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Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Accursed Blurb



The B Word: Blurb. It makes me tense to even type out that word. I loathe, despise and curse The Blurb.

I've just finished writing 89,738 words and now I'm supposed to come up with 100 or less that capture the essence of the book?! I remind myself: There Are No Second Chances At First Impressions. A book’s cover is Part One of the first impression. The back cover blurb (BCB) is Part Two. What would happen to sales if books were shelved with the back cover showing front? Would a potential customer read it before looking at the cover or would they flip the book around to see if the cover made the blub worth reading?

I’d love to be able to write a blurb so totally enthralling the person holding my book doesn’t give a hoot about the hot guy or captivating scenery on its cover. Not going to happen but it’s a nice dream.

If these guys were on the cover, would you even care about the blurb?!

Finally the book is finished, the latest for me, Almost Denied, fifth in my Almost series, all historicals. 82,687 words which is on the light side for my historicals. Three chapters before I typed the last word that would signify The End, I got that heavy feeling that comes with unhappily anticipating having to write the accursed blurb. Not for the first time I think,  I wish someone else would write it for me. I’d gleefully pay a handsome sum for someone to take on the task, but that would require reading the book to know what to write and who could I get to do that?

So, I take up my pencil and do a word dump. First things that come to mind. Salient points about the book. It went something like this:
   Gianna LeBon, single woman, pretends to be a widow to keep her property. Must protect Pascal, the boy she adopted and Martine, her best friend, and Laura who’s fled from her evil husband, while chasing off all the idiotic men determined to buy her home as extra property for a resort being built at the seaside. Biggest of the idiot men, Colonel/Mr. Ross Rayne. Doesn’t trust anything about him and has no clue what to do about how she wants to hate him but can’t.
   Ross is just doing a favor for Decimus, the friend who saved his life, and whose father is building St.-Leonard-on-Sea, England's first resort. Trying to get Mrs. Gianna LeBon to agree to sell her property to enlarge the resort is futile. The woman is beyond stubborn. He really doesn’t want to like her but figures that won’t be a problem because he still isn’t over the death of his wife five years ago.

Gah! A third grader in her first creative writing class could do better!
I lecture myself: Remember, Polly. Your book is about people. Not the setting, or historical facts or historical locations. P E O P L E.

Blurb Take Two:
   No one is going to take Gianna LeBon’s land and home from her. Not any man, not for any price, especially the suspiciously charming Colonel Ross Rayne. Relying on the ruse that she is married may not be enough to save her precious home or the family she is desperate to protect.
   Ross knows how to deceive an enemy but he’s never had to use those skills on a woman. He regrets agreeing to undertake a mission of procuring the LeBon’s property. If Mr. LeBon would show himself then maybe Ross would have a fighting chance at success, but instead he’s stuck with his pig-headed wife.  

Grrr, worse than the first! Nothing to stimulate curiosity or wet a reader’s appetite to even read the title page much less look at the front cover. Only point in my favor is that the first sentence is a little interesting. A blurb's first sentence should be like a pick-up line. Not the tired, Hey-baby-haven’t-I-seen-you-somewhere-before? pick-up line, but something clever and engaging. Starting off with Gianna sounding fierce isn’t too bad. And what about having a question in there? Adding a question or two to the blurb could be tantalizing, right? Make the reader wonder what’s really going on between the covers. (The book’s cover, not the bedroom covers)

BCB Take Three:
   No man, no matter how wealthy or beguiling, is going to take Gianna LeBon’s property from her. Who do those men think they are, trying to lure her away from her property by offering more money than she'd see in a lifetime?
   What was Ross thinking when he agreed to this madness? Never again would he assume command of a task that spelled disaster from the onset. No piece of land is worth this headache.

 Horridly horrid. Last ditch effort as I curse the blurb.......

Gianna LeBon's property is not for sale. Period.
Ross Rayne has had it with mulish women.
They'll figure it out. Or not.

