How do you Approach Blurb Writing?

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Happy Monday, Everybody! I hope that everyone had a nice, relaxing weekend, unlike yours truly, who recently discovered that:

  1. After years of having no trouble with the sun, I now have trouble with the sun. Hence, le sun rash.
  2. I’m allergic to sun screen.

As you can imagine, it’s been an interesting few days. To keep things from getting complicated, I’m just telling people that I’m allergic to the sun and staying in for the next week or so. I don’t mind. I can get caught up on Orange is The New Black and finish a little something called that doggone novel of mine.

And speaking of the doggone novel, I’ve been messing around with my book blurb. I thought, “This story is pretty straight forward. I shouldn’t have any problems boiling it down to its essence and summarizing the plot in just a few paragraphs.”

I would have done better if I’d have just slapped myself. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the blurb is on its way, but it still reeks of first draftness. One thing that’s helping me is something I learned while sitting in on a pitching session at a writers conference: give them the meat first. Prior to this, I always thought of blurbs like I did my story: save the climax for later. But listening to agents give feedback on several pitches, they all had the same thing to say: “You know, my ears perked up when you got to the part about ________________. Why didn’t you start there???”

I thought, “Start with the hooky stuff? Really?” So I’m keeping that in mind as I draft my blurb. I know the basics:

1. Give the reader a sense of beginning, middle, and end, all without giving the story away.
2. Don’t be too elusive. I obviously don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there are certain details that won’t ruin the story that will make a reader go, “Oooh! That sounds intriguing!”
3. Don’t introduce too many characters because I don’t have that much time and readers might get confused.
4. Don’t cram in everything I know about the novel, including the backstory that didn’t even make the cut.
5. Leave on a note that hints at something juicy; some conflict, some danger–all without giving away all the goods.

But, like any writer, my problem is this: I find it difficult to be objective when it comes to my own stuff–which is one of the reasons I never edit my own novels. Or cut my own hair.  I will say this: writing blurbs is waaay easier for me than writing a logline, which I’ll never try again unless world peace depends on it. Boil down the essence of my novel in just one sentence??? Cue the beads of sweat on my forehead.

So keep your fingers crossed for me! I might even have something to share with you guys in the next couple of weeks:)

What about others? How do you feel about writing blurbs? Love it? Hate it? Easy peasy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

27 thoughts on “How do you Approach Blurb Writing?

  1. Hi Quanie!

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sun allergy. What a bummer?! Judging from the comments, though. It sounds like you’ve gotten great suggestions.

    Regarding the blurbs, this post is SO on time for me. I’m going to writer’s conference in September and I’m working on my one-sheet, blurbs, etc. So I’m printing out this post and comments and using them as a guide. To date, I’ve just used books that I like and tried to follow their structure on blurbs.

    As always thanks for being such an awesome resources, Quanie!
    Simone recently posted..3 Ways to Keep Anger from Ruining RelationshipsMy Profile

  2. Blurbs and taglines are bleeding difficult! The good thing about having a blog with writers and reader-readership is that when you ask them for help, they show up. I finally fine-tuned my tagline today. And will work on the back cover text next. Good luck with yours, Quanie ~ Looking forward to reading it soon.

  3. Blurbs can be tricky but after some practice I am much better at them. I struggled a bit with the first two, but the others came easily. Now I actually write the blurbs before I finish the story. If I wait until I finish, I find too many things from the story screaming at me. If I did it before, I can keep the main plot in my mind as the focus for the blog. I think that’ll only work for plotters, though.
    Chrys Fey recently posted..How to do a Cover RevealMy Profile

    • I’ve read of other authors doing the same thing, but my stories change so much it probably wouldn’t do me any good to write my blurb before the story since I’d have to change it anyway. Heck, sometimes I don’t even know what the story is about until at least the third draft, lol.
      Quanie recently posted..How do you Approach Blurb Writing?My Profile

  4. Oog, I know how you feel. I’m still editing my current book, but I’m already trying to hash out the query and such in my head, and it’s not going well. >_< I know I'll need to leave out the background details in the query, but there's a lot I need to fit in. So not looking forward to doing this.

