A Lesson on Writing Blurbs

Some time back I volunteered to attempt to write a blurb for another author for his new novel, Lightning of Her Own, because he said he did not understand how to write blurbs and needed some help.

Levi Montgomery graciously accepted my offer to help based on what I learnt from Holly Lisle, and studying best selling novels I own. He forwarded the ebook, and his first attempt at the blurb.

Levi’s first try:

When Amarylla leaves home with her father, at his insistence, to try to find the secret to regaining electricity, all she wants is to go back home, to go back to her operas and her riding lessons and the school that has taught her everything she ever thought she’d need to know.

The farther she gets from home, the more she changes. She wants Marlowe, and she wants to grow up, and she wants to know all of the things her school didn’t teach her. She wants to know what all this means. Oddly enough, in the end, all she wants is to go home again, but as a woman, not as a child.

I read the first 50 pages, as suggested by Jennie Ruesch, linked on my blog Writing a Blurb and wrote one paragraph on the Protagonist, one paragraph on the Antagonist, and the problem needed to be solved. Note this process was taught by Holly Lisle in How To Think Sideways.

I came up with the following:

Seventy two years after the alien invasion of caterpillar-like creatures and resulting riots and looting by humans that destroyed society, one group of humans banded together to lead a normal life using steam technology, leaving the bugs outside the protective walls of their City.

Their engineer leader, Foster, wants his daughter to learn of the world they live in, so forcefully takes her on a dangerous trip across America to regain the knowledge of electricity, dodging alien caterpillars and lawless humans along the way.

Sixteen year old Amarylla, forced to leave the security of her home, accompanies her father across bug infested lands, but only wants to go home, to her operas and riding lessons, and the school that taught her everything she ever thought she’d need to know, until she got friendly with one of the guards.

I continued to read to the end, and loved the story.

Then I looked at the hook, emotion of characters to engage the reader, and a promise and came up with my final attempt.

My Final Take on Blurb (161 words)

Seventy two years after the alien invasion of large caterpillar-like creatures resulting in the loss of electricity and breakdown of society, one group of humans banded together to lead a normal life using steam technology inside their walled city.

When Engineer Foster received a letter from a man he does not know promising the knowledge of electricity, he undertakes a dangerous trip across the country to locate the town Billings and the man who sent the letter.

Sixteen year old Amarylla, forced to leave the security of her home and accompany her father and his guards across bug infested lands, only wants to go home, to her operas and riding lessons, and the school that taught her everything she knew.

With her life in danger, Amarylla is forced to grow up and learn to fire weapons and drive the horse drawn wagon, but will it be enough to survive the dangerous trip through lands filled with alien caterpillars and lawless humans?

I sent my final attempt back to Levi, explaining the steps I took to get the final results and waited to see what he got from my suggestions.

Well, here it is.

Lightning of Her Own

2,000 miles.

By train, by steam bus, by river boat, by horse-drawn wagon.

Through an alien dystopia.

To find herself.

Can she find what she needs inside before what’s outside kills her?

I am now pleased to say, I think he wrote an excellent blurb. Check it out at his site.

I have learnt so much from my attempt and from reading what Levi finally wrote.

I recommend reading this book, and look forward to the next in Levi’s Bugfall Trilogy.

What do you think? Does the final blurb get your attention? What about the cover? Grab your attention?

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2 comments so far

  1. ekcarmel on

    Interesting. I really enjoyed seeing the progression.

    The final blurb was a bit more stark than I like, but much more mysterious-sounding, which is perhaps what the author was working toward. It definitely got my attention, though.

    • djmills on

      Yes, it again proves we learn how to do something then throw out the rules. It still works because it gets attention. However, I liked the one I ended up with as well as Levi’s final result.

      Strangely, if I read Levi’s blurb, I personaly would not purchase the story, because I do not read emotional main characters, (boring). However, because I read the story before the blurb was created I know it is an adventure, and exciting, with good conflict. 🙂


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