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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.


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Sunday 7 March 2010
Having looked at Synopsis, and with the RNA lunch imminent – with publishers and agents attending - it seems wise to look at blurbs. Time spent composing yours is never wasted for when the time comes and you hear the magic words, “Tell, me, what is your book about?” instead of being tongue-tied, you will be prepared and word perfect . A SYNOPSIS TELLS A BLURB SELLS. Every writer should have this mantra pinned above their desk.So what is a blurb? It is a précis of your novel in as few words as possible. Some can compose one in a minute, others labour over it more than they agonised when writing the book itself. There are no fixed dimensions, but the shorter the better. What is it for? It has two functions, both are to entice. 1.You can never be sure when you are going to be asked what you are writing, and a wise person will have a presentation ready. It might help if you think of it as a sound bite. Those times you’ve been asked I bet you hated the description you gave. No doubt you waffled, there was a fair sprinkling of ums and ahs as you tried valiantly to encapsulate it and give an idea of its flavour. You did not need the glazed look of the person who asked to know that you were boring their socks off – don’t worry, you are not alone. Anyone describing their beloved opus always reminds me of someone recounting a dream, interesting to them and dull to you. Like the synopsis, it is difficult to achieve. Imagine, you’ve written an historical novel. The heroine is beautiful and innocent. The hero is handsome and unsuitable. You describe them down to their ages. Her wicked aristocratic guardian, lives in a spooky castle, you are particularly proud of this castle and you describe it at length. There follows a complicated explanation of lies and falsehoods and tangled tales of illegitimacy and incest. By now the publisher/agent has moved on – mentally if not physically. You have managed to make your well crafted, compelling and exciting novel sound boring and unoriginal. But if you say: An 18th C tale of lust, incest, of innocence betrayed but love triumphant . . . Hopefully ears will prick up and they will ask to know more. Now you don’t repeat the long boring explanation. Of course you won’t. For you will have prepared the 2nd function of the blurb. 2.This 2nd blurb is longer and apart from interesting agents et al prior to publication it is what will be used in the front of the book to entice the reader in the book shop. Making it interesting enough to make them buy. It is longer but it is spare for all that. It is skilled writing for you are distilling over 100,000 words down to as few as possible. One of my own : Avarice. 1. Three men, three continents, a three million wager - find the elixir of life. What is the secret and who triumphs? (22 words) 2 Three men meet when a great storm traps them in the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. Each has been marked by his childhood and have carried that damage into their adult lives. In the bar they are joined by Guthrie Everyman, an immensely wealthy novelist and playwright who challenges them to a treasure hunt to find the Elixir of Life. Each man wagers a million pounds. Each man needs to win. But what is the Elixir and which one finds it? (81 words) I hope to see some of you at the RNA party, with blurbs to astonish!


  1. You make it sound so easy!
    See you at the lunch.


  2. I am dreading the moment, you made yours look so easy. I am working on it...slowly.

  3. Thank you for such great advice, I'll definately use it to prepare my blurb.

  4. Thanks for the succinct advice and particularly the examples of how to 'craft' the blurb. Interesting how you have ended each with a question - making it sound all the more exciting and intriguing!

  5. A witty, wise and succinct blog where the best-selling author triumphs in her role as the writers' writer!