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 Found another great blog entry today, this one's about what to do after you've finished your first draft and the importance of knowing your back-cover blurb before you start editing: http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2009/01/whats-your-story-about.html
 Here's the one I wrote for my sci-fi thriller, Waking up Jack Thunder:

Only Special Agent Jack Thunder can identify a CIA traitor and locate $3bn in missing drug money. Trouble is, a failed mission left him in a coma, so the Agency turns to Bobby Newton, a shy scientist whose invention enables comatose patients to communicate with the outside world (secretly using his own brain as a conduit). 

All goes well until masked gunmen sabotage the procedure, leaving Bobby for dead.  He wakes up to find his patient gone, his lab destroyed, and Thunder’s copied brain patterns stuck inside his head. Not knowing who to trust, Bobby goes on the run. Hunted by the CIA and a ruthless drug baron, his only chance of survival is Jack Thunder himself, who appears at his side like a ghostly holograph that only he can see. 


I like to write a rough version of the back-cover blurb between finishing the first, rough, outline and starting the first chapter.  That's not to say that I won't make any major changes to the outline after that, but I find it helps me keep the story on track.  It's easy to meander off course if you don't have a clear idea where your story's going, on the other hand, there's usually a lot going on that's important too.  In the end I guess it's a question of choosing which events/characters to leave out of the blurb completely, rather than which ones to include 

You can use the blurb in a query letter too. After all, if it’s meant to interest a potential reader, it ought to interest a potential agent too.


Speaking of agents, I hear it's important to have a one-line pitch sentence (also great for when people ask what your book's about).
For Thunder, I say: 'It's a sci-fi thriller about a shy scientist who gets a copy of a secret agent's brain stuck in his head.'  Summing up a story in one sentence is harder than you'd think.  I like to practise by making up tag lines for movies and tv shows. 

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Action/comedy:  The top assassins from opposing agencies just found out they're married... to each other

I Robot  A sci-fi thriller:  In a world where robots are commonplace, the only guy who doesn't trust them finds out he's right.

Big Bang Theory: A comedy about four socially-inept brainiacs dragged into the real world by the down to earth blonde next-door.  

Why not give it a try yourself?  Let me know what you come up with. 

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that single line is also useful for pitching screenplays or stories for on-screen use. I recently subbed to Hotel Guignool, and they ask for that line...
Jan. 28th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Another good thing about tha one-line summary is it helps avoid that 'goldfish' moment, when my brain withdraws cooperation with my mouth (which usually happens when someone asks what the book's about).
Jan. 28th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
For DD the one liner is:-

'In a world where the hungry dead aren't too bright, you need a Detective who's not too bright either.'

Doesn't explain story but does give exactly the right feel. It also contains a joke which only becomes apparent if you've read the book.

Never thought about a full blurb. This is a first go.

Only the really desperate hire 'Dead' Dave York.

One of those desperate cases just landed in Dave's lap. There's a demon on this guy's tail and he only has twenty four hours before he'll start needing factor google sunscreen and drinking blood.

It's clients with jobs like this Dave usually tries to avoid. It never turns out well.

But how do you hide from yourself?
Jan. 28th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
That's a great one-liner. Like you say, it doesn't explain a lot, but you know you're going to get a horror/comedy, or 'horredy' as it were.

I like your summary too.
Jan. 28th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)

I can see this going into my bio. :)

I am now revising the summary as you made a good point in your post and it's something I should have ready to go.
Jan. 28th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Hehe, the other option is 'comedor', but it doesn't have quite the same ring to it :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

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