A good blurb is on par with a good cover image and both need to stand out.
The blurb has to be engaging. Not necessarily attractive like a European-man-with-long-luscious-hair-riding-on-a-horse-type-of-engaging, but it does need to convince the audience that this is one hell of a book.
You can do this by creating mystery, but the mystery can’t give the story away.
1. Choose an opening that introduces your main character(s) with originality and conflict.
‘When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place.’
~ The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins ~
2. Who are your characters and why do we care about them? Be interesting, make them three-dimensional.
‘As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.’
~ The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt ~
3. Be true about your story. Write in a way that tells the book honestly.
‘The Flamethrowers is an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist.’
~ The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner ~
4. End the paragraph with a cliffhanger for readers to find the rest of the story themselves.
‘Lisbeth Salander – outcast … enigma … avenger…’
~ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson ~
If you’re still unsure how to go about creating a good blurb, here’s a formula that breaks down the whole step-by-step process of it all.
1. The opening, the conflict, and the character = A situation
Mathew Penn seems to have it all: friends, financial stability, loving family … He is the ‘perfect’ guy. But underneath all that charm lies a secret. A secret full of undeniable consequences could risk everything he’s ever worked for …
2. The situation + the three-dimensional character = a problem
Mathew has a dark impulse, an impulse that develops an ambition to trick his good intentions into doing evil things. On one hand he’s all smiles and unafraid to bring the ladies home – that is until the trickster comes out to play, and he is left feeling guilty and ashamed …
3. The Problem + a hopeful ending = an honest Reaction
As his virtue slumbers, so does his secret. Soon everyone in Mathew’s life becomes suspicious of his behaviour. While trying to uphold the forbidden truth from being foretold, Mathew must attempt to get his alter ego under control before it’s too late.
4. An honest Reaction + cliff-hanger = The final mood of ‘Oh Yeah’
A battle of life and death, but which side of Mathew will get the upper hand in order to keep or tell the unfettered secret that lies within?
5. Leads into describing what the book is about; the overall genre.
[Book Title] is a classic retelling of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde … A mystery filled with supernatural instincts that are bound to grip us to the core of who we are.
From these steps you’ll be able to create a good blurb in no time. Be intriguing and you and your book will go far.
– Editorial Intern.