getting his program Snowflake Pro. Everything about the Snowflake Method you need in one easy-to-use little program, with some seriously kickass extras that are actually useful.

You can use the Snowflake Method whether you’re just getting started on your WIP or you’re halfway through. It works just as well for pantsers as it does plotters.

The idea is you take your entire story and condense it into one line, ideally 15 words or less. Lesser is better. If you can’t take the main idea of your own book and boil it down to a simple sentence, might I suggest asking yourself if you know what, exactly, it is you’re writing about, and why.

Brutal? Maybe. But we all know that you can’t be a nancy ponce and call yourself a writer, so buck up and hear me out.

After you take that first line, expand it into a five-sentence paragraph.

This is where we delve into the dissection of a story and the basic three-act structure. You have the beginning, and Plot Disaster #1 happens at the end of Act I. In a character-driven novel, the character’s choices and actions bring about Disaster #2 in the middle of Act 2 (this is usually considered the high point, as well). More character choices and action, plus some plot influence, brings about Disaster #3 at the end of Act 2. Everything comes to a head, forcing Act 3, which has the resolution and denouement.

How does that look in your paragraph form?
Your beginning: Sentence 1
Plot Disaster #1: Sentence 2
Characters making things worse, result in Disaster #2: Sentence 3 (usually it seems all is lost at this point, and your reader should be asking themselves, “Wow, how are they ever going to get out of this one?)
Character choice/action + some plot influence brings Disaster #3: Sentence 4
Resolution, falling action, ending: Sentence 5

Now you have a fantastic blueprint for the rest of your story. And don’t look now, but with a little tweaking, you have yourself a blurb.

Here’s an example from my latest MS, Devil’s Bitch, which will be released later this year:

Norelia, Imperial heir and zealous second-in-command of the Endless Army, is cornered by a wager against her father, the Emperor. The stakes? To marry the winner of the next Summer Games in order to ensure the continuation of the Imperial line. Confident she will win the Games and the wager, she is devastated when a mysterious contender named Reoth defeats her and claims not only the title of Champion, but claims Norelia as well. A misplaced note reveals Reoth and her father placed wagers on Reoth's ability to "tame" her, proving it was all a game after all. When her father is killed in a surprise invasion, the Empire stands on the brink of war and Norelia is thrust into the center of it with Reoth, a man she'd sooner kill than trust. As Reoth admits knowledge regarding who is behind this invasion, Norelia must determine where his true allegiance lies before the Empire, and her heart, are destroyed forever.

You’ll notice I tweaked the first three sentences to be more engaging as a back cover blurb. However, I assure you my plot-points paragraph has five sentences following the exact process I’ve described for you.

So go and give it a try! Once you get the hang of it, I hope you find it as useful as I have. And come back and leave a comment with your own five-sentence plot-points paragraph. Share your blurbs with me. I’d love to hear how this works out for you!



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