Kindle Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
499 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The first draft of my newest novel is nearing completion, so now it's time for my least favorite part: writing a blurb. Here are my first two attempts. I think they're both a bit dreadful, so bash away, please.

#1
This past year has been rough for Deborah. First, the death of her husband Dave during a hiking trip to their favorite trail, then her best friend finally losing her battle with cancer. On top of it all, she's burdened by the secrets she promised her late husband that she would never reveal.

Their granddaughter, Ashley, has struggled at school since her parents' divorce several years back, but this past semester her grades plummeted and she spurned most of her friends. She's dismayed when her father informs her that she'll be sent to a small town on the other side of the state to stay with Deborah for a month while he's away on business. That's enormously preferable to spending any time with her absent mother, but at seventeen, she resents the notion that she needs a babysitter.

Ashley has her share of secrets, too. Secrets that she's afraid to share with anyone.

Two damaged people, fifty years separating their ages. Can they find in each other common ground to rise above their painful secrets and memories?
#2
Meet Ashley. She's seventeen, although you'd never guess that from the way her over-protective, single dad hovers over her. Now that he's called away on business, he's calling on her grandmother to babysit and shipping her halfway across Colorado to be watched over.

Meet Deborah - Deb to her friends. She's still mourning the deaths last year of her husband, who died while the two of them were on a hike, and her best friend, who lost her battle with cancer. She's thrilled to have her granddaughter visit for a month, hoping to immerse herself in the outdoor adventures they used to share when Ashley was little.

Ashley and Deb have secrets. Painful secrets, secrets buried in guilt. Deb's secrets can never be revealed - not without betraying promises to her late husband. Ashley's secrets are weighing her down, undermining her future, destroying her friendships.

Two damaged people, fifty years separating their ages. Can they find in each other common ground to move beyond their painful secrets and memories?
In case you haven't guessed, the working title is Secrets and Memories. That could change.

Thanks in advance for comments, suggestions, and critiques.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,713 Posts
As to your second blurb attempt, it never works to talk to the reader directly, so I would scrap that.

As to the title, you might want to spiff it up. It's your first attempt at grabbing attention, so you have to make it exciting. "Primary Secrets...Blood, Gore and Secrets...Deadly Secrets." Play around with some power words. :eek:)

To start your blurb, trying hitting the reader right between the eyes. (Of course, I have no idea what your book is about, so take this with a grain of salt. I'm just trying to show you how to make it more dynamic. Lots of details might not be a good thing.)

***
It was not enough that Deborah already lost so much, now she was left with secrets she didn't dare tell. Her granddaughter had problems of her own, and neither were too happy about being pushed into spending time together. Nevertheless, Deborah was determined to make the best of it. That is, until she learned her granddaughter had secrets of her own.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
It might help if you told us what the secrets are. Not that those would be included in the blurb, but knowing the secrets would help us know how to construct a blurb to best exploit your story's hook. If Ashley's secret is that she is pregnant, that would be a very different story than if her secret was that she has accidentally summoned Cthulhu and it is living in her father's basement. 

I think you can probably trim this down to sharpen the focus. Is it critical for your prospect to know that her husband dies on their favorite hiking trail? That may be a vital piece of the story, but does someone need to know that in order to make the decision to buy the book? Could you get the same result by just saying she was recently widowed? Same with Ashely. The pieces that look important to me in that paragraph are: divorced parents, mom is gone, grades plummet and she is alienated from friends. In the story, these all happen over time. In the blurb, they all happen in one or two sentences. I don't think we need "small town across state" in the blurb.

I would try putting the part about Ashley moving in with Deborah in the third para. And I would try to avoid the question at the end. Questions don't often work because the answer is usually obvious. And that just irritates the snarky ones among us.

Hope that helps a little. If you post a bit more info about your story, maybe someone who knows what they are doing will be by to give you some real advice :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
499 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great comments and questions, folks. Yes, I'm sure it would help to describe more about the secrets to those of you trying to help me out here. Major spoilers ahead:

Ashley (17): parents divorced, much to her relief since she had a terrible relationship with her mother. Her secret: a group of teens have been verbally bullying a boy (Robert) she's known through school for a number of years, labeling him as gay and tormenting him. She manages to avoid the bullies for a long time, but when they turn their attention on her, she joins in on bashing Robert, who overhears her remarks. He commits suicide, and she feels she's partly to blame.

Deborah (67 - Ashley's paternal grandmother): Gladly agrees to have Ashley stay with her while her son (Ashley's father) Aaron is away on business for a month. Ashley doesn't think she needs any "babysitting" and isn't happy with being shipped off to a tiny town where Deb lives. Deb's secret: her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and wanted to commit suicide before he became too confused to do so and before others realize he has the disease. He insists that Deb keep both his disease and the suicide a secret. They make it look like he simply collapses and dies while the two are out hiking, but actually Deb assists her husband in taking his life.

