View Full Version : Tips on Blurb Writing

02-23-2012, 04:40 AM
Someone in a thread that shall not be thought of again mentioned he'd like to see a treatise on good blurb writing. I don't pretend to be an expert at blurbs--far from it--but I've internalized lots of info from other people who are really good at it. So even if I can't always emulate their advice, I thought I could pass it along.

Good blurbs generally contain three elements:

I believe someone's got this better explained somewhere in QLH, but here's my stab.
-What does the protag want?
-What's in the way of his getting it?
-What happens if he doesn't get it?

This works pretty well, I think, as a formula to follow. I generally only run into problems with it when I'm trying to blurb an antagonist-driven story, like a horror story or something. In that case, usually the protagonist (while having other wants and motivations) is mostly motivated to get the antagonist away from him and go back to his normal life.

So in this case, I've tried answering these questions instead.
-What terrible thing has the antagonist done to the protagonist?
-Why is the antagonist doing it?
-What happens to protagonist if the antagonist can't be stopped?

It's really the same thing, except the motivations are moved to the antagonist and put second, because generally you want to give your protagonist the first line of a blurb.

Holly Lisle recommends you cover:
Protagonist vs. Antagonist in a setting with a twist.

My final tip would be to also consider the reason you wrote the book in the first place. What gave you the idea? Sometimes, those little what-if questions really sum up the nugget of your book idea well. For instance, some of my what-if questions have been things like, "What if two people were destined to be together, but they hated each other?" or "What if the anti-christ and the messiah fell in love?" or "What if I was literally stuck in this small town and monsters were keeping me from leaving?" etc.

While you don't want to write your blurb in the form of what-if questions, they can help shape it.

Anyone else want to share tips?

02-23-2012, 05:35 AM
Good tips, thanks for posting. I am working on this now, and the three questions are great for refocusing the mess I have now.

02-23-2012, 06:47 AM
Thanks, Valerie.

02-23-2012, 07:14 AM
Yeah, I suck at blurb writing almost as hard as I suck at writing query letters so this is a welcome thread imnsho.

Old Hack
02-23-2012, 11:27 AM
That's very useful--thank you.

That short piece of prose has a lot to achieve: it has to tell your prospective readers about your book, and make it sound interesting and exciting and intriguing enough to make them want to pay real money for it. It's the only chance you get to catch many of them. So it's really important to get it right.

You're all welcome to post your blurbs in QLH: just remember to make sure you let people know it's a blurb and not a query letter, and point out that you're self-publishing so that the good people there know the context.