Creator of Shadows is HERE!

Scarlet Rain Series

The third book in the Scarlet Rain Series is finally out! Creator of Shadows is out today, and continues the journey of the immortals, as they battle against Feoran and the darker forces behind him. Read on to find out more!

Blurb

When Lorenna is kidnapped by Feoran, the head of the vampyric Clan, it’s a dent in the Resistance. While she was expecting his twisted advances to her, she didn’t expect to feel something for him in return.

But that’s the least of her problems.

The city is more in ruins than ever, the Cuans being cut off one by one to prevent the rebellious humans taking over any part of New London. And after the discovery made at the Factory, armies of clones now walk the streets, ready to kill and trained viciously by their vampire masters.

The rebels must band together in full force, both to rescue their beloved witch from Feoran’s clutches, and to give the final push against the Clan. But a traitor in the heart of their inner circle is plotting with a vampire who wants more than they have, threatening to bring everything they have worked for tumbling down around them.

Can Lorenna gain her freedom to help her friends, and can they finally cut the head off the serpent that is the Clan? Or will humanity forever remain in its iron grip?

The Cover!

Creator of Shadows

Where can I get a copy?

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CAN

Amazon AUS

Kobo

Where can I find out more about the author?

I’m Miranda Stork, and I’m addicted. Addicted to writing and reading books, anyway. And chocolate, but that’s another issue – no interventions, please.

I live in the middle of a forest in North Yorkshire, spending my spare time as the wild woman of the woods, scaring small children and upsetting the sheep. On the days that I feel like being civilized, or I haven’t got any unicorns to ride, I sit down and pour the tumbling thoughts in my head out onto digital paper. Mainly the thoughts and characters come out in paranormal form, with a good smattering of romance, because everyone likes a good cuddle. But you can also find strong elements of thrillers, myths, and even dystopia amongst the pages of all my novels. I’ve wanted to write books ever since I first realised that fairytales were not the newspapers of the fairy kingdom, but the imaginings of actual people who wanted to tell fancy made-up stories to other people. From that moment, I was hooked.

Why do I write? Good question. It might be easier to just keep the stories in my head, or even just to write them for myself. But I want to share them. There is no greater delight for a writer than when a reader devours your book, and declares, “Something in that novel resonated with me. And I want MORE.” So grab your lucky clover and a baseball bat (there’s some nasty paranormal creatures where we’re going), eat the cookie with ‘eat me’ tagged on it, and enter through the tiny door into the world of Miranda Stork…

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Moon Rose Publishing

The First Impression

Now, I’m not talking about general first impressions, of course – but of book first impressions! 🙂 Annnd….I know this post was supposed to be up days ago, but apparently WordPress had other ideas, and didn’t post it for me. So here it is, anyway! 

We all know the important parts of putting a book together. Cover, editor, marketing…but what happens after the reader first clicks onto your Amazon page? They might take a look at the cover, and decide that they love it enough to look further. A cover may not bother them, and they’ll go straight to the blurb. (I made a big post on writing a blurb here.) After they’ve read it, been hooked enough to read a bit more, what next?

They’re going to take a ‘Look Inside’. And that’s where the book either lives up to its promise, or falls a little short.

Because the most important part of your entire manuscript – really! – is the very first line. Anyone who has ever had to write an essay knows that it must begin with a sentence that sums up everything the essay is about, your opinion, or your viewpoint. A manuscript is no different in that it must sum up the feeling of your entire novel, and hook someone is just a few words. First, let’s take a look at some great first lines, then we’ll see what sets them apart. (Just to note, first lines in any book are subjective, but I’ve tried to pick lines from classic books that I think most people will know pretty well, and most will agree on. 🙂 )

 

At least we passed the Snape test.

At least we passed the Snape test.

The Good Stuff

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  George Orwell, 1984

“I am an invisible man.” Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“Call me Ishmael.” Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

“All children, except one, grow up.” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.” Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?'” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

It's a blog, don't worry. We're all crazy around here. But we'll work out these damn opening lines together!

It’s a blog, don’t worry. We’re all crazy around here. But we’ll work out these damn opening lines together!

