Writing a Blurb
Plotober is upon us! It crept up quickly and left me just a little bit startled by its sudden appearance.
But now that it’s Monday, I’m in the present and ready to go with the first activity on the schedule for the next thirty days of planning for the mania that is NaNoWriMo.
I’ve got a vague outline of the novel I want to work on this year, but haven’t done any concrete planning, so I hope you’ll join me as I try to mend my pantser ways (not that I don’t love being a pantser, but there’s something to be said for plantsing, too.)
Onwards then, with the first step in the journey – creating a blurb.
Why a blurb?
A blurb is one of the most important aspects of a completed novel, but it’s also a great starting point for planning your story because:
- A blurb introduces your main characters.
- It provides a setting for the story.
- It introduces the main source of conflict.
- It poses questions about the ending.
With those points in mind, we’re trying to avoid the following in the blurb:
- Clichés – Opening phrases and character descriptions that are overdone will kill your interest in the story before you’ve even started writing it.
- TMI – We’re writing the blurb here, not the entire novel.
- Chapter summaries – keep these for the synopsis, not the blurb.
Now for the fun stuff – actually writing the blurb. You’ll need to note the following:
- Names/genders of your MCs. Try to limit this to two or three. Names aren’t essential at this point, but could be useful.
- The main setting. This could be a world, a city, a town or a street. Make sure to note anything that’s different about it.
- The reason for the story. In other words, the conflict. Is your MC dying, madly in love, kidnapped, a shape-shifting fairy-eating dragon allergic to pixie dust?
- Ask a question about the end. Is there a happily ever after? Does everyone die? Are any of these questions ever answered?
Once you’ve got all those down, put them into a pretty paragraph of five or six sentences, max. Keep the sentences short – it’s a blurb, not an essay. Remember, this is the planning draft of your novel, so the blurb doesn’t need to be word perfect. It’s a guideline to the rest of the awesomeness that will make up your story, so don’t stress too much if it reads a oddly. It will be refined at a later point anyway.
Some possible formats of your blurb could be:
- Introduce your MCs, the setting and then the conflict.
- Set the scene, introduce MCs and then bring in conflict.
- Start with the conflict, bring in the MCs and add the setting.
Tell me how you’re spending Plotober? Do you plan or pants your way through NaNoWriMo? How do you feel about blurb writing?