Monday, 24 March 2014

Writing tips 1

Lately, I've been contributing to various LinkedIn writers' groups. On these groups I offered to give tips for writing blurb for their books. I've shared that advice below.

If you follow these guidelines below, exactly as I lay them out, you will create the perfect selling blurb.

1. Who is your main character? If it's an ensemble story then you need make that clear. For now though, let's suppose it's one guy.
2. Who is your main character's opponent, or opponents? Yes, he can have more than one opponent - these are the bad guys.
3. What is your main character's goal? Often it's not obvious. It's probably to strike out on his own and make a life - okay so there are sub-goals: robbing the bank for instance, but these should not get in the way of the main goal. This is often as simple as survival.
4. What is the emotional torment that your main character wrestles? This gives him an internal life and the reason for doing what he does.
5. What will happen if he doesn't achieve his goal? This gives him the desire to make things work - to achieve his goal
6. Where is it set?

Okay, so those are the most important things you have to put across in any selling blurb. (And if you do it right then you can do it for ideas too and then store these short paragraphs away and pull them out when you need a new story). 

Here…. I'm going to make a story up, using these six guidelines so you can see how it works.

When Arnie Dragonslayer (1) is called in by the mayor of Dragonsville (6) to slay (3) a Dragon (2) that has been plaguing the land for decades, he readily agrees, despite the fact that he has failed to kill a single dragon in the last two years (4). Each month a virgin is given up to the beast. Sadly, there is only one virgin left in the land; Princess Sweetcheeks. When Arnie meets the Princess he falls in love with her (again, 4). He can't abide the thought that his darling will be slaughtered by the foul beast, so he connives to replace her another. Even as he does this though, his conscience eats away at him (another 4 - ramping up the emotional torment). If he fails to kill the dragon then an innocent, yet not so virginal, woman will be killed (5). Yet even as Arnie races to save the woman, Princess Sweetcheeks is in the arms of another (2). What should Arnie do? Save the dragon's victim, or fight the Princess's new suitor?

So, there you have it. I just made that up as I went along, using the guidelines above. It's just an example, but you can see how you have to think to create a piece of information that will make a potential reader sit up and take notice. Hopefully, anyone interested in dragons and virginal victims will, by now, want to find out how Arnie copes with all this. (BTW, I'm not into dragon's but I've used this metaphor before in workshops to show students how to write this kind of thing and it works for the purpose of an example).