Monday, February 24, 2014

Attack of the 200 Word Blurb (Part One)

My mission this week—should I choose to accept it—is to write an actual, serious blurb for Effigy.

I set this goal at the beginning of February to be finished by the end of February (so naturally, I have waited until the end of February to start).

That's right—it's still not finished. How is such a thing possible, you may be asking yourself, because haven't I been working on this for an embarrassingly long time? I know—a roomful of monkeys with typewriters could have written a better blurb by now, and they don't even know what the story's about!


So what's my excuse? Well, I'll tell you.

I really just don't want to do it.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it. I've researched blurb writing tips, read articles on the subject, and spent a lot of time at bookstores and at home (which, really, could be its own bookstore) reading actual back-of-the-book blurbs. I've written draft upon draft of serious blurbs as I try to find that one right hook that will make the rest flow. I haven't found it yet; I haven't found anything that I feel good about for very long.

Plus, there's this thing where I keep taking the blurb off the list of Things To Do. Sometimes I get frustrated and need to walk away for a while. Sometimes I get busy with "life stuff" (translation: family and day job) and all writing-related whatevers get set aside for a while.

But when it is on the list of Things To Do, I tend to procrastinate and spend my time writing fake blurbs that I would never use in a million years. You know, kind of like this:

"This book is awesome! You should buy it!"

"Buying this book will make you cool. You want to be cool, don't you?"

"This book has sex in it! Lots of sex! Well, okay, maybe not lots, but some. There's some sex in it. Which is still sex, so I'm not lying or anything."

"Um, so there are, like, these people, and they do...things, and stuff happens. Then they do, you know, other things, and other stuff happens..."

"Read this book. It probably won't be the worst thing you've ever read. Probably."

One day I wrote a haiku blurb:

ancient evil looms
can Haleine save her people
and not lose herself

which was followed by a limerick blurb:

There once was a queen named Haleine
who thought battling evil a pain.
She found support in her lover
and a small pegasus who hovered
And soon she became evil's bane...

because that's just the kind of dork I am. Clever, huh?

But my favorite silly blurb was suggested by the amazing Callie Leuck. It goes a little something like this (warning: it may not be exactly suitable for young children or work):

Kick-ass lady! Jerky bad guy you want to punch in the face! UNICORNS, MOTHERF*&KER! Read this book.

I think she really captured here everything that needed to be captured. Which is why I printed out a copy and tacked it to the storyboard. Reading it makes me laugh.

But anyway, as much fun as the silly blurbs are and have been, the time has come for me to buckle down and knock this thing out for real. Final edits are finished (in theory, anyway). A cover is coming (in theory, anyway), and I'm going to need something to put on the back of it. Something serious. And as I am lacking promotional plugs from Oprah or George R.R. Martin or Stephen King or Joss Whedon—or anyone, for that matter, famous or otherwise—I'll have to go with the blurb.



Hence my goal for the week. Come back on Wednesday for part two of this riveting series when I share with you (for your consideration and possible ridicule) my attempts at a serious blurb.

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by today. It's much appreciated. Hope y'all have a great week.

44 comments:

  1. i've been pronouncing her name wrong! thanks for the limerick to help with that! and those poems are the closest you've come. you're already half way there! can't wait to hear it!

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  2. I actually think you've got the essence of the blurb in your haiku and in Callie's idea.

    I once heard an author say that to help write the blurb - or maybe it was the query? - have someone else read your work and tell YOU what THEY think it's about. It might surprise you. We're often too close to our work to see it clearly. (I haven't tried this yet but I probably will when the time comes.) Good luck!

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  3. Your silly blurbs are hilarious!!
    I bet writing those has given you some ideas for the real one though. You can do it!

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  4. The best ever tip I got on blurb writing was go to amazon and READ other blurbs. It helps more so than reading a how-to book.

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  5. I think you're onto something with the second blurb - I want to be cool!

    I don't think there is anything a how-to can tell you that isn't covered by this: What's the book about?

    Lol, I know that is a gigantic simplification, but ultimately, that's what it's all about!

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    Replies
    1. Well, sure, if you want to be all reasonable about it...

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  6. Replies
    1. I'm happy to know I'm not alone in feeling that way. Other people seem to do it so easily; I envy them.

      Delete
  7. I feel your pain. I really do.
    But...you made me laugh out loud with those. I swear. Are you sure you shouldn't be writing comedy?
    Don't write your blurb like 'they' tell you too. Write what you want. How many times did you hear of an author breaking the rules and that's what got them noticed?
    Heather

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    1. I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be writing comedy. I like drama too much, I think. But, you know, I also thought I should have candy for breakfast this morning, so what do I know?

      Thanks for the advice!

      Delete
  8. Love what you got so far.