How do you write a blurb? Share your secrets, please!


#RB4U #Romance

18 comments:

E. Ayers said...

Not a secret but how I do it. I write the whole thing out. Usually 4-5 paragraphs to tell story of the book. Then I begin to slice all the non-important stuff until I have a few sentences. It's usually pretty rough by now. Then I look at how to give some zing to what I do have left. Slowly the blurb emerges.

But I'm with you. I hate writing the blurb! I think the more we do the better we get, but some stories just make blurb writing as appealing as hens' teeth.

Sandy said...

I wrote three tag lines and two blurbs and sent them to my editor to let her choose which ones she thought were the best. I think she changed them a bit. lol

Great post Polly. I hate blurbs, too.

Polly McCrillis said...

A lot of work and words you go through, E. Ayers, but it makes sense to have a bigger piece to pare down to just what you want. Thanks for the tip!

Polly McCrillis said...

I've done that too, Sandy, sent my editor blurb options. Generally she doesn't change much, probably because she's of so happy that she didn't have to write them!

Melissa Keir said...

I usually have one paragraph for each character (hero and heroine) and end with a question to "hook".

I took a class on blurb writing and find that the most important thing is to give the reader a tease for your story.

That being said... I like your second blurb best. Here's what I did... use it or not... :)


No one is going to take Gianna LeBon’s land and home from her. Not any man, not for any price, especially the charming Colonel Ross Rayne. And pretending to be married may not be enough to save it or her.
Ross knows how to deceive an enemy but he’s never had to use those skills on a woman. He regrets agreeing to undertake a mission of procuring the LeBon’s property. Instead of dealing with Mr. LeBon, he’s stuck with his pig-headed wife.

Can the charming Colonel win against a determined woman fighting for her home and family? Or will they be forced to walk away from their only chance at happiness?

Polly McCrillis said...

Melissa, great last paragraph! The second blurb is my favorite too. The most succinct with a dash of levity. Thanks for your input!I can use all the help I can get.....

Cara Marsi said...

I write and revise, write and revise and whittle the blurb down. Then I send it to my online critique group. Then I send it to the editor I hire who fixes it again. Lots of work.

Tina Donahue said...

I swear, I'd rather write a whole series than one blurb. And a synopsis - ugh.

Rose Gorham said...

Great post Polly. I'm in awe of writers who can write a grab-your-attention blurb and synopsis...

Polly McCrillis said...

Cara, I like the idea of sending my botched blurb attempts to an online critique group. I don't belong to one, but probably should!

Polly McCrillis said...

I so agree with you, Tina. Blurbs and Synopses are the worst. At least with a synopsis you get to use more words!

Polly McCrillis said...

I'm in awe of them too, Rose. With the big name authors I wonder if they write those catchy blurbs or does someone do it for them?

jean hart stewart said...

I'm with you...hate, hate, hate the blurb. GRRRRR!!!!!!!!

Paris said...

It might sound simplistic but I have a three prong approach. Who are the characters, What do they want and why are they in danger of not getting it? Everything seems to be attached to these three questions and if I get that down, the hook usually shows up. That's the best case scenario:)

Polly McCrillis said...

Grrrr is right Jean. There seem to be a large number in our writing families who agree with us!

Polly McCrillis said...

Paris, when it comes to Blurbs, nothing is simplistic! You use the basic Who, What and Why which is what the darn things are all about. Just have to get rid of the chaff to get to the meat of what people want to know about our books. Sounds so easy!

Gerri Bowen said...

Polly, you had me with the first attempt. Knowing how horrible it is to compose a blurb, I got what you were trying to convey. If there are any secrets, I'd like to know them, too! Wonderful post!

Polly McCrillis said...

Gerri, when I learn "the secret" I'll be sure to share. Seems like I'm one of many who feel the same way about blurbs. A good word for the blasted things; has an appropriate "bleech" component to it:-)

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