Last week, we started talking about how to write a book blurb for your story and began with the first step, which is a hook. You can check that out here.
So, if the first step is creating that hook, the second step, according to Shayla Raquel is dangling the characters.
What does that mean?
It means that the thing that propels your story needs to be in your book blurb.
Or as Shayla says, “Your characters are the story.”
You only have 150 to 200 words in that blurb, so you can’t tell your potential reader everything about those adorable characters, but you want to give them some details to hook onto.
She uses an example of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder to show how to do this:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hoovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
You see how it tells us a bit about Cinder and what’s wrong with her world?
- She’s 16.
- Her wicked stepmother and the world thinks she’s a mistake
- She has the hots for Prince Kai
- Her younger stepsister is sick and she gets the blame.
You can see from that blurb what step three is, right? It’s that there is a conflict set up. Cinder vs her mom, maybe against society, and so on.
And there are stakes, which brings us to step four, which is “determine the consequences,” Shalya says, writing,
“When there’s conflict, there are consequences to a character’s actions. What hangs in the balance for your characters?
“Formula: Conflict (“Character must do this”) + Stakes (“Or this will happen”) = Consequences”
And an example from Chris McGeorge’s Guess Who blurb
“If he doesn’t find the killer, they all will die.”
Hard to get more explicit than that. Next week, we’ll have the final step.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Always know the consequence – Pogie
This is from Dabble Writer.
“Choose three objects at random, then look them up in a dream dictionary. Write down what each object symbolizes and imagine the person who would dream about them. What is the dreamer going through? Build a story from there.”
But instead, make that person, your main character. How can you weave in those images into the subtext of your story? How can you weave in their meaning?
PLACES TO SUBMIT
Since 2005, The New Verse News has covered the news of the day with poems on issues, large and small, international and local. It relies on the submission of poems (especially those of a politically progressive bent) by writers from all over the world. The editors update the website every day with a poetic take on a current and specific headline. See the website for guidelines and examples. Then paste your non-simultaneous submission and a brief bio in the text of an email (no attachments, please) to nvneditor(at)gmail.com. Write “Verse News Submission” in the subject line of your email.
For Issue 14, Jelly Bucket will feature a special section dedicated to neurodivergent writers. Guest edited by Nathan Spoon, we’re looking for creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, 10-minute plays, and art specifically from writers and artists who identify as neurodivergent. Submit via Submittable: General submissions ($2) thru 12/1. Special section (no fee) thru 12/15. jellybucket.submittable.com/submit
We’ll talk about the final step in her process next week.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!