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Friday, August 16, 2013

Guest Blog: Stephanie Burkhart: Juliet the muse shares her "never fails" tip when it comes to writing those dreaded Blurbs!

We've done it – we've written a great novel. It's going through edits with a publisher and then we get the email that makes us bite our nails to little bits:

Can you write a back cover blurb no more than 150 words and a 25 word short blurb?

My muse, Juliet, rushes off to get a manicure. There's nothing like a hand soothing manicure to revitalize the inspiration. Newly painted nails always gets Juliet in the mood when she has to help me write a blurb.

Blurb writing is not easy. You've got a novel/novella/short story that you've got to sum up in a couple of paragraphs and you've got to make it sound jazzy so it will entice a reader to buy and read.

I try the following: I introduce the hero/heroine (main characters), state what the challenge is and what's at stake. It seems like a lot, but it all comes down to verb choice for me. After I write an initial rough draft blurb, I circle my verbs and strive to find stronger ones. "Went" and "was" are two that I try to replace. If I have an adverb, I try to eliminate it. Then I examine my adjectives and look for punchier ones – tormented, hunted, captivated, destroyed, ruined, enthralled, enchanted are all stronger words that come to mind.

With a short 25 word blurb, I try to state who my heroine (or hero) is and the challenge they face.

I'd love to hear your tips and what works for you.

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Married with two boys, she lives in California. In her spare time, she's a soccer mom, dance mom, cub & boy scout mom, and a writer. Her story, "Made in America," won 8th place in Mainstream Fiction in the 82nd Annual Writer's Digest Contest this year.

 It's 2011 and compressed natural gas has taken over from the coal producing steam machines of the Victorian Age. Alice Windsor, Princess of York, follows her mischief-making cousin, Edmund of Wales, back to 1851 where Prince Albert is hosting Britain's Great Exhibition.

Alice soon finds herself over her head in trouble. Edmund is determined to help Prince Albert build a dirigible and the Prime Minister appears intent in preventing her from stopping Edmund. Alice knows it's too early for the massive flying machine to take to the air. Complicating matters is the passionate Grayson Kentfield, Earl of Swinton. Alice can't stop her pulse from pounding when she's near him.

Can Alice give her heart to a man from the past while working to stop Edmund from changing history?

2012 Romance of the Year at Deep in the Heart of Romance
2012 Bronze Winner, Romance: Historical, Reader's Favorites Reviews
2011 Hope Chest Reviews Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance Series




Sandy said...

It sounds like an exciting story, Stephanie. I like how you write blurbs, and I'll try your tips.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I actually like writing blurbs. It's like outting a puzzle together. I write what the hero wants, what the heroine wants and what conflict may keep either from getting what they want. I like to keep the whole thing under 50 words.
I think they are more important than excerpts when posting on line because readers usually have limited time to shop for a new book.
Good subject, Steph.

jean hart stewart said...

Thanks,I need all the help I can get with blurbs. Can use those tips well. For reason, I hate, hate hate writing blurbs.

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Sandy, I hope it helps. :)

Sarah, I agree - it's definately like hunting down puzzle pieces. I agree - time is limited so blurbs definately have to be jazzy.

Jean, before you write, try the manicure. ;) Heck, it can't hurt.


Melissa Keir said...

Great Advice. I have to make sure mine is the best, so I'll give your suggestion a try! :)

Cara Marsi said...

Your book sounds great, Stephanie. I love the cover. Blurbs are difficult to write. You've got to get the essence of your story in just a few words. I don't have any trick to writing them. I write, then I rewrite and condense then I rewrite and condense until I have what I hope is good.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Steph, I agree blurbs are so difficult to write. The good blurbs are not those that summarize the story but those that state the conflict, attract interest and prompt us to buy the book. I often read and ponder the blurbs on Amazon to see which would encourage me to buy the book.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Blurb writing is always a challenge for me. I have to truly focus to hone the words down to the crispness I want - and that will tease the reader to want more.

Great post, Steph!

Paula Martin said...

Great advice, Steph. I'm struggling with the blurb of my latest novel right now. Three attempts so far, and it's still not right. I'll get there eventually!

Barbara Edwards said...

Love the story! Nice plot twists The advice on writing a blurb was helpful, too.

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Ladies, I agree - writing a blurb is never easy, but I think Mona really hit the nail on the head - you've got to state the conflict and then say what's at stake. I think that's the crux of "nailing" down a good blurb.

Smiles to all

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