Revenge Of The Blurb

 

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No, I am not switching to this as my author image. Just seeing if you were paying attention.

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?

Yeah.

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.

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Like this one.

 

 

But…

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.)

Anyway…

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?

But

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Check out the 15 screen shots and make comments below.
  2. Does it do a good job?
  3. Did you see this movie? Is the description accurate?
  4. Does it tell enough without telling too much?
  5. If you knew nothing about this movie, would you watch it or give it a chance based on this description?
  6. 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)

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300 (about 57 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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The Transporter (about 64 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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The Maze Runner (about 82 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Bad Santa (about 70 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Bee Movie (about 68 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (about 68 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Entourage (about 76 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Borat (about 58 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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The Divergent Series: Insurgent (about 77 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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The Fantastic Four (about 80 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Mad Max Fury Road (about 72 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Game Of Thrones (about 34 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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Twelve Monkeys (about 76 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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I, Robot (about 65 words in this description, not counting the actors’ names)

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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!

Thanks!

24 thoughts on “Revenge Of The Blurb

  1. I was looking for stakes at the end of these. Fantastic Four and Divergent had the best stakes – would-be watchers would tune in to see how that all shakes out. Others were kinda there – I, Robot, Borat, Entourage, Kingsman, Gone Girl – something happened but what the characters have to do to avoid disaster isn’t spelled out. Game of Thrones was just a list of events, but being a TV series they can get away with that. Twelve Monkeys seemed more concerned with dropping names than writing a teaser.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blurbs drive me nuts! haha As an crazy bookaholic I don’t usually read them, I almost always flip to the first page in a book at a bookstore like people did in the olden days. But I get it. It seems like blurbs are just extended tag lines nowadays (OMG I sound like an old lady), so when I write my blurbs I try to take the movie tagline approach, much like the examples showed. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked the ones for Twelve Monkeys and Gone Girl. (Never seen any of those movies, except Bad Santa, which I won’t admit out loud…although the Bad Santa blurb leaves no surprises as to how awful the actual movie is….)

    I fell asleep during the first line of the 300 blurb. Wow. It’s like a bad flashback to history class. zzzz

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In the cold light of day, they all read fairly horribly. 300 and the Transporter are the most appealung based on blurb. Goes to show the amount of garbage that gets made (Bad Santa?!!!? Lol ) and also that a magical blurb is actually very rare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Originally, I felt the same way – that they all sucked. Then I saw one or two descriptions for movies I wouldn’t have given a thought to watching and I think their blurbs would make me at least record it. Maybe it’s also the amount of competition (which we authors definitely face) so I might try this again by genre.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This comment is coming late because I couldn’t read any of them on my phone. I think the Maze Runner and the Fantastic Four had the easiest to read descriptions. Some of the others were muddled up in naming all the characters so I lost interest. To be honest when I’m looking for a new movie to watch, which isn’t often I don’t go too much by what it says. I just read it to get what the subject is to rule out the ones that scare me, which is a lot of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maze Runner’s description WAS interesting. Fantastic Four’s might have been but I don’t really do comic books so that one was probably never gonna get watched by me. The last two comic book movies I watched were the 1978 Superman and the 2002 Spider Man (fell asleep in that one). Can’t say I feel like I’ve missed much.

      Like

  6. Excellent post Dan. I’m like you and certainly there are countless numbers of others who read the listing of a TV show or movie. I wouldn’t say I found any descriptions misleading, rather some miss the meat of the story.
    I’m sorry though that I can’t comment on any the movies you’ve featured blurbs of here as I don’t particularly gravitate to those genres. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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