The Power of a Good Blurb

Last night, I was in Writing Land, writing away, when the man of the house walked through and told me the movie he had just started was way creepier than he expected.

“These people are hiking through the woods, far from civilization, and there’s this old music from the 40s or something playing–they all hear it. And they found this hat, the type of hat from that era, and one of the guys put it on and refuses to take it off.”

I said, “Give me five minutes to finish this thought and I’ll come watch it with you.”

I should have prefaced this by saying: Writing Land is a single mass of land with one real inhabitant and several imaginary inhabitants on a planet 175 light years away from Earth. And when I’m there, the happenings of Earth are a slight tickle on my pinky toe that I’d be too busy to take my fingers off the keys to scratch if my pinky toe existed in Writing Land, which it doesn’t.

So in other words, this abandonment of Writing Land never happens. I didn’t even think it could happen. And I doubt it will ever happen again.

But that little blurb up there that roused me from Writing Land is exactly what we need in a query letter.

If you’re wondering, the movie was YellowBrickRoad, and it was worth the sacrifice. (Even if the people in my head disagree.)

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18 thoughts on “The Power of a Good Blurb

  1. I don’t normally watch creepy movies, because they effect me on some weird energetic level and I end up feeling like **** for days afterward. But after reading that blurb, I’m tempted. :) GREAT advice for the query letter. Something I’ve never written (bookishly speaking, that is).

    • The idea of Hell would be a lot more effective if, instead of fire and chains, it featured an endless cycle of query letter writing. But you’re right. The blurb should be just that. Tempting. What could you say about your novel that would pull an animal lover away from a basket of kittens? An 18-year-old boy away from the keys to a parked Ferrari? Etc.?

  2. I know I have never seen the movie, nor likely ever will -am a wuss with scary. Still the story and the notion people would simply wander away from their homes is bazaar and intriguing. Though I have thought about wandering away a few times.

    Also intriguing is the notion of your writing land. Yours is 175 light years away. I wonder would it be more beneficial if it was closer or further away.

    • Being married to a horror movie buff, I must be desensitized to scary movies. They rarely affect me. Paranormal Activity is the only one that made me afraid to be in a room alone. But it’s mostly worn off.

      My writing land would probably be more beneficial to me if it was nuked.

      • Slasher and horror movies I simply don’t get the appeal. Am more of a ‘Out of Africa’, ‘Lost in the Wild’ kinda dude.

        Nuke your writing land! Get outta town. Have never had a writing land, though I did have my creative/imaginative land ‘nuked’. Thanks to the Gods or evolutionist or whatever bits of it survived and are now showing signs of re-propagation -it is the nature of the beast within us.

      • I’m a horror buff too—everything except movies where they torture people. I want creepy not gory. If a pet animal makes an appearance in the beginning of the movie, I immediately stress, it usually means it’s going to die—if I stick with the movie, I’m on standby to cringe.

        It’s interesting to be let in on your personal Writing Land. Have you noticed that even when you’re distracted from Writing Land, whether by a movie or book or your job, you’re still absorbing ideas by osmosis and thinking, “I need to look that up.” It’s like, not a choice. I never actually notice that I’m doing this so it feels good to try to describe it.

        Nope, can’t be killed off, just at times not acted upon, just to come back tougher than before.

        • Yes, absolutely. Writing Land always has a grip on me, even when I’m not there, and the most random detail in my day can transport me back without my permission. It’s definitely not a choice. And on the days I can’t write… Writing Land plays without me. Words build until my brain is about to explode. You know!!

          I think “less is more” applies to the horror genre more than anything. I’m with you. I want to be creeped out not grossed out. Have you seen Paranormal Activity? Those footprints in the–what was it, baby powder? Oh man.

    • Yeah, what is it about those details? It’s all in the details. He could have said, “A group of people is hiking through the woods of New Hampshire to investigate another group of people that disappeared there” and I would have been like, “Eh. Get out. I’m writing.” Which is what usually happens.

  3. No doubt your hubby put some thought into the right words that would lure you away from what you were doing. He did an excellent job, and you’re right. This is the way to describe: short, precise and provocative.

    Just between me and you, I don’t understand people who haul off and write a novel right out of the gate, but…hey, whatever. The short story–although a different style–is the first baby step, and another and another. IMHO.

    • I should claim he’s that clever, but he’s incapable of being manipulative. Clever about other things, yes. Not this. haha

      But that’s what was so good and effective about it. He was intrigued, so he could easily pass it on by bringing up exactly what was intriguing. We as writers need to be able to look at our novels like this. Cut it down. Simplify. What makes it cool? Different? Tempting to read?

      I don’t understand people who would write a novel EVER. :)

  4. Love your last comment (as well as the easy understanding you gave me of the query)…so much advertising is manipulative, but that is not what makes a query effective.

    Happy New Year, Robin

    • Yes, and I think the same goes for that back cover blurb. How many times have you been so excited to read a book based on its back cover blurb, only to finish the book and be disappointed it didn’t live up? Then you reread the back cover blurb like, “That’s a stretch.” Not cool.

      Happy New Year to you, too!

  5. Kay, I just found your blog so I am reading back a bit. Thank you for explaining Writing Land to me. I always wonder where I am when I write. I will look for you there :)
    Laura

    • Hi Laura, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I can’t figure out how to subscribe to your blog! Is that link disabled on yours or has my day been longer than I thought?

      • Kay, your day might be long, but the follow link wasn’t showing on my blog. I just figured it out and now it is at the bottom of my pages.

        I love that you commented at 11:11. That is another name for my first book :)

        Have a lovely Sunday!
        Laura

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