From my post last month on blurbs, Elle J Rossi won a critique by Misty Evans (marketing goddess) and me (minion of marketing goddess). Elle gave me permission to share the process. Here’s the first blurb she sent us from her paranormal romance BROKEN FLIGHT:
There were two things Anna James never planned on: Dying so young and ending up somewhere other than Heaven. But at the age of nineteen, she’d died in her lover’s arms as the shadows closed in and carried her off.
In Beyond, Anna keeps her head down and plays by the rules. But when the love of her life is about to lose his, this tortured but resilient angel will break every rule in the book to save Grey from the fate she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy. Anna’s defiance brings the wrath of the Angels of Punishment, whose leader plans to use her as a pawn to get to the top.
Stripped of her wings, sent back to Earth and challenged to do the impossible, she and Grey must find their way when nothing is as it should be and everything they’d been told could very possibly be a lie.
All Grey Wilson wanted was a do-over. One chance to go back ten years and change one fraction of one day. He’d give anything to have Anna back in his life, but never expected his wish would come true in the form of a brutal nightmare.
The pair are thrown into the middle of an angelic civil war, where the mastermind and leader of the AOP has given them the task of finding a mythological sword. But the sword isn’t the only thing Azrael wants in his quest to reign, and when he lays out his demands, Anna will have to make the biggest decision of her life.
A fascinating premise, but the blurb is long and confusing. Misty and I needed to know what Beyond was and whether Anna was an angel. Also, some of it was vague and unnecessary. Phrases like “from the fate she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy” don’t tell the reader anything. If it isn’t doing anything, cut it. In last month’s post, I said a good blurb should have GMC – goals, motivation & conflict. Misty said the same thing to Elle, phrased differently:
Here are the 3 questions I ask myself when writing one.
1. What is their goal? (present)
2. Why is that their goal? (stems from past)
3. What’s stopping them from reaching their goal? (combination of past experience and current conflict)
Elle told us what Beyond was and that Anna was an angel, but she couldn’t pin down the GMCs. Based on Elle’s replies – and using some of her phrasing – Misty sent Elle an example of what she could do with the blurb. Riffing off of Misty’s example, I sent another one. Now it was Elle’s turn, and she came through with this blurb:
Dying young and ending up somewhere other than Heaven were two things Anna James never planned. Now her heart is still on Earth with her soulmate, Grey, while the rest of her struggles to survive in Beyond. Not quite Heaven and a lot like Hell, Beyond is a proving ground where only the strongest souls are allowed to move on. With no way out, Anna keeps her head down and plays by the rules… Until she learns Grey is about to die.
Grey Wilson would give anything to go back ten years and stop the accident that ripped Anna from his arms. Guilt leads to recklessness and he finds skirting death is the one thing that brings him closer to Anna. But the next adrenaline high is one he never imagined.
Azrael, the leader of Beyond, needs the Sword of Peleus in order to take over Heaven, and Anna’s the only one who can recover it. But the sword isn’t the only thing Azrael wants. Anna has a darkness in her that makes her the perfect companion for him in his quest, and when he lays out his demands, Anna will have to make the biggest decision of her life.
This was much better but still needed tweaks, the 2nd paragraph especially. Grey’s recklessness isn’t necessary in the blurb. And we still need more of their GMC. Elle thought she was giving us the information, but she wasn’t. It’s not uncommon. I’d been writing a few years before I found out about GMC at an all day workshop given by Debra Dixon. It was a revelation. Her book, Goal, Motivation & Conflict, sold out at the conference, and I had to order it online. Now, GMC on imprinted in my brain.
After our responses, Elle sent what she called her “final” blurb. Wishful thinking, though it was almost there. This is getting long, so I won’t post it. The first and third paragraphs were great, but Grey’s paragraph still needed tweaking. It wasn’t specific enough.
Here’s her real final revision:
Anna James never planned on dying at nineteen or ending up somewhere other than Heaven. Ten years later, her heart is still on Earth with her soulmate, Grey, while the rest of her struggles to survive in Beyond. Not quite Heaven and a lot like Hell, Beyond is a proving ground where only the strongest souls are allowed to move on. With no way out, Anna keeps her head down and plays by the rules… Until she learns Grey is about to die.
Grey Wilson would give anything to go back and stop the accident that ripped Anna from his arms. But when Anna appears on Earth again, he quickly realizes things can never be as they were. Death and Beyond have changed her; brought out the dark side and dimmed her inner light. Before they can even revel in this semblance of a miracle, Grey and Anna find themselves in the middle of an angelic civil war where sabotage and danger lurk around every corner.
Azrael, the lethal leader of Beyond, needs the Sword of Peleus in order to reign over Heaven, and Anna’s the only one who can find it. But the sword isn’t the only thing Azrael wants and he’ll stop at nothing to have the darker Anna at his side and in his bed.
Misty and I think it’s great. I’d still probably tweak the second paragraph, but I’m the Queen of Tweaking. I hope it gets her requests, and that’s the point of the blurb.
Huge thanks to Misty for doing this with me, and to Elle for letting us share this with you.
What’s your process for writing blurbs? Any tricks?