Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ideas for writing blurbs

By: Stephanie Burkhart 

We've done it – we've written a great novel. It's going through edits with a publisher and then we get the email that makes us bite our nails to little bits:

Can you write a back cover blurb no more than 150 words and a 25 word short blurb?

Blurb writing is not easy. You've got a novel/novella/short story that you've got to sum up in a couple of paragraphs and you've got to make it sound jazzy so it will entice a reader to buy and read.

I try the following: I introduce the hero/heroine (main characters), state what the challenge is and what's at stake. My goal is to write paragraphs. It seems like a lot, but it all comes down to verb choice for me. After I write an initial rough draft blurb, I circle my verbs and strive to find stronger ones. "Went" and "was" are two that I try to replace. If I have an adverb, I try to eliminate it. Then I examine my adjectives and look for punchier ones – tormented, hunted, captivated, destroyed, ruined, enthralled, enchanted are all stronger words that come to mind.

When writing a short 25 word blurb, I try to state who my heroine (or hero) is and the challenge they face.

I'd love to hear your tips and what works for you.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Married with two boys, she lives in California. In her spare time, she's a soccer mom, dance mom, cub & boy scout mom, and a writer. Her story, "Made in America," won 8th place in Mainstream Fiction in the 82nd Annual Writer's Digest Contest this year.  You can find my story on my website under "short stories" at:


  1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for the great, helpful post and congratulations on the Writer's Digest contest win! Fantastic!

    One bit of blurb advice: Write the blurbs FIRST, not after The End. It is very difficult to summarize your main character's goal, plot and theme in 150 words (and a 25-word version) if you haven't set out with that road map in the first place. With the blurb as a clear, concise plan for your novel, you will save yourself a lot of revisions and painful efforts to cram your meandering story into a blurb!

  2. Suzanne, thanks so much for the tip. I agree, it's very difficult to sum up your goal in 150 words!

  3. Stephanie, great tips. I simply write a short description of what I think the story is about and then revise and tweak it down to where it works.

  4. Good idea for an article. What I do is ask the author to write a blurb. *laugh* However, I do have to write many, but not all, of the blurbs for the 4RV books. I just write what I think will give an idea of the contents but what will interest the reader.