What’s The Idea?

What makes all these opening lines both so memorable and brilliant? What is it that they all have in common? Well the first important thing to note is that all of them, in one way or another, sum up everything the novel is about. Without having to delve further, the reader already has the seed of an idea of what the book is about. J.M. Barrie’s line immediately encapsulates Peter Pan. Melville’s line open up a complex web of ideas about the narrator, who really, is the character that the book revolves around as he tells it from his own viewpoint. Austen’s famous line also immediately gets to the heart of what the book about, and even without reading further, we almost certainly know there will be a romantic couple somewhere in the novel who do not instantly fall in love. 

So the first thing to consider is ‘does this first line get across the feel of my novel?’ I’m not saying that you have to give away everything in one sentence, but you have to set the tone. Take Orwell’s line, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” For those who have never read it, it’s a science-fiction novel, and it also falls neatly into a ‘modern’ genre; dystopian. This line sets the scene first with its description of the day -cold and bright. ‘Bright’ on its own could bring back memories of sunny days, but not when coupled with ‘cold’. It brings to mind cold, bright places, such as the clinical areas of hospitals, or snowy days outside. It gives a clean, clinical feel to the first line, something quite emotionless and separate from anything comforting. Then there’s the second part of that line – the clocks were striking thirteen. This captures out attention straight away, because we know, in our world, clocks do no such thing. So this tells the reader that this is a strange, unforgiving place with different rules and ideas from our own. We already have the emotionless feel from the first part, so this can only tell us that clocks striking thirteen are not a good thing. This is a carefully crafted sentence, and each part of it, although short, gives the feel of the whole novel to the reader.

 

I must know more!

I must know more!

But What Else?

It can’t be as easy as setting the scene; there must be something more. And there is. It speaks directly to the reader. The quickest way to get a reader to connect with your book is to give them something they can relate to. On the surface, some of them don’t seem like they go too far into this, but unconsciously, you can connect with something in the line. Look at Lewis Carroll’s opening line – didn’t we all feel like that when we were small children? And with Ellison’s line, despite the fact none of us have ever actually been invisible (at least, I hope not!), we can feel the depression and loneliness behind the statement. Maybe it’s because at some point or another, we’ve all felt ‘invisible’ in some way, perhaps for some of us its because we’re the kind of people who empathise easily with people in a difficult situation. 

Leo Tolstoy’s first line actually does this twice. First by suggesting the truth we all know behind any family – that no matter how much you love each other, there will be arguments and fall-outs, and no doubt there’s one or two people in the family who don’t speak to each other at all! But this leads to the other truth he holds up, that we like to have a social veneer over ourselves and our loved ones, to prevent the rest of society from seeing what would be considered to be flaws or immoral ideas. This also encompasses what the novel itself is about, and weirdly, strikes as true today as when it was first written.

 

Go, create beautiful opening lines together. Or apart. Or in a room of people. You can literally write opening lines anywhere. LOL

Go, create beautiful opening lines together. Or apart. Or in a room of people. You can literally write opening lines anywhere. LOL

So To Sum Up…

An opening line needs to be the most powerful sentence you write in the whole novel. It has to connect with the reader, either by evoking an emotion, or by linking it to a universal truth we’ve all felt at one time or another. It also has to immediately sum up the entire book in just a few words. This is the ultimate synopsis, is that it sums up everything that can be expected from the book in one go.

The best way to go about it really, is to write your whole book, edit it, then come back to that first line again. Tweak it and play with it until it covers everything mentioned above – and any reader who loves your first line, is already eager for the rest of your book. 🙂

 

What lines do you guys like the best from novels? What’s your favourite opening line ever? 🙂

Snippet Time – Reaper’s Deliverance

Hey, everyone! 🙂 sorry for the lack of posts over the past week or so, I’ve had one of those weeks where you just don’t stop spinning around with work and family. You know the kind of week, right? Anyhoo, to make up for it, here’s a snippet from my new paranormal WIP, Reaper’s Deliverance, and I’ve got a post coming tomorrow about the first line of any book, so keep an eye out! Enjoy! 😀

