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PART TWO: SETTING THE TONE OF THE BLURB
The above blurb is a good framework (if I do say so myself, and heck, it’s my article, so I’m going to say so). I’m under two hundred words and I have the main core conflicts of the story. As nice as that all is, there are a few things I need to look at: first off, we need some bridge sentences to connect the ideas. Secondly, the writing has to be tightened. Third, well, it’s a nice start, but this blurb is so boring, it could be used non-medical alternative for insomnia pills.
If you’ve been working on your blurb, then you may see the same issues in your work. How does a writer fix all this? In a word: details.
The way you use words to tweak your blurb is what will give readers an idea of the kind of story they’re getting themselves into. So, let’s go back to Love in Miami, and kick around some ideas.
There’s a few things I want potential readers to know when they read the blurb. Things like: Angel is Southern. I want the blurb to have that great Southern drawl, for readers to think of mint juleps and hot, humid nights. However, I DO NOT want to overdo it. Southern drawl is brilliant, readers hearing duelling banjos, is not.
Secondly, readers need to know that Nana is wonderfully eccentric, the kind of don’t-sass-me-take-charge-say-what-she-wants senior citizen that I want to be when I grow up. Readers also need to know that Harry is a gardener.
Most importantly, I want people to know the story is a romantic comedy. This is the kind of story that will make readers smile and laugh, a light-hearted break from the day. So, I don’t want to use strong-association words or terms (like “Her life depends on…”), and I don’t want to be heavy-handed.
With a few tweaks, this is what I end up with:
The move from Georgia to Miami was supposed to bring peace and calm, but for the past three months, Angel Baxter’s been playing reluctant mediator to her nana and their eighty-five year-old neighbour. Between ripped up azalea bushes, wrecked bird baths, and her grandmother prancing across the lawn like a deranged pixie, Angel’s nerves are frayed and she’s got more problems than a three-legged cat in a dog pound. But help shows up in the sexiest form: Harry Garret, the neighbor’s gorgeous grandson. The drool-worthy gardener offers his hand in the negotiations, and the rest of his body on a date at a French restaurant. But when her nana’s pranks go too far, will Angel lose out on more than peace and quiet, but on a chance at love, as well?
So, just like you when you’re writing your blurb, this is my stop and check time. What do I love about this blurb: I’ve cut down the word count (from 159 to 132), and I’ve managed to get in the details I wanted (Angel being Southern, etc.). I love the “deranged pixie” line because that really describes the grandmother, and I adore the “three-legged cat” because it aptly describes how Angel feels. The last line is good for letting readers know that more than a lawn’s at stake if things don’t get resolved. I think I’ve done a satisfactory job of letting readers know it’s a light story and a comedy (after all, deranged pixies in horrors/dark stories don’t usually prance).
What I’m not sure of: the “rest of his body.” I’m not sure if it reads the way I want. This is where my crit partners (and yours, when you’re reviewing your blurb) will come in handy. Get people who love your genre to read your blurb. Get people who DON’T love your genre to read your blurb. It’ll be a great way for you to figure out what is working and what isn’t in your paragraph.
If you’re your blurb comes back with red marks all over the place, it’s okay. Go back to your questions. Did you hit the main conflicts and plot points? Did you match tone/voice of the blurb with the story?
Find part 3 here.