Growing A Blurb

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Thoughts On A Book Blurb

Growing A Blurb

Last time, I promised to report back if I got any feedback on my blurb.  And…I got feedback…so here I am.

But, let’s back up a little.  In an earlier post I mentioned Beth Bacon’s suggestion of writing blurbs in four parts:  (1)  Situation; (2) Problem;  (3) Hopeful Possibility;  and (4) Mood.

And I did…and hated it.  Someone commented that each paragraph felt like the end…and wished it had.

Ouch.

I like stories with white space…breaks instead of the dreaded wall of words.  And…look at the first try…two blocks of equal size.  If reader eye patterns really follow an F, they will panic at those blocks, and skim, maybe to the next book.

And, instead of easing readers in, we jump straight to the good stuff…just like I did with early versions of my WIP, never giving readers time to ground themselves.  Finally, I had to add a prologue.  So, why not do the same in the blurb, laying out the backstory in a minimum of words.

Here…take a look.

First Blurb
Latest Blurb
(0)  Prologue (0)  Prologue
Ships with great white sails glide along the coast…explorers scout the Cape’s deep forests and virgin lands…then Imperial Colonists arrive, bent on carving out Avandia.…and collide with the Shon Nation guarding ancient homelands.…sparking three savage wars in a generation, leaving shattered spirits and broken bodies strewn across the Cape.

…until the Shon Chief imposes peace on the Duke of Avandia…forcing marriage to his daughter, Deheya.

Three years later…

(1)  The Situation
Envied by those beyond the Castle, Deheya, daughter of the Shon Chief, wife of the Duke of Avandia, lives a fairy tale encircled by servants and court ladies.  This mother-to-be, with her charming accent and quick wit, enchants High Borns and commoners alike, colonists from a distant Empire, enticing them to venture outside their walled cities and hamlets into closer ties with Shon roaming deep forests and rich, virgin lands, erecting their tepees in a world called Icinunpa Thipi, Second Home.
(1)  The Situation
Deheya appears to live a fairy tale, surrounded by servants and ladies-in-waiting.  This mother-to-be enchants Colonists with her quick wit and charming accent.  Challenging rigid feudal codes, she invites them beyond their walled cities, to roam the lands with the Shon, pitch tepees where they wish, using only what they need.
(2)  The Problem
But union is more illusion than fact.  For, with Avandia’s bloody defeat in the Shon second war, she lives out her father’s price for peace…marriage to the Duke…plunging her into loveless marriage and a snake-pit of intrigue.  With her son’s birth approaching, opponents of the forced peace emerge from shadows, even in the Castle, naming her Shon Witch while they rearm, while Shon whisper darkly of treason and dishonor and sharpen spears.
(2)  The Problem
But, with her baby’s approaching birth, unity proves a cruel chimera. Castle intrigue reaches a fever pitch when shadowy opponents challenge Deheya’s loveless marriage.  Meanwhile, beyond the walls, Shon mutter darkly of treason and dishonor and sharpen weapons.
(3)  The Hopeful Possibility
With one foot in each world, she fights for her identity while inspiring hope of a future where her son unites both peoples.
(3)  The Hopeful Possibility
With one foot in each world, Deheya fights for her unborn son and his promise of peace.
(4)  The Mood
Awash with the clash of cultures battling for survival, Moccasins On A Marble Stair explores duty’s cost intertwined with the power of a mother’s love amid loyalty and betrayed friendship.
(4)  The Mood
Against the backdrop of two cultures grappling for survival on a world called Second Home, loyalty and friendship count for little as Moccasins On A Marble Stair explores the power of a mother’s love pitted against relentless duty.

So…let’s look at each part with a clear eye.

(1) The Situation — Several ideas migrated up into the Prologue, painting the global situation, letting us focus on our MC, hinting at her character, and her role in that world.

(2) The Problem — We remain tightly focused on her and the great event ahead of her, the birth of her son, and the forces opposing her.

(3) The Hope — We hold our tight focus on the MC and her unborn son.

(4) The Mood — We step back, drawing on the larger canvas, hinting at genre, and theme.

What does it all mean?

If only I knew?

But I think I learned two lessons.  First…a prologue helps, like it or not.  And, vary the focus, maybe starting wide with the prologue, and zooming steadily further in with the situation, problem, and hope, and then pop back out to the wide focus again for the mood.

Or not.  Ha.

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2 thoughts on “Growing A Blurb

  1. My knee jerk reaction is to say that having the mood stated out right may be a mistake. Mood is a subtle thing, it comes out in the tone of the blurb, the blurb of a funny novel will make me chuckle, that kind of thing. My suggestion would be to look at the blurb of some novels that you know the tone/mood of and see how that comes through in the blurb.

    • Thank you for offering honest and genuine feedback. You’ve given me a lot to think about. And I expect my blurb will morph even more. 🙂

      Before I talk about the MOOD thing, let me offer up something about style. I wrote the blurb in present tense even though my WIP is simple past because many seem to write that way, and it offers the hope of immediacy and energy…so I took it.

      And I agree with your thoughts that the entire Blurb ought to offer hints of the WIP…and that’s what I tried for. But, other than tense, I stayed pretty much with the WIP’s style, guarding against over-use of the 300 most common words in English language, the verb BE, reducing filtering, and pronouns. I hope readers don’t suffer whiplash.

      About (4) MOOD. That’s Beth Bacon’s term, by the way, not mine. Even though I wish she’d used a different term, I can see she’s offering up a get-off-the-stage wrap up and invitation to look inside. So, maybe, it should be (4) INVITATION or COME-ON. So, what did I try for?

      “…two cultures grappling for survival…” reminds readers there are two groups vying for control, both convinced they’re right…and our MC caught in the middle, reluctant to turn away from her people. So…a tough choice.

      “…a world called Second Home…” signals we aren’t on Earth, so this must be a fantasy. I’ve wondered if it’s too subtle. And, it also provokes a question…where’s the original home?

      “…loyalty and friendship count for little…” sounds like uncertainty and shifting sands, ripe for treachery and double-dealing.

      “…the power of a mother’s love pitted against relentless duty…” is my WIP’s theme. People interested in that might read on.

      Keep writing. 🙂

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