I wish I could accompany this post with music. Something hauntingly scary or perhaps a tune with lots of anxious lurking sounds, the kind played just before the zombie attacks the unsuspecting hiker.
THIS IS MY CONFESSION:
Boom, boom, boom-didi-didi-boom-boom, Boom, boom, boom-didi-didi-boom-boom.
I write the most awful blurbs...
Was that a letdown? Sorry.
What are blurbs?
Blurbs are those short little descriptions on the backs of books that are supposed to make you want to grab that novel in breathless anticipation, ready to plunk down your dollars for hours of promised reading bliss. They are there to entice, to perk the interest. Make you salivate, [In your head…not really down your face, because that would be totally gross].
So yeah, I suck at writing those. I am probably the worst. Well, maybe not thee worst, but most definitely a runner up. Second to the worst, -The Worst being the person who refuses to write them at all.
Part of my problem is that I’m wordy. [Can’t you tell?] I just babble on and on, wanting to make sure my Readers know exactly what they’re getting when they pick up a Sahar Abdulaziz novel. As a result, my first few [hundred] attempts at writing these super short synopses inevitably sound like a drunk Uncle telling a story for the umpteenth time. Embellishing so much in the telling that he’s now a Corporal with a Purple Heart in a story that years ago had him ranked as a mere Private with a library card.
Not only that, but my descriptions tend to give the entire plot away. Info-dump galore.
-Who did it? Just read my blurb.
-Why did they do it? -Also, in my blurb.
-Where did they do it…you get the picture.
I’m so bad at telling others what my books are about that I should write an entire book series about not knowing what my own book are about. Matter of fact, if I’m ever stuck in an elevator with someone famous, and they say- “Hey, tell me in one elevator ride what your book is about and if I like it- I’ll make it into a full feature movie.”
"And so Ms. Important Movie Director, in my novel my character did this, and then they did that and while doing a bunch of that they thought this until they died. And then they thunk no more."
I’m doomed. Done. Forgotten by the 3rd floor. A figment of the imagination…not even a 1-hit wonder. History...
And that’s because I don’t know how to schmooze properly. I am devoid of the schmooze factor. Wordy, but not chatty, I am unable to talk for the sake of talking. If I talk it’s most likely because I really have something to say, and even then it’s only a maybe. When writing blurbs, one has to be able to schmooze successfully, but using the written word. As a non-schmoozer, I can readily admit that my blurbs sound more like obituaries than invites.
I can spend hours working on 150-200 words. The best and brightest words I can summon together and when I am done, I do it all over again, and again until I have written a great spectacular blurb, I think. But that’s when I’m in serious trouble but smart enough to know it, and the reason is this:
Authors are not necessarily their best editors, proofers or critics. We tend to hear the words we see, and so the element of killer is not within our capacity, at least not where our own work is concerned. We’re all great at slashing a fellow writer’s work without breaking into a sweat, but not our darlings, not so much.
And there’s an absolutely good reason for this as well: It’s hard to let go of that sentence you thought sounded beyond brilliant or to X out that unique word you’ve been dying to use somewhere, anywhere. As a matter of fact, I have been known to write an entire sentence around a word I have been courting, only to watch someone else slash a line through it without a second thought. A blade filled with ink thrust straight into my heart, so deep, so penetrating that I can hardly gasp for air.
How oh how did that word not make the final cut?
Back to the drawing board.
Another part of my problem is the fact that I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Wait, did I just say this in public? Yes, I did because it’s the truth. I don’t know what I’m doing. No clue. Each project I undertake is just that- new. And so, there are new challenges, new descriptions, and new prerequisites. Some of the structural limitations and requirements certainly stay consistent, but the execution does not. It can’t. Unless of course your objective is to put your readers to sleep before page one.
And here’s another thing, blurbs are tough to write. On the one hand, they have to tell what the book is about BUT without giving anything away. They have to be concise, hard-hitting, and even sometimes witty but always direct. Think of it this way: Blurbs are an author’s 30-second live audition in front of the readers who may or may not give them the time of day. Therefore, one has to put their best face forward and make each word count.
So, once having composed the blurb of my dreams, I hand it off to brilliant writing people who can ignore the loud moaning coming from the corner of the room. The kind of folks who couldn’t care that I’m having a meltdown, drool dripping down my chin as they rip my blurb a new one.
And I ADORE them for it.
I truly do because they won’t let me look like the knucklehead I am.
So here’s my advice, for whatever it’s worth.
1. Before you begin to torture yourself writing a blurb, read the back of other books in your genre and see how others have already tackled it.
2. Jot down a few power words and descriptions you must have in there that scream your story. Then ignore them.
3. Begin to write what you think is a blurb without editing. Editing [i.e. -slashing your babies] comes later. Concentrate on the synopsis.
4. Read aloud what you wrote… did it flow? Was it exciting? Accurate? Catchy? Funny? Suspenseful? OR…Boring, stupid, and plain garbage…
5. If the latter-Try again. If the former- Try again.
6. Keep working on it until it’s the best you can put together and then find other writers/readers you trust, and let them take a swing at it.
Please note: This is the hardest part because whatever you do- DO NOT DEFEND your work. LISTEN to what others are telling you. KEEP your opinions about your so-called brilliance to yourself. And most of all accept what they are telling you and then apply only what you can to pull together a solid piece of work. And after what feels like a thousand attempts, you should have an incredible blurb.
If not, repeat steps 1-6 and keep on trying.
But keep hope alive, all is not lost. If I can do it- any-body-can.