Leap-Ahead Marathon Day 1 — What Story Are You Working On? (Share your blurb!)
Obviously, this isn’t the first time we’ve done a marathon on this blog. But as I mentioned yesterday, I’d like for us to make this one more about being committed to writing every day rather than trying to hit specific word-count goals. Not that word-count goals are a bad thing . . . it’s just that they put a lot of pressure on us, and for the most part, it’s easier to quit once we miss that first goal.
In the FirstDraft60 series, the first thirty days were focused on pre-planning a novel. That’s how I wrote the majority of my eleven published manuscripts—because I had to. I was on such a time restriction with them—and I had to write fairly detailed synopses in order to get those contracts—that I had to have the major plot points already figured out before I started writing so that I wouldn’t find myself written into a corner or deciding twenty-five thousand words in that the premise just didn’t work or that there really was no plot or that I just didn’t like the characters as much as I thought I would (the reason I’ve set aside the contemporary I was working on last fall—the one “starring” Brandon Routh).
So with this current manuscript, set in 1805 and once again focused on characters in and associated with the British Royal Navy, I’m back in familiar territory without feeling like I’m having to resurrect something I’ve already done. I also have a built-in timeline with actual historical events to build my plot around. And this time, I came up with the conflict between the hero and heroine first—before I really even knew who each one was beyond that conflict. But other than that, I’m trying not to overthink this one. I’m trying to see if I can go back to being the seat-of-the-pants writer that I was before grad school and publication—the person who loved writing for the sake of writing and not because it was a contractual obligation.
That being said, one of the first things I did when I started to solidify this idea to see if I even wanted to write it was to write a blurb (i.e., a brief pitch) for it . . . limited by the number of characters that Pinterest would allow me to post as the description for my board there where I’m collecting all of the images, templates, and research links for the story (turned out to be 86 words). And because this story is a little more seat-of-the-pants, the blurb is subject to change. But here it is:
If you plan to work on only one project during this month and don’t already have a blurb for it, today’s the day to write it . . . and to share it with us! Here are some tips to get you started:
The One-Paragraph Marketing Blurb
This is some of the most fun “synopsis” writing you will ever do . . . because this is practice for hooking people on your story idea in one paragraph or less. Basically, you’re practicing writing back-cover copy in this exercise.
- Explain your story in four or five sentences.
- What is the main plot of the story?
- What is the major conflict in the story?
- Who are the characters (no more than three, preferably one or two) who are the stakeholders in the plot?
- What is the hook/question you can end with to make people want to know more? (Doesn’t have to actually be phrased as a question.)
- Study back-cover copy of your favorite books.
- Read the marketing copy on Amazon or author or publisher websites.
The James Scott Bell Formula for the one-paragraph blurb:
Start with three sentences
1. [Name] is a [description] who wants/is struggling with [goal].
2. But when [something happens], [Name] has to [change direction].
3. Now, [Name] must [go do something] or else [something bad will happen].
Expand it with one or two more sentences to make it even more compelling (and to give a hint at where/when it’s set).
Your blurb should be between 75–200 words, with around 100–150 being an optimum length for one-sheets and proposals and websites and back-cover copy.
- Sample Blurb using the JSB Formula:
Luke Skywalker is a farmboy who wants to escape his life of drudgery by enrolling in the Imperial Academy. Before he can, one of his uncle’s new androids begins to malfunction and then runs away, so Luke must go after him or face his uncle’s wrath. But when Luke locates the rogue droid and hears a distress call from a beautiful princess, he finds himself embroiled in a war that could spell doom for the entire galaxy.
What’s Your Blurb?
- Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to email (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)