(Also, my MC here swears quite a lot, but I’ve beeped them out. LOL)

*****

Copyright © Deklofenak at bigstockphoto.com

Copyright © Deklofenak at bigstockphoto.com

This is a joke. A sick joke one of the others is playing on me. Ryder let out a shaking breath, digging his nails into the soft flesh of his palms as he shook his head vigorously. Thoughts tumbled one over the other in his mind, shifting against each other in a flurry of colours and faces. The fear in the pit of his stomach squeezed at him, and he felt the hairs rising up on the back of his neck in response. Limbs trembling, he staggered backwards, away from the nightmare in front of him. The hooded figure simply crooked its finger again, letting out a deep, mournful sigh.

Ryder blew in and out a few calming breaths, drawing himself up and sticking his chin out proudly. Come on, Ryder, what the f*** are you frightened of? It’s a joke. Making the decision firm in his mind, he swallowed back the bile that threatened to erupt from his throat, striding across the hall confidently. His footsteps echoed sharply back to him, the hard rubber soles of his boots hitting the floor with uncustomary heaviness. Stopping just shy of the two figures, Ryder felt a chill travel along his skin, lifting hairs with it in its wake, as he parted his dry lips and passed his tongue across them. “So, who’s the joker? Is it Greg? Matthew? It was Matthew, wasn’t it?” He let out a dry chuckle, his nerves jumping at the croakiness of his own voice.

When no response came from either of the figures gazing down at him with their dark expressions, anger flared in his gut, his natural reaction to anything being withheld from him. It was a reaction every probation officer and police officer had ever seen from him. Temples throbbing, Ryder glanced from one to the other with wild eyes, screaming, “Tell me who the f*** it was!”

“It’s no use shouting, young man. I’m stood right in front of you, and I can hear perfectly, despite my age,” the cloaked man intoned. His voice boomed across the hall, and the resonance of the tone brought memories of worlds long since passed, of lives come and gone in the blink of an eye. He lowered his crooked arm, the fabric of his cloak whispering as he shifted down the steps to come closer. Ryder lifted his boot as if to take a step back, but held his ground, tensing his jaw. The man paused for a second, holding the staff out for the woman by his side to take. She gripped it silently, grasping the wood with both hands as she brought it before her and rested on it.

The man brought his hands up to the hood, pulling it back deliberately. Ryder bit his tongue to prevent whimpering as the deathly countenance of the figure was revealed. His skin was as pale as snow, both eyes milky-white and blind, no hair on his head. Wrinkles covered his skin, but there was something youthful about the way he held himself. “Gilbert Ryder Thompson, I am sorry to greet you here, for one so young. This,” he continued, gesturing around the grand space with raised arms, “is the Hall of Rest.”

“What is this? What’s going on?” Ryder bit out, taking the step back with his boot as he swallowed hard to coax saliva back into his dry mouth.

The figure fixed him with both milky eyes, and uttered, “My name is Ankou, and this is my wife, Morrigan. We are the Guardians of Death. It is our solemn duty to help those who have died…pass over into their next life.”

The words slammed into Ryder like the truck had slammed into his fragile body. Air seemed to evaporate from his lungs, and he clutched at his throat, wheezing for oxygen as his stomach twisted.

 

Taken from ‘Reaper’s Deliverance’, copyright © Miranda Stork, 2014. 

Plotter or Panster? And Why You Should Be Both.

A lot of authors often ask the same question – “Are you a plotter or a panster?”

In case you’re wondering what the term is, it basically describes your method of planning out and writing a book. A panster does it by ‘the seat of their pants’, hence the term, and there will be total freefall in where the story goes and how it pans out. Whereas a plotter, as the name suggests, plots everything from the ground up.

Now obviously, some genres will require more plotting than others, such as mysteries (where you will probably need to know whodunnit long before the actual beginning), and epic fantasies, where you will probably need to at least work out lands, names, maps, etc., before fingers touch keyboard. There’s no hard and fast rules to this, as it also depends on how you work yourself, and how you want the book to turn out. But personally, I think that every writer needs to be a little bit of both panster and plotter. And here’s why:

 

Pansters Have All The Fun

ANARCHY. It'll be fun, until someone loses a metaphorical eye.

