First of all, what’s the difference between a synopsis and a blurb?
A synopsis covers the entire plot. A blurb catches the reader onto the hook and reels them in. The point is, an author writes a blurb, and the reader a synopsis (well, technically they could anyway). I write blurbs for NaNoWriMo, even though it says synopsis on the site; you can write synopses if you want to, but I don’t know where my plot is going yet, so I am not. :) (Don’t worry: I’ll do a post on synopses after NaNoWriMo).
Writing a blurb is hard, especially when, I have found, you have no idea what the plot actually is. So this is a post for all you pantsers out there (or, indeed, if you’re not). You can’t write what you don’t know – yet.
Here are some of my tips to write a blurb:
- Know the plot – the first few chapters at least. Pick up the closest book next to you. Does it tell you the ending? The climax? Even the first climax? No. Because you only need enough to hook the reader. If you’re NaNo-ing and barely know the idea, just make a bit up. If it changes, it’s no biggie.
- Either use a question or a brash statement. For example, the blurb of Slated by Teri Terry finishes with: “Who can she trust in her search for the truth?” The blurb of Harry Potter ends in a typical ‘dot dot dot’ (not ‘S’ in Morse code). You can read my July blurb to see how I did it. You just want to hook the readers on, really.
- Imagine you don’t know anything. What is the first turn in your story that will make you want to read your book? Use this in your blurb. For July NaNoWriMo, I had James moving down South, and him meeting the ABC group. Alrighty, this is two turns, but moving house doesn’t really explain how you’d get a love story out of it. If your first turn is huge, though, perhaps you could only use that.
- Don’t go too heavy on the facts. Sure, the first name of your MC is always good, and maybe the names of a side character or two can help. A key term now and again won’t hurt. But your reader will look at the blurb as an indicator for how the book sounds. If you give them an information overload, guess what? They probably won’t read it!
- Give them a piece of the picture. Ever heard the phrase ‘A picture paints a thousand words’? Well, you have about 5% of that amount. Imagine you’re cutting a little square from the bottom of the canvas and giving it to the reader. That little square has to be really good for them to want to see the whole thing.
You have <100 words to write your blurb (yes, that really is less than one hundred). You’ve gotta make it good. Choose your words carefully, my friend. It could be the difference to a reader and a leaver.
Good luck, you’ll do great. Remember, if you don’t think you’d read it, don’t write it!
Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Write your story’s blurb below! :D