Last time out, I was pontificating about the magic formulas for writing blurbs for thrillers, chick-lit and romance. I also did a huge amount of talking about other stuff in relation to blurbs you’ve probably forgotten by now. So just to make sure, I’m not even going to mention that, and instead I’m going to jump straight into looking at the basic formulas for writing blurbs in the genres of…
CAREER OF EVIL – ROBERT GALBRAITH
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…
- Explain the modus operandi of your Evil Perpetrator.
- Introduce your Main Character [cop/victim], what’s important about their life/family and how the threat from Evil Perp targets them specifically.
- Ask: What is the [intriguing detail/further connection] between the crimes and the Main Character?
- Ask: must Main Character overcome an internal/personal obstacle in order to stop Evil Perp from doing even worse things?
- Suggest what might happen if Evil Perp is not defeated [and don’t forget the dot dot dot…]
4. Historical Fiction:
I’ve chosen this example because this blurb was brilliant enough to make me really excited about the story and therefore buy the book. If I’m honest, I didn’t think that the intriguing stuff from the blurb was resolved in the novel at all, so I was quite disappointed, but this doesn’t take away from the blurb’s pulling power.
Also, Historical Fiction seems to be the one genre where you can get away with praising your own novel with flowery adjectives, so go for it. All the big shots are doing it.
THE MINIATURIST – JESSIE BURTON
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .
Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?
Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
- State the when and where: In [place and year], [historical event is happening] / Main Character is [doing/being something].
- Explain how [important life or historical event] intrudes and [creates obstacles for Main Character], he/she must fight against the [constraints of their time] to achieve [self-actualisation or greatness].
- State how this novel/story is a [flowery adjectives] examination of what it means to [be human, change society] and will delight readers who loved [any classic or successful historical novel which made shedloads of money].
5. Science Fiction/Fantasy:
THE MARTIAN – ANDY WEIR
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive – and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills – and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit – he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”
- Set the fiction: make it clear, through a unique event, character trait or description of place, that this is not realism.
- Introduce your Main Character, who discovers [problem, threat, invitation], which sets them off on a [journey/chain of events] which changes [them/the universe around them].
- Introduce what it is about the Main Character which makes them uniquely qualified to fix everything.
- Throw in some specific scenarios/keywords to create intrigue.
- Optional: Ask a vague question about the future of the universe/mankind/Main Character which alludes to the wider theme of the book (and its relevance to our world).
That’s it for today. On Thursday, I’ll be dealing with short story anthologies and literary fiction. Do you know, when I started this caper, I thought I was only doing one post. But what’s more important than a blurb? (And don’t say world peace, or I’ll block you.)
So on that note, if there are any other genres you think are missing, please let me know in the comments. (Within reason. Medieval Erotic Shipping Manuals, for instance, are out.)
And I’ll warn you now, I’ve been fairly straight with you so far, but I’m going to have to have my fun with this some time, and that’s probably going to be next time.