ANARCHY. It’ll be fun, until someone loses a metaphorical eye.

And that they do! You simply get an idea in your head, decide your main character, and start typing. The story could go anywhere, and even you don’t know where it’s going, which can be an exciting way of writing. But only a few people can do this really well, with no plotting at all, and I personally only know about four people who can. Because there’s another danger with doing nothing but panstering. Aside from the fact you will have to keep making pauses when you write to check facts in your manuscript, you’ve got almost too much freedom.

Remember those prompts you used to get given in little school? Something like, ‘You go into the garden, and find someone has left a mysterious box. You go to open it and…write what happens next.’ Sounds good, right? Except it’s not that good. Sure, it gives a great beginning to work from, same as an idea for a story, but it’s missing a few things. There’s no twists, there’s no problems, there’s no story. (I read something yesterday on a blog that goes much deeper into all of this, and it’s a good article to read over. You can find it here, at Writer Unboxed.) This means that all the complex parts of a story have to be worked out as you’re writing the story, which may mean you have to go back to change huge chunks, or risk continuity errors. This seems like a really freeing idea, but in fact, it can be crippling. It’s easy to work on to start with, but as you get further into a long book, or into sequels to a series, you may find that not having a plan gives you too much freedom. Characters act out of character (pun!), events that shouldn’t happen will happen, and you’ll get confused over what happened in Chapter 3, Book 2.

As I say, there are some authors who can do this, and do it incredibly well. This isn’t everyone. But for most, and especially the average writer just starting out, this can end in one of those ‘I’ll-finish-it-one-day’ manuscripts.

 

Plotters Are Too Rigid

Of characters, people, OF CHARACTERS!

Of characters, people, OF CHARACTERS!

Just as the complete panster can have too much freedom, a complete plotter can have too little. It seems like a great plan. Detail every inch of the story out, know what’s going to happen around every bend, and get writing. Right? Except, no. If you plot everything out, you do have the pros of being able to check notes at a glance, not worry about continuity, and you’ll create a great story.

But by planning every tiny detail, you miss out the creative freedom that comes with intuitive writing. What if you’re creating the perfect scenario for your main character walking through the city, and – oh, wait. You can’t put that in, because otherwise you won’t be able to write out your next carefully-planned chapter, because it won’t make sense otherwise. By being so rigid, you cut out any chances of allowing the natural flow of writing as it occurs, which means that what you’re left with is a technically perfect book, but one that’s a bit flat. It’s a book you’ll enjoy, but it won’t have that memorable ‘something’, that leaves you unable to forget it the next day. Imagine it as a film you’ve once enjoyed, but wasn’t memorable. Good actors, probably well-written dialogue, and great scenes. But it lacked a spark behind it, a glimmer of talent unbridled by the twists the story should take.

Plotting is a great tool, and it’s a hugely important one. But relying on it entirely can take away your author’s ‘voice’, making it feel and seem like something only you could have written, and something with your particular talent behind it. But most good writers I know, however much they plot, always have a bit of panstering about them, which leads on to…

 

Plotter/Panster – A Bit Of Everything

Yes, you too can have it all and go crazy on the dancefloor. I mean...with your manuscript.

Yes, you too can have it all and go crazy on the dancefloor. I mean…with your manuscript.

This is what you’re aiming for, if you want the best manuscript you can come up with. Too much of either plotting or panstering can be too much of a good thing, so a balance is the way to go. But how do you set this up? (By the way, this method below completely depends on how you write, and what genre, so take it only as a basic of the basics.) Well, as we know panstering to start with will leave us with questions later on, let’s do the next thing.

