Reworking A Blurb

Sign up to be a beta reader!
Sign up to be a beta reader! CLICK HERE and send me a message from my Contact Me page saying “I want to be a beta reader!” Include your email address.

We came up with a GREAT blurb for “Poggibonsi: an Italian misadventure,” but one venue requires the blurb to be closer to 100 words.

(You can read two sample chapters of Poggibonsi HERE)

Uuuuuuuuuugh.

That means boiling it down AGAIN to its essence, without losing anything (or too much) in the process. It still has to sound like a romantic comedy that people would want to read. And we writers are a wordy bunch, so this is never an easy process.

See? Right there, I could have said “this is never easy” (4 words) instead of “this is never an easy process” (6 words) and saved TWO words. That’s what this maniacal process does to you.

Here’s the original, “final” blurb, compliments of my friend Allison Maruska:

When Mike lands an assignment in Italy, he sees not only a chance to advance his career but also to rekindle the fiery passion he once shared with his wife. After ten years, she’s the only woman in Atlanta not flirting with him, and what better place than the Italian countryside to pursue romance? It’s the land of naked art, Valentino, and yoga pants, after all.

 

Once there, his hopes shatter on the cobblestone streets of Venice. Mattie spends her time shopping, drinking wine, and lashing out at Mike. By the time she heads home with their daughter, Mike thinks she’d rather he choke on a fancy Italian olive than return to them in four weeks. Not exactly the romantic excursion he had in mind.

 

As his business prospects and love life collapse, he sees her – the goddess on the train. He can’t help but admire her form, her grace, or how she captures the attention of every man in the car. When she leaves the train, he thinks she’ll remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant, one who wants to teach him all the ways of Italy. With her, he has the chance to experience Poggibonsi in all its glory – as long as he forgets what it could cost him.

.

Awesome, right? Allison did such a good job!

(You can see our original process that created this blurb, HERE)

Look closely
Look closely

Now I have to take her 215 words and cut it by more than half. Wish me luck.

Let’s look at each sentence and see what we can lose or change to make them briefer. For example, do we have to say Atlanta? Maybe. We want readers to know he doesn’t already live in Italy. Phrases starting with “As…” sound like they could be shortened.

Let’s look at this phrase:

His working vacation shatters when his Italian partner is hospitalized with a heart attack and his family does nothing but fight. (21 words)

 

His working vacation shatters when a heart attack hospitalizes his Italian partner and Mike’s family does nothing but fight.  (19 words)

So far, so good!
So far, so good!

Rearranging helps lose a word or two without losing much flavor. Is two words a big deal? When you get close to 100, yes.

What about the last half of this line:

 

When she leaves the train, he thinks she’ll remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant, one who wants to teach him all the ways of Italy.

 

I hate to lose it, but do we need it?

 

Or this:

 

When she leaves the train, he thinks she’ll remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant. (8 words)

 

Versus this:

 

When she leaves the train, he thinks she’ll remain a fantasy – not become his new flirty assistant. (6 words)

 

That changes the meaning, but it’s not a bad idea to get some hooks baited here. The new assistant is the one who causes the MC all the problems. She is definitely a flirt. We can go with that. But you see the difficult choices. You can’t just cut. You have to cut and add.

Now, let’s skip ahead to where we’ve incorporated some other changes and see what we have:

Mike sees an assignment in Italy as a chance to advance his career and rekindle the passion in his marriage. Mattie is only woman in Atlanta not flirting with him, and what better place to pursue romance than the land of naked art, Valentino, and yoga pants?

 

His working vacation shatters when a heart attack hospitalizes his Italian partner and Mike’s family does nothing but fight.

 

After seeing his wife and daughter off, Mike sees a goddess on the train. A stunning Tuscan beauty who captures everyone’s attention, he returns to work thinking she’ll remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant. (105 words)

 

Maybe we shoud take a break...
Maybe we shoud take a break…

Now we are very close to the desired word count goal, but do we have all the items we need in our list? Romance? Kinda. Comedy? A little. Baited hook? Yes…

Time to tinker.

Where do we need to add, and if we add, where else can we cut?

He returns to work thinking she’ll remain a fantasy – not become his flirtatious new assistant. (15 words)

 

He returns to his work thinking she’ll remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant. (18 words)

 

The second one has a better suspenseful flavor. The first one is a bit dull. We don’t want dull in the blurb; it’s supposed to get you to want to read more.

 

He returns to his work thinking the flirtatious goddess will remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant. 21

 

Hmm… Let’s tinker some more in other places.

 

Mike sees an assignment in Italy as a chance to advance his career and rekindle the passion in his marriage. 20

 

Mike sees an assignment in Italy as a chance for a promotion and a way to put romance back in his marriage. 22

 

Mike takes an assignment in Italy to get promoted and bring romance back to his marriage. 17

 

Mike hopes an assignment in Italy will get him promoted and bring romance back to his marriage. 17

 

 

Now let’s plug them in and see what we’ve got.

