In Defence of Short Blurbs

I have mentioned in other comments to topics here that I prefer short blurbs. These are commonly called elevator pitches because they are designed to fit the scenario of a brief elevator ride when a busy potential publisher says, “Tell me about your story.”

You have ten to fifteen seconds to win her over. That is also about the time your blurb has to hook a potential reader before they move on to the next book. Ten or fifteen seconds is three or four dozen words, so you do not have time for detail; only time for an intriguing glimpse at characters, situation, conflict and tone — and a hook.

A Short blurb is useful where offering more information would give away plot twists and reveal spoiler information. In the example below, the story has three major twists in the opening chapter, as well as twists in each of the next few. I’m still refining this blurb, so thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we watch two lonely people trying to break out of the shells they’ve created. Set in 2016 London, the story weaves intense passion and tender love through a world of extreme wealth while a tragic past conspires to destroy.

Are they butterfly people or are they regular people who have figurative emotional firewalls?

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I don’t understand your ‘butterfly people’.

Let me rephrase.

Speculative fiction is a thing. If I am hearing the elevator pitch, I have no idea if the shells are literal structures these people made (like cocoons) or if this is figurative language explaining they were emotionally isolated. I don’t know if it’s Fantasy or just Literary Fiction, when I hear the opening. Magical Realism?

But, I’m guessing, now, it’s figurative language in a pitch for Literary Fiction.

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Aha! I see where the blurb may have confused you. Yes, this is closer to Literary Fiction than anything else, though it began as a ChickLit/Romance for a contest.

Would it help if I made it social shells? Or something similar?

I think the keys words to change would be “watch” and “they created”. Those words in particular suggest we are viewing a literal structure.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we watch two lonely people [adverb?] trying to break out of their shells they’ve created. Set in 2016 London, the story weaves intense passion and tender love through a world of extreme wealth while a tragic past conspires to destroy.
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Thank you, @KaranSeraph, this allows me to break out of the shell I’ve created. :innocent: I like your suggestion. :heart:

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I find this quite interesting as I have a long blurb that gives away some of my book’s spoilers. I’ve never heard of this “short blurb” before. I think I might give it a try.

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Yes, @Lumi, it’s a fine way to prevent giving away the story’s twists.

Yeah, my blurb sucks so I just rewrote it in elevator pitch style. It still sucks though :rofl:

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Your potential readers will now have a shorter time suffering. :sunglasses: One of the benefits of a short blurb is that there is less to edit. :thinking:

That’s a fun way to think about it :joy:

I think this blurb will really help since ever since I wrote up my old one, my readers have been decreasing so let’s see how this one goes

True, lol

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I like the idea of not writing a 400 word blurb to catch a readers attention and hold it, but I think another good tactic that might allow for more room to give necessary detail in a blurb is to write a hooking first sentence. After all, the first sentence is what most people see in the description and what they read first, so if you look them with that, they’re more likely to click and read the rest whether it’s 10 more words or 100. I don’t exactly do my blurbs elevator pitch style, but I don’t write essays about my book, I simply try to present the core things of the story without giving it all away, but still giving the reader a hook to make them want to know more.

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Exactly. Like the opening paragraph of the story pulls people in, the opening line of a blurb serves the same purpose. A blurb can extend beyond the initial elevator pitch, but first, the reader needs to be hooked.

If the blurb continues beyond the initial pitch, ensure it doesn’t shake the fish off the hook. The purpose is to intrigue the reader, so don’t give too much — it’s bait, not lunch.

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I like short blurbs, too! Similar to twitter pitches (which are pretty much the same as elevator pitches). Give me protagonist, conflict (stakes), and setting, and I’m good to go! An indication of genre and demographic (mg, ya, Adult) is always great, with maybe one or two comp titles.

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Exactly. And do it as briefly as possible using as many power words as comfortably fit. With input from @KaranSeraph and others above, I’ve rewritten my original blurb to:

As Valentine’s Day approaches, two lonely people begin breaking out of their social shells. Set in 2016 London, the story weaves intense passion and tender love through a world of extreme wealth while a tragic past conspires to destroy.

So, we have Protagonists — two lonely, socially shy/reclusive people finding love.
Setting — Contemporary London in an environment of extreme wealth.
Conflict (stakes) — Coming out socially. New love. Someone/something from the past conspires to destroy.

From this, can we gather the genre is a combination of Romance and Mystery/Thriller?

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i think the blurb is OK

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In 1936, Lucienne Müller visited the Berlin Olympics. Not only did she see how the Nazis improved Germany, but she also developed a crush on a certain young officer, Axel Ackermann. It’s a school girl crush, vented out through her diaries where she writes to him, letters that are never meant to be sent.

When he returns to her life six years later, she realizes he’s not the fictional character she made him out to be in her writings. When the lies give way to truth, Lucy doesn’t know which side is in the right, and which is wrong. Will she choose correctly?
———
Help?

Here’s a quick rewrite to remove redundant and weak words/phrases and to juggle a bit. Does this still capture the essence?

In 1936, Lucienne Müller visited the Berlin Olympics, and saw how the Nazis had improved Germany. A young officer, Axel Ackermann, captured her schoolgirl fancy, and back home, she vented her crush through her diaries, writing letters never meant to be sent.

When he reenters her life six years later, she realizes he’s not the fictional character she had portrayed. Lies give way to truth, and Lucy doesn’t know which side is right or which is wrong. Will she choose correctly?

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Thank you!

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