Plotting The Framework

The best way to create the merest of plotting isn’t notes – it’s a synopsis. A synopsis is literally a very thinned-out, 2-4 page description of what happens in your story, including twists and the conclusion. I know, I know, that sounds crazy because it seems more rigid. But I promise it’s not. And this isn’t necessarily the synopsis you’ll put over to a publisher, (but it may be, depending on how well you write it, up to you) it’s just for you to use. Once you’ve got your idea, whether it’s a kind of character, an object, or even just a random jumble of thoughts that came to you in the shower, jot it down. Now decide how it’s going to begin, remembering that it’s always best to go straight into action, rather than slow build-up. This doesn’t mean it has to be a car chase, but put the reader straight into the middle of a conversation, or into the middle of someone moving house, whatever fits. The first line is hugely important (and there’ll be another post on that soon), as it’s the one that will hit your reader first, and the whole first chapter lives by the same rules.

After you’ve got your beginning, what happens next? This is where the plotting comes in useful. Create a problem for your character(s), something that won’t be worked out easily. Now onto the next chapter, where you aim to start resolving this for them. There should be minor twists along the way, backstabbing, secret conversations, whatever you want to use to keep the pace and the storyline flowing well. By the time you get to the middle, you should have half-resolved the problem. I say ‘half-resolved’, because you don’t want it completely worked out. But you need enough that the reader doesn’t sit there going, “Why haven’t the characters done the reasonable stuff yet?”. It should also lead onto another problem, for the second half of your book. (Not forgetting that ‘the middle’ is an objective term, and generally means you’ve hit this point, rather than a certain word count.) Here’s an example:

Beginning: Tracy has to move out of her apartment, because she’s being evicted.

Problem: She hasn’t got anywhere else to go.

Attempts to solve the problem: Friends put her up, but it’s not the same as having her own house, and she can’t fit all her stuff in.

Half-resolved: She finds a new flat (resolved), but she has to share it with a room-mate who she can’t stand, and irritates her. (new problem, so only half-resolved.)

The half-resolved issue leads onto another, bigger problem that needs to be solved. This would give you the next part of your story, with the same method as before. (Problem, attempts to solve problem), with the difference of actually solving and concluding the story. The other important thing as you’re working through your synopsis should be to make your characters change in some way. In the example above, Tracy could perhaps work out that she’s being difficult, and they end up being friends – or in a romance, perhaps she falls in love with her hunky but annoying room-mate.

So by now, you should have characters, a basic storyline, and where it’s headed. Don’t worry about filling in details, such as ‘why’ Tracy was evicted, why she finds the flatmate annoying, or why she can’t find a new flat. You just need the structure here. The important things to have are twists, beginning, conclusion, middle twist, and main characters. (Not even minor characters!) Now…for the panstering.

 

Making Some Changes

The beauty of not being so rigid on yourself with the synopsis means that you can now have some fun playing with it. You know where the beginning is going, so get going on it! As you know what the next twist will be, but not how your characters will get there, if gives you a chance to have freedom with how that will happen. Filling in the gaps of your synopsis are where you can put your panster hat on, and wave your story as it flows naturally from your fingers flying across the keyboard.

And if you want to change something? With a synopsis, rather than a chapter-by-chapter analysis of how the story will go, you’ve got the room to do it. Remember how there are ‘twists’ in there, but they’re not necessarily listed by chapter. So why not take one out, if it’s too long? Add another one, if you think of something great. Or even make them change places, if it makes more sense. When you do something chapter-by-chapter, you line the bricks up and number exactly where they should go. With a synopsis, you can lay the bricks out, but change the order and even add more bricks.

 

So here’s a good place to start, if you’re wondering how to make a start on that manuscript that’s running around your brain. Get your ideas down on (virtual) paper, and work out the major kinks, remembering Problem, Attempts to Fix, Half-Resolved, Attempts to Fix, Characters’ Changes, Conclusion. Then use your writing mojo to panster all the gaps inbetween, letting your characters show you how to link one plotting part to the next. 🙂

How about you guys? What methods do you use when working out a new story? Are a panster, plotter, or both?

Vigilante of Shadows Audiobook Snippet!

Hey everyone! 🙂 Exciting stuff today – I just heard the first two chapters of the audiobook for Vigilante of Shadows! I cannot describe to you how amazing it was to hear Aodhan’s ‘voice’ – I  nearly fell off my chair with excitement! Okay, so maybe I’m being overdramatic, but the narrator is doing an incredible job at turning my pages into real people.

