This week in the writing workshops, we discussed the importance of the back cover blurb, what it's supposed to do, and how we can write them effectively. Let's have a look.
Make no mistake, the blurb is the second most important marketing tool you have (your cover is the first). When someone picks up your book, or these days, clicks on your cover link, they are introduced to the back cover blurb. This is part of the negotiation between you the storyteller, and the reader. The blurb will introduce the major thrust of the story while enticing the reader to purchase to find out more. If the reader puts your book back on the shelf, it usually means they're not the right audience for your book (which is fine, by the way), or, your blurb sucks and failed to entice the reader enough to make the purchase.
So what is blurb?
I can tell you what it's not: the blurb is not a synopsis or summary of your story. Too often, this is what I see. No, the blurb is a well-written 100-200 word outline of who the main character is, what they're after, who's stopping them, and what are the consequences if they fail. This is often followed by a Call To Action, like "pick up your copy of XXX today".
That's the template. Check out any book that sells a lot, and you will see a blurb that accomplishes those four items above.
You can see the blurb I put together for The Quantum Awakening right here. Don't just read it: study it. Notice how I'm enticing the reader to step into my world without giving the plot away.
Take it, change my words with your own. Write an awesome blurb.
Meanwhile, the challenge to write the first draft of my Sissy Jupiter series in 4 weeks is progressing well. Another day yesterday with over 6,000 words, and that despite my regular coaching and writing business activities. Don't think I'll be able to keep up that pace, but let's see!
One of the more interesting aspects of novel writing is discovering what works for you. My first novel, The Crying of Ross 128, took about 2.5 months to write the first draft. The next two books in the trilogy took much longer, probably because i was trying too hard and shackling the muse in the process. The Quantum Awakening, coming out in April, took less time for the first draft as I learned to write more efficiently in sprints.
Each of us is different. Some write slowly; others quickly. Some writer better prose in the first draft; others focus on getting the story out and fixing it up later.
The key to efficient writing is finding what works best for you. By efficient I mean getting words down while maintaining the bones of a good story so that you can minimize the heavy revisions later.
Efficient, and effective. That's the goal. For me, I'm now able to write 5,000 good words per day. Yes, there is still revising and editing to perform, but the quality of the initial writing is improving. That didn't happen quickly. That's come about after writing over half a million words in novels. No short cuts.
Perhaps, then, rather than comparing our writing with someone else's, we focus on what we can do where we are, knowing that with more experience and persistence, we'll develop into efficient writers too.
Yesterday (March 24, 2021) marked the one week in milestone in the writing of the first draft of my new Sissy Jupiter adventure, tentatively titled "The Hands of Moaning Bones". The last few days have been extremely productive, as the numbers bear out. I write in 14 minute sprints throughout the day and in between other activities needed for my writing and teaching business.
I've learned a lot so far. The most interesting take away from this first week is how many fascinating little nuanced plot lines appear while I write. This was not unexpected, since that's the way the creative process goes, but what surprised me was how many and the quality of the ideas. Did not anticipate that at all.
Of course, some of these may only appear brilliant to me at this moment. Thank goodness there are multiple revisions to undertake before the story ever sees the light of day, because sometimes when it comes to writing, I can't trust my own judgment as to what works and what fails miserably.
Today, I plan to write another 5000 words or so and keep at it. At this rate, I will meet the challenge, but it's still early in the game and anything (life?) can happen.
Yesterday's writing progressed well. Again, what I do is write in sprints, usually 14 or 15 minutes at a time. I can write 1100 words in 28 minutes, so I try to stick to 14 minute sprints.
Make no mistake, this is first draft copy. Like Hemingway said, it's sh!t and, yeah, I can confirm that. But what I find totally surprising is the ideas that spring forth while I put the crap down. I've now developed a wicked subplot for my main character, Sissy, and and intriguing surprise that will be foisted on her later in the story :)
This is me tenting my fingers in anticipation...
It's clear as I write this novel that I'm getting faster at putting words down. When I think back to that first novel (the one that shall never see the light of day) and my other first novel that I actually published, I'm reminded of the painstaking effort it took to write. I see this too with my novel workshop writers... they struggle over every word in the first draft.
I suppose it comes down to developing an effective mindset to writing 5,000 words or more per day... one that doesn't fuss about spelling or punctuation or even the best way to weave a line. That heavier work comes after the first draft is done, and that's how I wrote The Quantum Awakening once the first draft was completed.
Truth is, we must all find what works for us. And I'm thrilled I've learned how to write quickly, with a story that has been well-planned (even though it morphs along the way).
What works for you?
I challenged myself to write the first draft of my new novel series in four weeks. But I didn't start the challenge until I'd already started writing. Fortunately, I hadn't gone very far, and with some extra time to write these days, I thought I'd best get to it.
Yesterday, Day 5, was a productive day. I wrote just under 7,000 words and I'm half way through the Beginning sections.
The novel plan is divided into 60 sections: 15 in the Beginning, 30 in the Middle, and 15 in the End. You'll sometimes see me refer to sections by number, e.g., B9 is the 9th section in the Beginning group.
How I write
I plot the story out before I ever start writing, so I know where my major plot points are, and I build in what happens in each of those sections. Yes, the plot morphs as I write and the characters take on lives of their own, but this plan frees me up to "just write".
I write in 15 minute sprints. Before setting the timer, I review the section and play out in my mind where my characters need to go and do, then I go. When I'm writing under the clock, I don't stop to revise or edit along the way, so the first draft looks sketchy with missing punctuation, spelling mistakes, and so on. I don't care. My goal is to get the first draft done. It'll get revised several times before it's finished anyway, so I just write.
When the 15 minutes is up. I end the sentence I'm working on and then go do something else for a few minutes before returning to the story.
This way, I average 580 words in each 15 minute sprint. Two sprints gives me between 1100 and 1200 words. That results in a novel of about 65,000 - 75,000 words after revisions - a good length for my readers.
Now, I didn't begin writing like this. For the Ross 128 Trilogy, I'd write about 1250 words in 1:15 hours. Yes, I revised along the way and fixed up the punctuation and such, so it was a much slower process. But I wrote The Quantum Awakening (coming out in April) with sprints, and the first draft flew by. So I'm trying this with my new Sissy Jupiter series. It may not work. And that's okay.
Today's goal: Write another 3 sections, about 3500 words.
Hi, I'm David. I write science fiction from a Christian worldview that promotes hope. Want to know the darker details? Click here.
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