This month, a new Muse Marquee contest is announced here. It’s the Musings contest, Blurb It! Wasn’t that the name of last year’s contest? Yes, it was so successful, I’ve decided to hold
it again. Because of the contest, I thought it might be timely to discuss what a blurb is, and how to write one.
to a Blurber
you ever watched people browsing in a bookstore? Most of them turn to the back cover of the book they pluck from a shelf,
and read the blurb. A great blurb can lead to a sale.
is a blurb? The Free Online Dictionary defines Blurb as:“A brief publicity notice, as on a book jacket.” That doesn’t help much when a
writer wants guidance in how to write one.
that same spirit of not helping, here’s what a blurb isn’t. It’s not a synopsis or summary of the whole
plot. It walks the line between giving a concise description of the main plot points, and not giving too much away. Its purpose
is to entice a reader to buy. It usually does this in around 250 words.
do you condense tens of thousands of words into a couple of fascinating paragraphs?
at other blurbs. (Amazon is a great resource for this.) How have other writers, or their publishers, created a blurb? Can
you reduce blurbs to a formula? What features do they have in common? Are there any words or types of words you think work
well? Record them for future reference.
study of four blurbs from my current reading list reveals that all are written in the present tense, and start with the main
character’s name. There is:
“Job is a farmer who sees colour in sound.”(A Rhinestone Button by Gail Anderson-Dargatz)
“Pup Morgan is a radical surfer.”(Board
Shorts by Margaret Clark.)
“Elena Michaels is a wanted woman.”(Stolen
by Kelley Armstrong)
“Carlton is an android…” (The Road to Mars by Eric Idle)
blurb of a memoir on my list is different. It starts with a description: “The extraordinary and moving true story of
a modern girl trapped in a gentler age…” (Too Close to the Falls, a Memoir
by Catherine Gildiner)
blurbs include quotes from reviews. Some list awards. The most intriguing ones seem to give just enough about the main character
and her/his place in the plot, before asking a question about a crucial plot moment. Can
Isobelle defeat the evil Dr Death and find true love with Hamish McBlurt? Can Ichabod find his way through the maze at Castle
Haunt and rescue Granny Greywhiskers? Others use an ellipsis to indicate the reader must find out by reading the book.
Dr Death doesn’t know about Isobelle’s black belt in shopping and that’s
a very big mistake… Finding Granny Greywhiskers is just the first of Ichabod’s challenges...
market are you writing for? There are subtle differences between genres in blurbs, so make sure you check out the ones in
your own genre.
language and the voice you use for the blurb must reflect the one you used in the book. Not only do blurbs give
information about the characters and their conflict, they also give a hint as to the flavour of your book.
are no wasted words in any of the blurbs I’ve seen. The fluff’s been edited out. I found few adjectives and fewer
adverbs. What was left was the essence of the story, the sorts of things you would tell a friend if you wanted them to read
the book, but didn’t want to give away too much.
writers believe you should write the blurb before your novel or story. Randy Ingermanson advocates just that in his Snowflake
a great way to clarify your thinking about your writing and to ensure you have crucial plot elements in place.
you write your blurb, don’t forget it will pay dividends to you as a writer. Use that enticing beginning when you’re
interviewed on Oprah. Condense your blurb even further and practise it for when you meet all those agents in elevators who
ask what your book is about. And, of course, enter it into the Musings contest, due May 25. Find out all the details here.
of the Month
read to know we are not alone.” From the movie “Shadowlands”, based on the life of C.S.Lewis.
or more characters *unexpectedly* find one or more physical objects somewhere. Something about the object(s) raises questions
that the characters want answered.
Your challenge: In at least 1,000 but no more than 5,000 words, write a creative,
compelling, and well-crafted story that clearly uses the premise. If you aren’t sure whether your
idea fits our premise, you can ask us at Questions@OnThePremises.com.
Stories about getting
into college An amazing statistic is that there are over three million high school seniors who graduate each year
and more than half of them apply to college. There are many books published that tell you how to get into college but this
book will be different. This book will be the one that provides emotional support to both students and their parents. The
deadline date for story submissions is June 30, 2008.
Stories about high
school The high school years are some of the most difficult but, at the same time, some
of the best. You will be able to relate to and learn from the stories in this book. They will make you laugh, make you cry
and let you know that others are having the same experiences in high school that you are. You are not alone. The deadline
for story submissions is June 30, 2008.
Stories about middle school The
years in middle school can be tough and wonderful - all at the same time. There are so many changes going on and so many things to deal with. The stories in this book will be about the issues going on
in your life - the things that you deal with everyday - and they will inspire you. The deadline for story submissions is June