So…do you want to have a listen? 😉 Here’s the snippet from the first chapter of the Vigilante of Shadows audiobook (I don’t want to give away too much, wait until it’s out – it’ll be worth it), as narrated by the awesome Matt Lloyd Davies. (You can find out more about him here – http://www.matthewlloyddavies.com/) You can check out all the other projects he has going here too, there’s some great audiobooks he’s already done for other authors.

 

 

Audio sample copyright © Miranda Stork

Narration copyright © Matthew Lloyd Davies

How Do You Go About Writing A Blurb?

Writing a blurb is a sneaky, tricksy piece of writing. It has to sell your book, but it has to tell enough story to hook people in without giving it away, and it has to give just the right amount that it tells readers something. But what’s too long, and what’s too short? Too secretive, and too ‘spoiler-y’? I personally like writing blurbs (I’m not saying mine are great by any stretch, but I think I get a good balance), but I know a lot of authors like to procrastinate with blurbs as much as possible until there needs to be one.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of an average blurb; (There’ll be some example ones further down)

 

Pull ’em in

Colour me intrigued...

Colour me intrigued…

The first line of your blurb is no different from the first line of your book. It’s got to be the most powerful sentence that will grip someone by the shoulders and scream, “I’m here! Look at me, damn it!” And also same as your book, go straight into the action. Here’s some first lines I personally love.

 

‘The President knows it’s a perilous, high-risk assignment.’ – The Target, David Baldacci

Former Broadway dancer and current agoraphobic Billy Shine has not set foot outside his apartment in almost a decade.’ – Don’t Let Me Go, Catherine Ryan Hyde

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother.’ – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

What if your whole world was a lie?’ – Allegiant, Veronica Roth

 

One thing all these blurb lines have in common, is that they are in the Top Ten at Amazon, which is a great indicator that the blurb has at least contributed in part to their sales. But another thing they have in common is that they make you ask all the right questions. Who? What? Where? When? Your interest is already piqued by that single sentence, so you’re going to read on, in the hope that this gets developed further.

Try making a statement that goes straight into the action, like the line from The Goldfinch, or asking a question, like the line from Allegiant. What do you want your readers to ask questions about? Does your main character have a deathly secret? Make a point of it. Has there been a horrific world event that your characters have to live in? Drop a hint about it. So let’s take a look at where this sentence might lead.

 

Develop It

I promise I'm doing work on this blurb. I promise. Honestly. Definitely.

I promise I’m doing work on this blurb. I promise. Honestly. Definitely.

You’ve hooked your reader in, but this isn’t enough. You’ve got to flesh out your initial hook a bit more, because you need to make sure the reader actually wants to find out more about this character or that world. If what follows your first sentence doesn’t carry on from it, or doesn’t make sense to the first line, readers will immediately switch off and get bored, as it doesn’t follow a valid line of events. Let’s peer at two of the blurbs from earlier again;

 

If he gives the order, he has the opportunity to take down a global menace, once and for all. If the mission fails, he would face certain impeachment, and the threats against the nation would multiply. So the president turns to the one team that can pull off the impossible: Will Robie and his partner, Jessica Reel. Together, Robie and Reel’s talents as assassins are unmatched. But there are some in power who don’t trust the pair. They doubt their willingness to follow orders. And they will do anything to see that the two assassins succeed, but that they do not survive.’ – The Target, David Baldacci

Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.‘ – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

 

These are the ‘bulk’ of your blurb, and the bit that’s really going to ensure your reader stays to find out more. You’ve hooked them with your first line, now give them a reason to stay. A major thing these two blurbs have in common is that they expand on the first line, while carefully dropping more hints that both intrigue and provide more information, while not giving away any major events. In the blurb from the Target, we’re told a little more about what the ‘high-risk assignment’ was that hooked us in the first line. It expands on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the blurb, but it then goes further into creating another question, while giving more information. Which option will the character choose? How? We’re then introduced to more information for the ‘how’, which in turn opens up all the questions about what events will happen in the novel.