    As for an actual blurb, when people ask me what the book's about, I just tell them "airships, blackmail, and ancient magic", and that seems to work, but it's not exactly how I'd try to sell the thing. Gah!
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..For Love of Editing.My Profile

  5. Those are some great tips.

    Honestly, what helped me write my first blurb was grabbing a couple of books off my shelf (same genre) that had good blurbs and reading them. I didn’t copy them, of course, but I thought about my story and aimed for something similar in style. After a final (painful LOL) crit from a CP, I came up with something workable. 🙂
    Melissa Maygrove recently posted..Cover Reveal – Precious AtonementMy Profile

  6. I didn’t find out I was allergic to the sun until a few years ago…a black woman with rosacea, who knew it was possible? Lots of prescription creams later, I’m finally on my way back to clear skin. It’s a pain and is not only exacerbated by sun, but by heat in general. It’s been my excuse not to over exert myself with exercise. I hope your’s clears up soon!

    I pretty good at writing a first draft of a blurb, but definitely need a second set of eyes to look at it to really make it what it needs to be. Such is the life of a writer. Just do your best, give it to us to tear apart, then do it again!
    Faith Simone recently posted..This Then Is the Work of the SpiritMy Profile

  7. Oh no!! What a bummer! Maybe the problem is the sunscreen, and not the sun? You could try a really gentle, all-natural sunscreen and see if that helps. I bet Burt’s Bees has a good one, but so would your local health food store/natural market.

    So yes, I’m with you on this. Blurbs are challenging, because they require you to act as if you’d never read your own work (which you’ve read at least 75,987 times,) or at least to act as if you’re totally objective about and can step back and see it super clearly. Um, no. I always rewrite mine a million times – and then I get outside opinions.

    LOGLINES ARE THE WORST. The absolute worst!!
    Liz Blocker (@lizblocker) recently posted..Your Summer Reading ListMy Profile

  8. haha! I get SO excited about the blurb part until I do it! Then I run into ALL these problems. I swear pitching the concept in a few sentences to CPs/my agent, was more torturous than writing the whole novel! I found as I wrote more of the novel the blurb became a little easier to write, but overall it still sounded lackluster. And I get allergic to the sun sometimes too. It depends on the UV rays that day, how strong they are, etc…when I was a teen on vacations in Hawaii–do NOT ask…it was so embarrassing! I was covered head to toe in a red bumpy rash and my parents made me wear zinc oxide they bought from the gift shop–except it was pink! I sat on the beach at fifteen smeared in pink. It was awful lol

  9. Blurb writing can be a challenge. Loglines more so. One thing that has helped me was reading a book by Nicola Morgan on writing the dreaded synopsis: She suggests starting with a logline, then blurb, then synopsis BEFORE writing the book. That’s no help when you’ve already written your novel, but extremely helpful when starting the next one.

    What I’m struggling with right now is what to keep in, what to leave out and how to turn up the intrigue of the blurb. Good luck with yours!
    Reese Ryan recently posted..Stepping Outside the Lines (or in Pursuit of a Bigger Hat and a Smaller Butt)My Profile

  10. Gads, dear woman! I’d shrivel up and die without sunshine 🙂 But honestly, there are folks who suffer from the type allergy you describe. Floppy hats and long sleeves in the garden!
    Blurbs! Ugh. The best ones I’ve ever come up with were for stories I’ve yet to write! Maybe that there is the pearl in the oyster; before you wrote the first paragraph, what was on your mind? Think of it as a headline for a sensational story!
    diedre recently posted..Star-Crossed TreasureMy Profile

    • I’ve thought about doing that, too! But my stories change so much as I write. Heck, most of the time, I don’t even know what the book is about until I’m done with the second draft, lol. And I probably should invest in one of those floppy hats. It’s so hot here in Charleston, but long sleeves might have to do for a while.
      Quanie recently posted..How do you Approach Blurb Writing?My Profile

  11. I feel the same about loglines too. I just can’t seem to do it. Kristen Lamb wrote a great post about loglines and I still don’t get it. Loglines eludes me. But I’m a bit better with blurbs, although I can spruce up the ones I created for my work in progress novels. I found an old post by an author that’s helped me so far. It stated how you should introduce the hero, the situation/conflict, the goal, the villain and the disaster (possible fate of the hero if the villain gets in the way of his/her goal).
    Lidy recently posted..Taking A Break and Engaging on WattpadMy Profile

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