Posted in read around the rainbow, Writing

Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Blurbs

Ah, yes, the blurb. Those two or three paragraphs on the back cover of a book (or the virtual equivalent if it’s an e-book) that tell you who and what the story’s about. Nothing to them, really. I mean, you’ve already written an entire book. How hard can a few paragraphs be?

Well, that hard, actually. First of all you need to squash the entire contents of the book into a few hundred words. Next you need to make sure all the really important bits are covered. And finally, you need to make sure it sounds tempting enough that people will actually want to read the damn thing. (After all, there’s no point sweating blood over a novel only for the blurb to make it sound about as entertaining as Dostoevsky on a bad day.) And let me tell you, that can be hard work.

I normally wait until I’ve either finished a book, or am pretty close to finishing it, before I even attempt to write a blurb. I need to know how the thing ends, and what the main themes are, and how the main characters are affected. This is mostly because I’m a ‟pantser”, and write as the inspiration (and the characters) take me, so I don’t always know exactly what will happen, or how much things will change. So if I write the blurb too soon it’ll be wrong, and that would just be a waste of time.

Once I know how the book’s going to end, I sometimes find that breaking off and writing the blurb can give me the inspiration I need to actually finish the thing. That and a good idea of the cover art seem to give me clarity, and something to aim for, in the final few pages or chapters, which can otherwise be really hard to write. And if the book is really clear in my mind, I don’t have too much trouble coming up with at least the bare bones of a blurb, because by then I know who the main characters are, what they want, and what they do or don’t get. Conversely, if I’m struggling with the book, I’ll almost certainly struggle with the blurb – because how do you summarise something you don’t fully understand?

The blurb I found easiest of all my books to write, I think, was the one for Ghosts Galore, which is such a fun romp that it was almost a joy to summarise it. I wrote several versions, but the one I eventually settled on was this. Would it tempt you to read the book?** I certainly hope so!

Cash-strapped artist Adam Price is the owner of Greystones Hall, an ancient manor house he shares with a plethora of ghosts. He adores the place, but life is a constant battle to pay the bills and he’s lonely, too, following the death of his beloved grandfather two years earlier.

Lonely, that is, until the Ghosts Galore crew offer to film an episode at Greystones Hall. Adam’s a bit dubious about letting them loose in his home, but allows himself to be persuaded by the fee they’ll be paying him. Led by handsome producer Carl, dotty medium Stella and pleasant-but-nondescript historian Guy, they fill the house with wiring, cameras, lights and people. But when filming starts, things soon go wrong. The crew turn out to be using dodgy tricks. Carl refuses to believe in ghosts in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. And Stella stirs up a new and malevolent spirit, more dangerous than any that have been known at Greystones Hall before, who seems to have a violent dislike of Adam’s art.

As Carl and Stella disappear and the local vicar is powerless to help, Adam turns to Guy—who has a secret of his own—for help. Together they must solve a centuries-old mystery involving lost paintings, a priest hole, and a death that might have caused all the negative energy in the house. But that’s not all the pair discover, on a night of adventure that also brings unexpected romance…

Overall then, writing blurbs can be challenging. But they’re something I don’t mind too much, and can be useful in getting a book’s main points straight in my own mind. And compared to the complete and utter torture that is writing a synopsis, they’re a gentle stroll in the local park.

**If that blurb really did inspire you, you can find more about Ghosts Galore including a buy link at my website here.

And don’t forget to check out the other webring members’ blogs to find out how they do or don’t cope with blurbs!

K.L. Noone :: A.L. Lester :: Nell Iris :: Ofelia Grand :: Holly Day :: Addison Albright :: Ellie Thomas :: Amy Spector :: Lillian Francis

Image credit: Steven R Southard



Fiona lives in a slate cottage within stone-throwing distance (never a good idea in Glass houses...) of England's largest lake. She enjoys history, gardening and photography, and rarely has her nose far from the pages of a book - or a cup of tea.

10 thoughts on “Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Blurbs

  1. I loved Ghosts Galore! ❤️ And like you, Fiona, I tend to write my blurbs after I’ve finished a story as I’m another panster. I’m not sure what’s going to happen until I’m actually writing it!

  2. You and Amy seem to handle blurbs pretty similarly. I couldn’t write one before the story is done, but great if it helps you!

    1. Yeah, I can’t do it early in the process – I need to have the story pretty much worked out before I ‘get’ it well enough to write a blurb. 🙂

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