Deb and her late husband were avid hikers & climbers. Ashley is a bit of a tomboy, but has low self-confidence and has been over-protected by her father. Deb introduces Ashley to outdoor adventures, gradually building up her confidence and self-esteem.

There's a suspenseful climax toward the end where Ashley demonstrates how much she's grown since the start of the story.

As I wrote this, I was thinking along the lines of a Jodi Picoult novel looking at strong character development around a moral or ethical issue. My previous books have been more slanted toward suspense / thriller genres. I consider my "author brand" to be "Books with Altitude" and all have had settings and key scenes with outdoor adventure as the key element (rock climbing, backcountry skiing, hiking).

Is this Women's fiction? Yes
Is this YA? Yes (If the heavy themes in The Fault in Our Stars are YA, this could be, too)
Is this Gay fiction? Yes (there's more I didn't reveal about Ashley's story, but will if pressed)

Last night as I was falling asleep, I starting thinking of renaming this book What If. After searching that phrase on Amazon this morning, I think it's been used much too often already.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Okay you need to make it sound a bit more exciting and uplifting.  Unless there is market for depressing books. 

Anyway you need to reveal at least one of those secrets in blurb.  The reader will want to know what the central conflict is. 

Try something starting something like:
Deborah killed her husband because she loved him.  He had asked her to but Dehorah still can't stop seeing the blood on her hands.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
499 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok...trying again. (P.S. there's no blood involved in the story) Before writing this version, I spent some time reading blurbs for several Jodi Picoult novels + Tuesdays with Morrie for inspiration.

A year after he died, Deborah is still deeply torn over her role in her husband's death, but there's no one she can confide in without breaking a solemn promise. The prospect of a month-long visit from her only grandchild feels like an opportunity to begin her arduous climb out of the twin burdens of grief and guilt.

Ashley is no longer the cheerful, confident tomboy her grandmother remembers from when they all lived close by. No one realizes that the suicide of a student at her high school - a boy she barely knew - has cut her to the core. Ashley's secrets are weighing her down, undermining her future, destroying her friendships.

Two damaged people, fifty years separating their ages. Each has faced a moral dilemma and has made choices driven by self-preservation. In this novel filled with sadness and laughter, with fear and courage, two people turn to love to lift them beyond their painful secrets and memories.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,722 Posts
Wingpeople said:
Ok...trying again. (P.S. there's no blood involved in the story) Before writing this version, I spent some time reading blurbs for several Jodi Picoult novels + Tuesdays with Morrie for inspiration.
Literal blood not physical blood.

Your last blurb sounds better than the others.

Now just for my own curiousity, real or fictitious small town. My first thought was Lamar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
499 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The town is on the Western Slope and is remarkably similar to Montrose... :)

P.S. I grew up in Denver and retired to Montrose 9 years ago. I've featured Denver in my 3 other novels and thought I'd give Montrose a shot this time around (without actually naming names)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,722 Posts
Wingpeople said:
The town is on the Western Slope and is remarkably similar to Montrose... :)

P.S. I grew up in Denver and retired to Montrose 9 years ago. I've featured Denver in my 3 other novels and thought I'd give Montrose a shot this time around (without actually naming names)
Other side of the state.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
excellent idea, reading the blurbs from similar works. Your new blurb sounds much better to me. I trimmed and rearranged it a bit. See what you think:

Deborah is deeply torn over her role in her husband's death, one year ago. She cannot confide in anyone without breaking a solemn promise. The prospect of a month-long visit from her only grandchild, Ashley, feels like a respite from her grief and guilt.

Ashley is no longer the cheerful, confident tomboy Deborah remembers. No one realizes that the suicide of a boy she barely knew has cut her to the core. Ashley's secrets weigh her down, undermining her future, destroying her friendships.

Two damaged people, fifty years separating their ages. Each faced a moral dilemma and made choices driven by self-preservation. In this novel filled with sadness and laughter, with fear and courage, two people turn to love to lift them beyond their painful secrets and memories.

I'm not sure about the last para. The experts say never talk directly to the readers and never tell the readers what emotions they will feel while reading the book. But that may not apply to this genre. I just don't know. Is there a way you can continue in the tone of the first two paras and leave the reader wanting to know how it all works out? Something about these two women accepting each other, relying on each other, confronting their past, wrangling their secrets or some such? I'm not nailing it, but maybe I'm close?

Either way, you are definitely moving in the right direction here. Hope that helps. 

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
499 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for those suggestions, Alex.

I've also read the "expert" advice on not talking directly to the readers nor telling them how they'll feel. But after reading a number of blurbs from authors and specific novels which seem similar in tone to what I'm trying to achieve, I see examples of exactly those techniques. These are books which have all reached mega-top-selling status, so I wonder if that advice can be ignored when your name is Jodi Picoult or Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie) or John Green (The Fault in our Stars). Is it the genre or is it the reputation of the author?

Back to the drawing board with your suggested edits...
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top