Many authors dread writing blurbs, but the process doesn’t have to be painful. Here are 15 tips to keep in mind while crafting a blurb that will grab readers:
Goal, Motivation, Conflict
- By the end of the blurb, the reader should know the character’s goal. What does he/she/it want?
- By the end of the blurb, the reader should also know what the character’s motivation. Why is the character trying to reach their goal?
- By the end of the blurb, the reader should know the main conflict in the story. Why is their character unable to easily reach their goal?
If you can’t answer these three questions about your story, you may need to give it some thought (or a rewrite).
Beginning and End…of the Blurb
- Open your blurb with something interesting. This is particularly important for first in series. Tell what it is about the character that makes us want to read about them. Maybe they’re magical. Is your story about an average Joe? Then maybe they have a unique problem. Whatever the story is about, the first plot point, that is probably your opening. Just make sure it’s relevant, and not thrown in for the sake of hooking your prey. Gimmicks make for cranky readers.
- End your blurb with the stakes. What happens if they don’t succeed?
- Do not include the ending of the book. That information belongs in the synopsis for agents and publishers, not the blurb for your readers.
- Try to leave something clearly unanswered. What wish will destroy him? Why is the end of the world her fault?
Other Important Tips
- Don’t use too many names. The main character and one other should be sufficient. No matter how cleverly worded your blurb is, too many names will almost inevitably confuse or annoy readers. This includes place names, too. At best, readers will skim over them. Not the way you want to start your reader-author relationship.
- Similarly, don’t throw in too many details. Does it really matter if Aunt Mae had once been a pirate? That’s interesting, for sure, but if it’s not part of the plot, then it should be left for readers to discover in the story.
- Blurbs are usually written in third person present.
- Stay away from gimmicky first-person blurbs. This tactic rarely works.
- Use strong verbs. It isn’t eating; it’s devouring.
- Aim for precise language by avoiding unnecessary uses of words like it, that, thing.
- Blurbs generally do best around 200-250 words long. Even exceptionally lengthy and complicated books can be summed up in about that many words.
- Have someone edit your blurb. This is your introduction to readers, so correcting grammar and typos is particularly important.
Blurbs take practice. Once you figure it out, they will become easier with each one. Go over these tips, brew some coffee, and then try again. Often, authors feel like their blurbs are confusing because they don’t have enough information, but in reality, they usually have too much. In short, readers won’t need every little detail explained in the blurb if you don’t include every detail to begin with.
If you’re still having a difficult time, start with your goal, motivation, and conflict, and then build out from there. If those three questions can be answered, you won’t need much else.
What other tips would you suggest for writing a blurb? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.