    One of the best blurbs I've seen is for the Hunger Games, where it starts with ruins and ends with love.
    http://justicefortruth.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/backofbook.jpg

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    Replies
    1. I know...I've written some incredibly useful stuff here. =)

      I like the Hunger Games blurb, too. I spend a lot of time looking at that one.

      Delete
  9. Definitely go for the last one. :D

    What helped me when conceptualizing the blurb was to completely remove the "buy me" thought process (something that makes me squirmy--soooo not a salesperson). Instead, I viewed the blurb as my ideal version of my story. Epic love, bone-freezing villains--lay it on thick. But write exactly how your story would be summarized in its most glorious form.

    Then, honestly evaluate where your story might not live up to your perfect vision. 1) Tweak the blurb so you're not lying, or 2) maybe go back and make your story match your blurb. (Most would always recommend #2, but there are honestly times when a story will never be all the things we wished it was in our heads, because the head version is using our "reader's imagination" to fill in blanks. Which is what your readers will do, too. :)

    And speaking of, another trick, is to imagine what your ideal reader would say about your book. Meaning, if you got the perfect review, what would be the things highlighted in it that you'd be like, "Hell yes! They got it!"

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    Replies
    1. I really want to go for the last one, too.

      Thank you for the advice. It's much appreciated.

      Delete
  10. Your silly blurbs are going to be great promotions in and of themselves one day!

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  11. LOL - Callie's is a winner. Save the poetry ones. You can use those later.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, Callie's is great. And I will save the poetry. I have no idea what use they might be ever, but I always save everything I write. Or, most everything.

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  12. *LOL* I love Callie's! That's great. I also like the limerick. Definitely save that one. I hate writing blurbs too. I find toilets to scrub before I do mine.

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    1. I love Callie's too. I really want to use it.

      And I hear you on the housework thing. My house will actually be clean again by the end of the week.

      Delete
  13. "UNICORNS, MOTHERF*&KER!"

    That's it. I'm totally sold.


    I've had so much trouble thinking up blurbs, so there's no advice I can give.

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    Replies
    1. I know, right? I, too, was totally sold on the book after I read that.

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  14. I HAAAAATE blurbs. Not as much as synopses, but close. I write one that I think is good, and then a week later I look at it again and go "What the f*** is this s***?"

    Good luck.

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    Replies
    1. That's what I keep doing too. But I keep circling around the same two ideas. If only I could make one of them work.

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  15. That haiku is good. Are you sure you can't use it? It hits the high points and does it in a very compact way. (The limerick is good, too.) Perhaps use those as your starting point...?

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    1. I know there's no such thing as a hard and fast rule whereas writing is concerned, but I really don't think I should use a haiku or limerick as a blurb. They do put forth ideas I'm trying to gracefully incorporate in a proper prose blurb. Just haven't figured out how yet.

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  16. I like your haiku blurb. (Totally spelled haiku wrong and chrome new what I meant. LOL) I've been tackling blurbs again too. (Why are they so hard?????)

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    Replies
    1. They have to be hard, I guess. We're writers; we're supposed to suffer for our art, right?

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  17. Is it weird that I like the haiku and find it the most intriguing? I wrote my first attempt at a blurb a few months ago and once I sat down and stopped avoiding it, it wasn't all that bad. You'll do great!

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    Replies
    1. Well, I haven't done great so far, but there's still time. Maybe I can turn it around.

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  18. I just truly, deeply feel that you should definitely mention unicorns.

    On a more serious note, I think the haiku one is heading in the right direction. Maybe you should write some more haiku ones and see where it gets you? It seems to be your spirit writing-form.

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    Replies
    1. Sad, but true. Some day I'll end up writing a novel composed of nothing but haiku. Actually, that sounds awesome.

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  19. Ha! Callie's rocks. And your limerick was great, too. Good luck with your blurb writing. Blerg, indeed.

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    Replies
    1. Callie's does rock. I'm considering using it and just calling it a day.

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  20. The blurbs for my stories on Amazon are only written when I'm actually already submitting the story there to be published, and I'm like, 'dammit, I was supposed to have had a blurb!'

    But it usually works out, I guess, actually, no one really buys my stories, maybe I should work on them.

    But, I do write fake query letters for the stuff I intend to submit to agents. Which I still do, don't judge me. And those are awesome, I don't think I'll ever share them, because they are probably awful enough in content to get me blacklisted from the community, should they see the light of day.

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    1. I'm pretty sure my blurb drafts will get me blacklisted when they hit the light of day tomorrow. They're not very good. But I hope they can get better.

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  21. I think you should definitely go with the Limerick. It rocks in a lilting, understated way. But I think you should end it with a nod to Callie.

    **SERIOUSLY, MOTHERFUCKERS!!! UNICORNS!!!!**

    Gives it just the classy punch it needs.

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  22. I've never enjoyed writing blurbs, either. They're always such torture! Love all the fake ones you shared, though. I could never be that creative!

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