To celebrate the release of her super scary new book, Heart Stopper and Other Stories, Tamara Narayan is here to share a unique way of creating book blurbs. Have fun trying it out!
The Blurb Game
Image: winnie’s human
To write a book description, the advice is clear. Introduce the genre, the protagonist, and the main conflict. Don’t get bogged down in tiny details. Keep it short. Choose your words carefully for maximum impact.
On Amazon, you can pick seven keywords or phrases to help readers find your book. Adding them to the book’s description will also help direct internet traffic your way.
Powerful, specific key words and short, abbreviated language. Sounds like poetry. In fact, when I tried to compose a book description with my keywords, it came out as a poem. Now poetry books aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, so why would anyone use poetry to sell fiction? It’s ridiculous! It’s mad! (But so is self-publishing.)
Before I share my poetical blurb, let’s play a little game. Can you guess what books are described by the three poems below?
Image: Nicholas Raymond
Young love comes with a price
Each new kiss as cold as ice
As she begs to leave this mortal coil
Resisting her blood is his greatest toil.
Image: Brave Heart
Behind the balloons and white grease paint
Hides something deadlier than a simple haint.
Imaginations strong, seven children almost defeat it
Reuniting as adults, their epic fight must be completed.
Image: Joshua Zader
One man bound and paralyzed
A girl employed to open his eyes
If love should bloom, can she change his mind?
To leave this world and his pain behind.
Now here’s mine (each story gets its own verse):
Four tales I present to tingle your spine
Four seasons of suspense to let you unwind.
Lives at a crossroad, a breakdown of order
Between life and death, it’s a tenuous border.
Halloween comes, and the Day of the Dead
For one man this custom brings heartache and dread.
As belongings disappear, a child makes her shrine
Is it a ghost? Perhaps. Or a shattered mind?
A couple spars, and fear invades
An abused coed flees on a spring escapade.
Across Florida’s searing and pocked landscape
Sinkholes will assume many a shape.
Another dreams of feathers, wings of might
Yet experiences terror at a meager height.
This phobia takes every dear thing away
Then, in a brutal twist, saves a dark summer’s day.
Peppermint, mice, and a cold-as-winter voice
A mother must make a desperate choice.
Heeding her instincts to save the child
What’s lost instead, the pain won’t be mild.
Four tales I present to tingle your spine
Four stories of suspense to let you unwind.
Read on to learn more before you order
Between art and madness, it’s a tenuous border.
For contrast, here are the more traditional blurbs for these four:
Heart Stopper: Honor the dead… On November 1, the spirits of children pass through the gates of heaven and return to their homes. Dallas Radner doesn’t celebrate The Day of the Dead, and he never speaks of his sister’s death all those years ago. Instead he christens his only daughter Tessa as a promise and a reminder, to do better, to be vigilant. Pray for the living… Bearing her aunt’s name may be a curse rather than a blessing. On November 1, Tessa’s heart stops on the operating table and she nearly passes through the pearly gates to join her aunt. Decipher the clues… Now, as the one-year anniversary of Dallas’s worst nightmare approaches, he has resigned himself to a lifetime of pills, shots, and doctor’s appointments to keep Tessa safe and well. However, this routine is disrupted when seemingly random things start disappearing in a mysterious countdown to that dreaded day. Ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens…what’s next? Before it’s too late. If the pattern holds, one thing will vanish forever on November 1, Día de Muertos, the day the gates of heaven swing open again. Tessa can’t be the one, can she?
Detour: Two weeks from college graduation, Chloe Langley’s dreams morph into a sinkhole of despair. With no job prospects and a volatile boyfriend’s control issues dragging her down, she takes off in a borrowed car for the safety of home. She’ll never make it.
One Step Away: Acrophobia ruined Darryl James’s marriage and stole his son. To get Andrew back, Darryl must undergo desensitization therapy. Just as success is within his grasp, a relapse strikes with shocking consequences.
Monitor: Perched on a mountain with a view to die for, Laura and Paul Alderson have it all: new home, new baby, and new challenges. It’s the American dream, but when the baby monitor whispers urgent warnings to Laura about the garage and the safety of her infant son, her new life takes a nightmarish turn.
What do you think of writing a poem to describe a book? Madness? Fun? What books did you guess for The Blurb Game?