January 26, 2010

Spellbound's Back Cover

Last night, left to my own devices, I stayed up into the wee hours writing a blurb for Spellbound. I'm taking an editing course this year at the Queensland Writer's Centre, which consists of five day-long classes designed to make me a better editor. It's being taught by author Kim Wilkins, of whom I am an adoring fan. She's written to ask all participants to send her a (very) short synopsis of our stories. So I sat up with my weak iced coffee (Manfriend is better at making those) and worked on my blurb.

I have to say, it was kind of hard. I kept trying to envision the back cover of my published book, what choice words it would contain to lure readers into my story. I've read thousands upon thousands of back cover blurbs, so I didn't think it would be all that hard. The thing is... it was. Condensing this beast that you've spent countless months on into two very short paragraphs is like me trying to squeeze into my Sophomore-in-high-school jeans. Seriously? You want this giant thing to fit into that tiny space? I've written tons of journalism pieces that had to be under 100 words, but those were a cake walk in comparison. Maybe because I have a lot to say about Spellbound. Or maybe I'm just a wordy bastard.

In a class I took with Kim in 2008, she told us that she loves writing her blurbs. She likes to say that it's good preparation: if you can't sum up your story and spool it out in thirty seconds, then how are you ever going to sell it? Writing a blurb means plucking out your story's unique strengths. It means finding those threads that will make a reader turn the book over and open it to Page 1.

So here is my first attempt at writing a blurb for Spellbound:

16- year old Jack Lawson doesn’t believe in magic; he believes in the sad predictability of his ordinary life. That’s before he spies on the Sparrows, the mysterious and beautiful neighbors he’s been obsessed with for years. Jack witnesses a ritual he isn’t meant to see, one that gifts him with frightening powers that turn his ordinary life upside-down. Jack’s unpredictable fire magic plunges him into the secret world of the Sparrow witches, where everything he thought he knew is called into question. To stay sane, Jack must learn to tame his magic- including his ability to hear and see people’s thoughts- but for that, he needs help.

Help comes in the form of the enigmatic Lorna, the girl Jack pines for from afar. As they grow closer, Jack realizes that he’s bound to Lorna in a way that is both dangerous and intoxicating.

Jack’s in with the Sparrows girls ruffles more than a few feathers, so when a boy is found dead at school with Jack and Lorna standing over him, it doesn’t take long for rumors to fly. Whispers turn into accusations and thoughts turn into threats, pushing Jack further away from the friends and family he thought he knew. Jack must fight against this new-found violence to save Lorna, the Sparrows, and himself.

Do you feel like you know what kind of story you're looking at? Would you pick this up for you/a friend/some teenager you know who likes this sort of thing? I feel like there are crucial elements I've left out, so I'll keep working on it until I get it right. Until then, it's time to get back to editing!


  1. I would read it! :) Oh wait.. I have read it and its AMAZING and so are youuuuuu!

  2. Sounds good. I would read it. In fact, if you ever want to change stories I'd be interested. curlgurl2007@gmail.com

  3. I think you did an excellent job capturing the essence of the story and plot line! That will totally get them to the first page, and after that, they'll be hooked for sure. I was ;)

  4. Katie Kate, with a "blurb" that long, where will there be space for quoting your adoring critics?!