In the blurb from The Goldfinch, it has the same structure, building on the first sentence and answering the ‘what’ and ‘why’. It then continues onto expanding more, but instead of expanding on the situation, it expands on the character. This is important, as it depends on whether your novel is character-driven, or events-driven. You could argue the first one is about the President, but any character could be substituted for him, and the blurb would still make sense. For the second blurb, it can only be about the main character. The blurb is a peephole into your book, so if you focus on characters in your book, but make the blurb heavily event-based, it won’t match up with the reader’s expectations. Tartt then also adds another question at the end of her blurb for the reader – what significance does the painting have?

 

Let’s Wrap It Up

*Disclaimer: Mordor and/or magical One Ring not required for finishing blurbs.

*Disclaimer: Mordor and/or magical One Ring not required for finishing blurbs.

Now we come to the grand finale of your blurb – the reason why a reader should buy your book. They’ve been hooked, they’re intrigued by the premise…but where is it leading? This is about how your book stands out from others, but bringing it down to a finely edited, neatly-sharpened point. This part should give them a reason to answer all the questions they’ve been asking so far. As we’ve already started a trend, let’s take a look at the final lines of the above two blurbs;

 

As they prepare for their mission, Reel faces a personal crisis that could well lead old enemies right to her doorstep, resurrecting the ghosts of her earlier life and bringing stark danger to all those close to her. And all the while, Robie and Reel are stalked by a new adversary: an unknown and unlikely assassin, a woman who has trained her entire life to kill, and who has her own list of targets–a list that includes Will Robie and Jessica Reel.’ – The Target, David Baldacci

‘As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.’ – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

 

For me personally, both of these would make me buy them. For The Target, we’re then told this isn’t just about the crisis from the President. It gets more personal, letting you know that the characters themselves are also in danger. This adds an extra element to the already exciting premise, a reason why this book will be different from any other book that has the President making  a hard decision. It also points out that there’s going to be internal conflict for at least one character, adding another layer to the onion.

In The Goldfinch, the blurb ends differently, but uses the same structure, as it’s for a different audience. It adds another layer to the story, letting the reader know this isn’t just about how young Theo deals with the events in his childhood, but there’s another ‘something’ as he grows older. And the ‘something’ is a dangerous event that might answer some of the earlier questions that were asked. It also ends on a ‘sell’ of the kind of book it is, perhaps encouraging the reader to buy it if they already know this is the kind of book they like. Another example of this is when a blurb might end on ‘Fans of xxxx would also enjoy this book’. Readers always look for something new that will give them the same feeling as their favourite book, so this is a good plan if you have a similar book to something else. Fans of the Hunger Games might enjoy a dystopian, for example, or fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood might like an urban fantasy about a band of gruff but sexy vampires.

Think about your reader. What is it that will make them buy your next book? Genre is the first indicator of a reader’s preferences, but it’s much more complex than that. Taking the first blurb above, from The Target, it looks at first glance as though it’s for a thriller. And on the surface, it is. But it goes deeper than that. By including the final part, Baldacci has narrowed his target audience to readers who not only like thrillers, but also like personal stories about the characters, like books with assassins in, and stories about redemption. For The Goldfinch, it’s aimed towards readers who like contemporary books, but also like stories that follow structure from traditional books, is about loss and renewal, and personalised through the eyes of a main character. Both have been fine-tuned to the point that certain readers will decide it’s not for them, and the target readers will immediately one-click.

So when writing your ‘final sell’, remember these points; Make sure it both adds more information to the questions, and opens up what these will develop into. Add fine details that make your book unique from its main genre. Is it personal to one character? Is there a lost-lost relative that comes in and stirs things up? Is there a coming event that happens behind the scenes, that the characters don’t yet know about? Don’t be afraid to narrow your target audience. A lot of authors throw a wide net, hoping to catch every reader possible, in the hopes that they might like the book. All this is going to do is end up with a lot of disappointed readers, if they buy the book, hoping it was something else!  Speak to your readers directly, let them know that if they buy your book, they know exactly what they’re getting.

 

So what do you guys think? Do you enjoy writing blurbs, or do you find them an awkward task? And readers, what do you look for in a blurb? What captures your imagination?