Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Blurb

You've come to that point.

You've written your book, and now you need a catchy blurb to reel people in.

And that's exactly the purpose of the blurb. To catch an agent... or editor... and eventually, most importantly, a reader's eye.

There is a GOB of information out there about writing the blurb. Some say only one sentence. Some limit it to a certain number of words or characters. Some say it can be a whole paragraph. Some say not to include a question, others not so much. Some say to use names... others say to leave names for the book.

Oye. Can get SUPER confusing.

I've read all of those same sets of advice. I've struggled myself with writing the "perfect" blurb. And in the end, I took all into consideration and decided that I need to keep the MOST important key in mind:

THE BLURB MUST HOOK!

Just like a first chapter... your blurb must hook the reader, leave them wanting to know more. It must create a question, and not just any question. But an INTRIGUING one.

That said, intriguing is in the eye of the beholder. What intrigues ME might not intrigue YOU, and visa versa.

Our family has Netflix at our house, and I've always gotten a kick out of reading the little blurbs for the movies. Some of them are right on, but occasionally I'll find an yawn-inducing one that reminds me of the super importance of quality blurbs.

Thought it'd be fun to post some examples... as well as my commentary on what makes them good or, well, not so good.

*NOTE* 
I have no watched all of these movies. Some of them are rated R or are NOT movies I'd recommend. I'm judging the quality of the blurb only, not the movie itself. 
 
13 going on 30

When a geeky teen's birthday party goes awry and she makes a wish that she could be 30, she wakes up to discover she's flash-forwarded 17 years.

Krista's Thoughts: I actually really like this one. Highlights a fun, intriguing twist that you can tell would be full of funny twists and turns.

The Switch

Still single and worried about her biological clock, Kassie decides to pursue motherhood with the help of an anonymous sperm donor.

Krista's Thoughts: Okay, I know the whole "sperm donor" thing is controversial, so apologize for the subject matter. But honestly, I'm not loving this blurb, and I thought this was a good example. So she gets a sperm donor. Not my preferred way, but "normal" these days. Doesn't highlight any conflict and no real twisting plot that would hook anyone. Without knowing anything else about the movie, I'd assume it was a not-in-my-taste documentary (or non-fiction book) and move on

Maid in Manhattan

Sparks fly when a chambermaid and a rising politician literally collide at a posh New York City hotel. The only problem? He assumes she's a guest.

Krista's Thoughts: First, loved this movie. Second, not too bad of a blurb! Ends with the plot hook, which is what the one before was missing. Just the first sentence described the movie... but the rest is what made the blurb a good one! (and note... It's 3 sentences. Totally broke a rule, but worked!)

The River Why

Gus Orviston, a discontented city-dweller, moves to the wilderness to devote his time to fly-fishing and to pull a prize rainbow trout from the river.

Krista's Thoughts: *stretches* *yawns* Oh, sorry, I think I just fell asleep while reading that blurb...

Anger Management

After a gentle businessman is forced to get anger management counseling, his therapist moves in -- but turns out to have anger issues of his own. 

Krista's Thoughts: Never watched the movie... but another thumbs up on the blurb. An anger counselor who has his own anger issues? And why in the world is his therapist moving in anyway? I'm curious...

North and South

When her father moves his family to an industrial mill town, the parson's daughter, Margaret Hale, struggles to adapt to her harsh new surroundings.

Krista's Thoughts: Eh. Okay, so she struggles. A little bit of conflict anyway. And the "harsh" surroundings hints to something. But... okay, honestly, I couldn't make it through watching the whole movie without falling asleep. So maybe the blurb is as good as it could get? I dunno. Don't know how it ended! And don't really care to... *confession over*

IQ

When Albert Einstein's cerebral niece piques the interest of an auto mechanic, Einstein devises a plan to bring the two divergent minds together.

Krista's Thoughts: Brilliant! Just plain brilliant!

A Royal Affair

In 18th-century Denmark, the unstable King Christian VII neglects his young queen, Mathilde, who falls in love with his German physician, Struensee, an intellectual whose advocation of reform transforms the country but brings about his own downfall.

Krista's Thoughts: Oh. My. Honestly? I've read this blurb about 4 or 5 times and I still have no clue at all what it is talking about. Blurbs should not be confusing. I don't even know how to critique this blurb because I have no clue what it is saying.

Elizabethtown

Fired from his job as a shoe designer, Drew tries to kill himself. But he gets a new lease on life when he returns to his hometown for a funeral.

Krista's Thoughts: I almost didn't use this one. But... there is this fabulous twist in this blurb that makes it actually decent. Okay, so he tried to kill himself... but finds new LIFE at a FUNERAL. Really??? It wasn't my favorite favorite movie, but I was intrigued enough to watch!


America's Sweethearts

In this slick satire, a separated, bickering movie-star couple make nice for the cameras during a press junket promoting their final film together.

Krista's Thoughts: Disappointing blurb!!!!!! I've watched the movie, and while this is true... there is much more to the movie than this, parts that actually might, say, HOOK a reader/watcher. This just sounds annoying. If you want to watching bickering... come and get some popcorn and pull up a chair in my living room. My kids provide plenty of it!

Moral of the Blurb:

Don't bore your reader.
Don't confuse your reader.
Don't worry TOO much about all the blurb rules. (But still worry a little...)
JUST HOOK YOUR READER!!!

So... what are YOUR thoughts on some of the blurbs above? Any you disagree with my thoughts? (feel free... as I said, this is TOTALLY subjective!)

Do you have an fabulous example of a really GOOD blurb or a really HORRIBLE one you want to share?

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Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance. She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at http://www.kristaphillips.com. She is represented by the fab agent, Rachelle Gardner.

8 comments:

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Wow, you did some great research for this post, Krista. I don't think I've seen any of these movies, but seeing your analysis helps me to see what does/doesn't work with a blurb. Thanks for this!

Lindsay Harrel said...

You need to finish North and South, if only for the amazing kiss at the end!!

Really liked this post, Krista. The blurb can be all sorts of difficult to figure out, that's for sure. Thanks for the examples.

Ashley Clark said...

Kritsa, I loved this post! GREAT examples. You're right--writing a blurb can be super confusing because there is so much information out there. I think this is really helpful!

Krista Phillips said...

Jeanne, you're welcome! And the research was courtesy of the lovely "cut and paste" feature:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Lindsay... I might, HA! Value in fast forward maybe??? It's probably fine... the first part confused me and made me want to sleep for a very long time... so maybe it gets better!

The blurb can be difficult... but I think sometimes we make it MUCH harder than it is!

Krista Phillips said...

Ashley, thanks friend! :-)

paradiseonpaper said...

I think the idea of using a blurb from netflix to teach about hooking a reader in is fascinating! I plan to read blurbs to help me learn more about catching a reader :)

-Trixie Hall

marjilaine.com said...

Loved your analysis - love analyzing movies and books anyway, but never thought of the blurb. Brilliant!