My thoughts on blurbs

Ken Harrison publisher Seventh Window

Ken Harrison
Seventh Window Publications

Keeping it simple is one of those things that’s easy to say and just so damn difficult to do. What makes it even worse is when it’s done well, when nobody appreciates the hard work it took to do it right. Keeping it simple is a thankless job, but it’s something that every writer needs to learn. And yes, there is no better place to learn how to do that than in writing a blurb.

Sometimes I think I should have gone into advertising because blurb writing is one of the parts of my job that I love. It makes you think about story in a whole different light. Some authors get it, while others see their work in too broad a light. Some authors are so enriched by the subtle intricacies of their books that they have a difficult time boiling it down to just one major event. Honestly, I understand where they’re coming from. But myself, I like to get rid of the gritty and let the person interested in reading a title know what to expect. This is what is central to the story.

End with the story question

Every story has a question. If you can find it, then you know how to end your blurb. Take a look at the blurb for Missing Missing by Drake Braxtonby Drake Braxton:

While attending a 20th high school reunion in Alabama, Blain Harrington loses the love of his life in the blink of an eye. He soon realizes that everything is not always as it seems as he sets out on a journey for answers.

What do you do when the world you thought you knew crumbles around you? How do you piece it back together?

The first paragraph tells a little bit about the mystery surrounding the story, while the second tells you what questions you’ll have while reading it. And if you’ve read the book, then you get how the blurb tells the story without giving away the twist. It boils the book down to the essentials.

And here’s a one paragraph blurb for Roids, Rumps & Revenge by Eric Arivin.

It’s bad enough that the Coach Mauler’s steroid abuse is about to be discovered, but when an angry ex-football player finds out about his salacious activities with the other players, things begin to get steamy. What happens when the star college football coach has not just one secret, but two?

Now there’s a final question. Who would not want to have that one answered? I loved that short. And Eric Arvin is a doll.

The drama

You don’t want to end every blurb with a question. After all, not every story warrants the same ending. Some stories are more dramatic and deserve a blurb that represents them. For these stories you need to find the drama and where it comes from. With Scar Tissue by GL Roberts, the drama comes from the era in which it’s set. Take a peek at the blurb.

It was 1976, the year of the .38 Special, the .45 Magnum, Cold War threats and Vietnam Vets returning state side looking for jobs. It was also a time when being gay could get you fired from your job, beat up or killed. This was especially true for Bob Elkins, third year DEA officer who finds himself deeply attracted to CIA newcomer Mike Wells. Although Mike returns Bob’s romantic gestures, he goes cold when it comes time to become intimate. Is Mike playing with Bob or is there something more going on? To find out, Bob must put his reputation and job on the line and risk everything.

The year was 1976, a time when being gay meant you must hide in the closet or risk losing everything.

In Helpless by MJ Pearson, the drama comes from one important line lifted from the novel.

In London during the gross indecency trial of Oscar Wilde, Douglas Shrove finds himself still haunted by memories of his dead lover while skirting violence, blackmail and the affections of two men.

There are two who seek you out

That is what the gypsy told Douglas Shrove a few months after the death of his lover. And the gypsy was right. Two men were vying for his affections.

Mark Goldcrest: an aristocrat like himself; a golden Adonis, cool and discreet.

Warren Scott: a shabbily-dressed denizen of a Bohemian world that Douglas can’t begin to understand.

One is what he seems, and one is not…

But which is which? Both men are attractive and attracted to him…but only one has a dangerous secret.

…and one is dangerous.

One of Douglas Shrove’s admirers could be his salvation—if the other doesn’t destroy him first.

The last line

No matter which style you choose to tell the reader about the story, be sure to give a final line that cinches the deal with the reader. Let them know why you love the story by telling its essence. And that is the blurb

Read more Seventh Window blurbs

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Light and Shadow and other things « GL Roberts Books

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