I wrote something!

Okay, I know, I’m a writer. I finished something!

And now, I have to write a blurb. Um, What’s the story about? I just wrote tens of thousands of words exploring that. Um. It’s about a ballistic pilot, and the absolutely terrible day she has when her own government tries to shoot her down. It’s about the “military advisors” the Other Side is sending into her destination, because cold wars always have hot spots. It’s about how, if you bleed a country with taxes and regulations until they can’t survive, they will declare independence from the trade union just to stay alive.

It’s also about learning that getting what you want doesn’t mean you got what you need, and learning to ask for help, and to swallow your pride and start over. And about L-shaped ambushes and ground-to-air fire and how nobody loves linear assaults. And crusty cantankerous curmudgeons with hearts of gold.

And that, just because you’ve been in a field long enough that all the romance has rubbed off and you’re well acquainted with the suck, doesn’t mean you don’t still love it anyway.

… but that’s not a blurb. Why is writing my own blurbs hard? I should be able to do this!

And I have to format it. And get the blurb to the cover artist with page count for the print cover. And…

Here’s hoping it’s available this week!


  1. Let not your heart be troubled. Most writers are terrible at blurbing. Our inclinations run in the exact opposite direction. But if you can summarize the identity and initial motivation of the protagonist, and give the reader a glimpse of the first important conflict he’ll face, and STOP RIGHT THERE, you have a workable blurb. It’s the “stop right there” that’s the hard part. Oh, and DON’T praise your own book in your blurb. That’s an absolute no-no.

    Here’s an example of a truly terrible blurb:

    — A novel of improbable proportions, ‘Dancing the River Lightly’ takes you on a nonstop ride through the magical world of the Pacific Northwest, where dreams unfold, friendships are forged, and lives are changed forever. —

    This writer has committed every imaginable sin in his blurb (except for running on interminably; he didn’t do that). It’s useful as a checklist for what not to do. By contrast, here’s a fairly decent blurb:

    — You’re a young woman with no memory of your past. You’ve been made a sexual slave by a gang of vicious bikers. After ten years’ agony, you’ve freed yourself by committing murder and earning a faceful of scars. But the biker king is obsessed with you. Your sole chance of escaping him lies in trusting a mysterious young man you’ve just met. Do you choose the devil you know, or the devil you don’t? —

    Protagonist, motivation, first conflict, STOP.

    Try it yourself, and good luck.

  2. The day went from good to bad when her government began shooting at her. Then the day got worse.

    Now she must not only survive her own side trying to kill her, but the machinations of the enemies military advisors who want her dead too.

    To live, she must uncover the truth. But the truth doesn’t always set you free.

    1. That does sound like a good blurb. But the truth thing seems to show up a lot in my opinion and it’s a bit cliche.

      Although many blurbs are cliche I guess.

      1. I would argue that cliché is just another word for a “tag” or “genre” signifier. Tag in this case.

        One can replace the word “truth” with a different tag, but only Dorothy knows what she wants.

        I can think of an alternative, for example: To live, she must survive. But surviving comes at great cost.

        1. I think of a cliche as a dead simile or metaphor: one whose referent no longer has the original effect on (or significance for) the listener. For example: “avoid it like the plague.” Does anyone today still think of the horrors associated with the Black Death when he hears that phrase?

          “Avoid cliches like the plague. They’re old hat!” — A helpful reminder.

          1. I finally have to say this… avoid it like the plague../?? People will know exactly what this means now and for the next few years. Not because we are facing the Black Death but because people are acting as if we are and their avoidance is really over the top.

  3. I read and did the exercises in Bryan Cohen’s “How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis” book. It’s a fast read and makes it much easier to apply all of the things Francis mentioned. I was able to rewrite two of my book blurbs without too much hair pulling after going through the book’s exercises. It’s only $4, so it isn’t expensive either.

  4. I’ve lived in the Pacific North West since the end of ’86, and have yet to see the magic; it MUST be avoiding me like unto the PLAGUE.

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