Friday, January 14, 2022

Karen S Wiesner: Blurbs Series, Part 2: Series Blurbs

 Writing Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner

Based on Writing Blurbs that Sizzle--And Sell! by Karen S. Wiesner

Blurbs Series, Part 2:

Series Blurbs

This is the second of six posts focusing on writing effective blurbs for your books.

In Part 1, we talked about writing high-concept and back cover blurbs. Let's continue.

Part 3: Series Blurbs

At its crux, a series blurb strives to be a concise, breathtaking summary of your entire series that includes the major internal and external conflicts and the goals and motivations of the main character(s), perhaps as a group or some other concept (the driving force of the story). A series blurb will be a generalized sentence or paragraph that accurately covers, reflects and describes every single book in the series. A series blurb can make or break the sale of an entire set of books. Many publishers and certainly readers buy the first book in the series and every single one after it based on a sizzling series blurb that convinces them they absolutely have to read not only the first book but all of them in that set!

Let's first establish that the point of a series is that readers who follow it from one book to the next will get a richer, more complex, and emotional experience than those who only read a single book in the series. Those readers will understand the subtle nuances that one-time browsers won’t pick up on. For that reason, the author has to make enough vital connections from one book to the next in their series or readers will lose the purpose in reading that series at all. Therefore, the first step to writing a series blurb is to figure out what ties the books together.

Types of Series Ties

If each book in a series doesn’t somehow tie together or have a touchstone that helps the reader figure out how they’re connected, you could hardly call these books a series. There are three distinct types of series ties, but always keep in mind that authors frequently combine one or more of these in a single series.

·         Recurring Character or Central Group of Characters

·         Premise/Plot Series

·         Setting Series

The series ties will also help us figure out what the "who" aspect is of our series when filling out the next section of the Blurb Worksheet.

Finding the Focus of a Series: Story and Series Arcs

A story arc is introduced, developed, and concluded in each individual book of a series. In a series story, a story arc is short-term because it will be neatly tied-up in a single book within the series.

A series arc is the long-term thread that's introduced in the first book in the series, is developed in some way in every single subsequent book, but is only fully resolved in the final book in the series.

The series arc is usually separate from the individual story arcs, but both are crucial and must fit together seamlessly. As an example, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the story arc is the chamber of secrets plotline. The overall series arc, in the most simplified terms, is good (Harry) overcomes evil (Voldemort)—and that’s true for every book in that series. The series arc runs beneath the individual story arcs in each book.

Certain types of series don’t really need series arcs because they’re open-ended. No clear end is in sight, and therefore there is less need for a tightly delineated series arc that must resolve in the final book. In an open-ended series (such as some sleuth mysteries with a single recurring character—i.e., Hercule Poirot and the like), each book in the series is a standalone.

The series blurb should tell readers how all the books in that series are connected. If the series blurb is done well enough, those sentences will accurately reflect what every book in the series is about in a concise, intriguing summary. If readers don't understand the premise of your series in the blurb, they may not bother try reading the first book.

Now that we know what a series blurb needs to include, we can use a short form to provide the jumping-off point in crafting one of our own on the Blurb Worksheet:

Basic Series Information: Fill out as completely as possible, keeping in mind that you may not use all, much or any of this in your final blurb.

Series Title:

Genre(s):

[Who] Series Tie(s):

       Recurring or Cast of Characters Series

       Premise/Plot Series

       Setting Series

Basic Series Arcs:

[What] Conflict or crisis that sets the series in motion:

[Why] What's the worst case resolution scenario to the crisis situation?

We're going to use a modified variation of our "formula" for the series blurb:

Who

(Series Tie)

What

(Conflict or Crisis)

Why

(Worst Case Resolution Scenario) 

Note that resolutions are not usually needed in the series blurb, since you don’t want to defuse the intrigue or tension, but sometimes a resolution will work well in the overall series blurb. Play with it to see all the alternatives. 

Let's fill out the form and formula, this time with The Expanse Series. The books don't technically have a series blurb--not a definitive one anyway--the way the TV series does, but I've put together a slightly hybridized version below. 

Series Title: The Expanse

Genre(s): Science Fiction

[Who] Series Tie(s): Premise/Plot Series (though it could fit in other categories as well), in this case a futuristic galaxy that humans have developed and colonized. I.e.: Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. 

Series Arcs:

[What] Conflict or Crisis that Sets the Series in Motion: The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places.

[Why] What's the worst case resolution scenario to the crisis situation? A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark. 

We're going to use a slightly modified variation of our blurb "formula": 

Who (Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places.) Series Tie 

What (A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.) Conflict or Crisis 

Why (Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark.) Worst Case Resolution Scenario 

Here's the blurb for The Expanse Series: 

Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places. A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark. 

Remember the axiom we fixed in our minds earlier: If the blurb isn't effectively good, making you want to read the story inside the pages, it won't work. The goal is to get readers to read the book. Apparently, Tolstoy downed a gallon or two of vodka while trying to write the blurb for War and Peace. Truly, here is no better way to test an author's ability to write concisely in a way that engages and entices the reader into wanting more than with these three different types of blurb. Time to get down to that Blurb Hokey Pokey. 

In Part 3, we'll talk about some basics of crafting blurbs. 

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of Writing Blurbs That Sizzle--And Sell!

Volume 6 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection 

http://www.writers-exchange.com/3d-fiction-fundamentals-series/

https://karenwiesner.weebly.com/writing-reference-titles.html 

Happy writing! 

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here:

https://karenwiesner.weebly.com/

https://karenwiesner.weebly.com/karens-quill-blog

http://www.facebook.com/KarenWiesnerAuthor

No comments:

Post a Comment