 

Mike hopes an assignment in Italy will get him promoted and bring passion back to his marriage. Mattie is only woman in Atlanta not flirting with him, and what better place to pursue romance than the land of naked art, Valentino, and yoga pants?

 

His working vacation shatters when a heart attack hospitalizes his Italian partner and Mike’s family does nothing but fight.

 

After seeing his wife and daughter off, a stunning Tuscan beauty captures the attention of everyone in the terminal. Mike returns to work thinking the flirtatious goddess will remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant! 102

 

Not bad! We very close to the word count and we have most of the flavor we want.

Are you serious?
Are you serious?

Are we missing anything? Is it smooth? Does it bait a hook?

A little more tinkering and this is what I arrived at.

Mike hopes an assignment in Italy will get him promoted and bring passion back to his marriage. His wife is the only woman in Atlanta not flirting with him, and what better place to pursue romance than the land of naked art, Valentino, and yoga pants? His working vacation shatters when a heart attack hospitalizes his Italian partner and Mike’s family does nothing but fight. After seeing his wife and daughter off, a stunning Tuscan beauty captures the attention of everyone in the train terminal. Mike returns to work thinking the flirtatious goddess will remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant! (105 words)

 .

Not bad!

This “process” stuff is kinda dull to read, but hopefully it gives you ideas on how to take your 80,000 word book down to an interesting 250 word blurb and even to 100 words if necessary.

Look at what we started with and what we ended up with. Yes, they are different but they still can describe the same book. Technically, they both work, they just give different details as mandated by the space allowed. The process is a series of tough calls, but with practice, you get it.

When you have to write your blurb, think about only the main elements, say them as concisely as possible like in an outline, and then boil it down.

And boil…

…and boil…

Look at each piece and think of different ways to say it. Read it to others or email them and see what they think.

Then run with it before you spend three days pulling your hair out.

.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Send it as a comment to any post or hit the Contact Me button and, you know, contact me. I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends, too.)

FOLLOW ME! I’m this helpful and funny all the time. Probably. Don’t miss another valuable bauble that falls from my fingertips. You read this far; you may actually need this stuff. SUBSCRIBE/FOLLOW TODAY (click the follow “Follow” button, above) and if you send me your email through the Contact Me button I’ll send you a free copy of my amazingly cute book “The Short Years” plus we’ll probably become friends and start hanging out and stuff.

If you benefit from this blog, share it with your friends!

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi” – yeah, we know. We’re trying to convince him to change that title – check out his other works HERE and check back often for interesting stuff.

18 thoughts on “Reworking A Blurb

  1. The only thing is, the last blurb leaves out the word “the” in the sentence “His wife is only woman in Atlanta…” which takes you back up to 105 when corrected, but I see the process 😉

    I have others edit my work when I’m ready for revisions because I’m completely incapable of changing my own thoughts unless forced to with a compelling argument. I’m working on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we’re coming to this blurb with some information. It’s under the category Romance/ Romantic Comedy, so we’d have that. The legs on the cover imply sexiness. Then, from what we do have, we string together:

      (A) a married guy trying to rekindle his marriage,
      (B) a wife who fights and leaves,
      and these words
      (C) a stunning beauty flirtatious goddess fantasy – who becomes his assistant.

      I guess I’m hoping prospective readers would connect the dots and see trouble on the horizon. Will they not? Did I fuck it up?

      I NEVER SAID I WAS GOOD AT THIS!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You didn’t fuck it up, but the “omg, will he risk it all??” question is lost a little. Readers could extrapolate the stakes. You might accomplish that by changing that last exclamation mark to a period.

        Like

  2. The effing process never ends!

    What if I take this:
    Mike returns to work thinking the flirtatious goddess will remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant!

    and change it to add “and the sparks fly” or some shit like that?

    Mike returns to work thinking the flirtatious goddess will remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant and the sparks fly! (108 words)

    Liked by 1 person

    • A job assignment in Italy is just what Mike needs to advance his career and bring passion back to his marriage. His wife is the only woman in Atlanta not flirting with him, and what better place for romance than the Tuscan countryside? His hopes shatter when his Italian partner falls ill and his family does nothing but fight. After his wife and daughter head home, a stunning Tuscan beauty captures the attention of everyone on the train. Mike thinks the goddess will remain a fantasy – until she introduces herself as his new assistant. She promises romantic adventure, if Mike can forget the cost. (104 words)

      Like

  3. Yep.

    “Book one-liner of 45 characters or less. This will be used throughout the Kindle Scout website. Think of examples like ‘Space opera meets the Middle Ages’ or ‘How far would one woman go for her dreams?’ “

    Like

What do YOU think? Let me hear from ya.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s