We’ll be working on a blurb for The Navigators soon, and I thought I’d get in some practice. Figured you could use some, too.
Practice? For a blurb?
See, just like we had to learn to steer clear of adverbs (per Stephen King, “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs” – sounds like we should steer clear to me) and avoid cliches like the plague, we had to learn to tell our stories in an interesting manner. We learned to create memorable characters.
We learned all that stuff.
And then comes the BLURB, a demon of its own realm, short but not too short, interesting without giving stuff away…
The Blurb may be the second most important thing in selling your book.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. We’re assuming you wrote a great story. And before the blurb, you’ll need an eye catching cover.
Writing blurbs is tricky.
Now, I used to watch a lot of TV and by some standards I still do, but I used to watch a LOT more movies. Now they seem kinda dull, most of them, not unlike today’s music. I’d agree it’s a sure sign I’m getting old but I’ve always felt this way. I always thought most music sucked and I always thought Hollywood churned out a ton of loser TV shows and movies for every good one they created. (And how hard was their job? Just take the best selling books and make them into movies. Duh.)
Anyway, as I scroll through the TV menu and its 900+ channels, I glance at the description of a show to see if it’s worth recording. I’ll select a few and record them, for my and my family’s enjoyment later in the week. Some are for the whole family, some just for me and my wife. (Get your mind out of the gutter. The kid can’t watch Jurassic World. She’ll be in our bed crying about the T-Rex chasing her. She did that over a dream about a damned squirrel, for god’s sake. And, well… in fairness, if I dreamed a squirrel jumped one me, I’d probably wake up rattled, too.)
I’ll scroll along looking at movie descriptions and choose a few to record, then I’ll sit down in the evening after dinner to watch with the fam. And if it doesn’t do something for me in a few minutes, I’m on to other pursuits. My six-year-old-daughter will drop off to sleep in 5 minutes if the story doesn’t engage her, and my wife won’t last much longer.
Then I’ll go get on my computer or continue to watch the movie, depending on how engaged I am in the story.
Usually, with me, the computer wins. (My darling love never seems to get through a movie!)
Hollywood rarely beats Facebook. How sad is that?
The key element was: I scroll through movies and read the description before selecting ones to record.
Aha, you see where I’m going here.
In other words, I’m reading the blurb. Which brings us to today’s execise.
I’m gonna list a bunch of screen images that describe some popular movies currently playing on HBO and Showtime and a few other channels.
YOU read the screen image and see if it properly describes the movie – if you’ve seen it – and whether it goes enough information for you to make a decision.
See, I always just scrolled along and read these things, never realizing that it’s somebody’s job to write them. And if they do a bad job, I don’t watch. If enough people don’t watch, the channel doesn’t do well. So writing that description is important. And, sure, Jurassic World was gonna get recorded regardless of what the description said, but it had two things attached to it.
- Sequels suck (that’s a Dan-ism. Aside from The Road Warrior and Godfather II, sequels have almost never delivered. Don’t start, Star Wars fans. You wanna go Empire? I say Jar Jar Binks. ‘Nuff said. There was ONE Stars Wars movie, thank you.) But I was still curious enough to check it out because I LOVED the first one.
- Like books and TV shows, many movies come with a recommendation from a friend, a.k.a., word of mouth. (Like there’s a way to do word of elbow or word of foot. Words come from mouths, sayings-maker people.) And Jurassic World was SO hyped, I knew it couldn’t possibly deliver. Plus, the sequels sucked (see bullet point #1). I don’t recall my friends raving about it, but I’m curious enough to give it a shot. And after 15 minutes I’m writing this post while it plays, if that tells you anything.
Now, I know all this, but still I have to occasionally pry myself away from the computer and interact with the other people who live in this house. Movies accommodate that. Kinda. And I can only watch so much Disney Channel and Spongebob.
So lets’ have a look at these 15 screen shots of movie descriptions and see how well they did – and what you’d think if they were a book blurb.
After all, we’re writers. Blurbs may be a different animal – advertising copy, basically – but we can still master it.
Here’s what I want you to do:
- Check out the 15 screen shots and make comments below.
- Does it do a good job?
- Did you see this movie? Is the description accurate?
- Does it tell enough without telling too much?
- If you knew nothing about this movie, would you watch it or give it a chance based on this description?
- And whatever else you want.
Play along. This is basically the process book readers go through, and there may be something to learn.
Don’t spend all day, go hard and fast. I want gut reactions just like online book shoppers. Then give me your comments below. Do one or do them all, it doesn’t matter – but the more we all do, the more data we’ll collect to help YOU with YOUR blurb!
Gone Girl (about 81 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
300 (about 57 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
The Transporter (about 64 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
The Maze Runner (about 82 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Bad Santa (about 70 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Bee Movie (about 68 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Kingsman: The Secret Service (about 68 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Entourage (about 76 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Borat (about 58 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (about 77 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
The Fantastic Four (about 80 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Mad Max Fury Road (about 72 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Game Of Thrones (about 34 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
Twelve Monkeys (about 76 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
I, Robot (about 65 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)
So, I should have turned off the lights in the kitchen first, but still – have at it!
Some were better than others. Some didn’t work at all. Tell me your thoughts!