Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Part six: Rising tension or tropes? Blurb writing 101 for self published authors.

Rising tropes is the best I can come up with to replace "rising tension".  Not every book is an action adventure or thrilling drama.  After helping several other authors with their blurbs, I would tell them that they need to raise the tension.  A lot of times they had trouble with it because their book doesn't build what most people would consider tension.  Take a comedy for example.  The rising tension would be the string of events that just get more absurd as they go on.  Like a Rube Goldberg Machine.  Or in the case of a romance, they thought I was talking about sexual tension between the characters when there really isn't any.  In other words, as you write your blurb, each step needs a rising action of some sort.  Tropes work well for this because it serves double duty in your blurb to help the customer identify what your book is about without actually telling them.  I'll go deeper into this in the Do's and Don'ts.

Tropes in many writing circles seem to have a bit of a bad rep.  I'm not saying that you need to write books with tropes in them, but tropes are universal identifiers when it comes to stories.  It's not a romance book if there isn't a happy for now/ever after ending.  And you can't call it a western if there are not six shooters and cowboy hats.

When it comes to writing your blurb one method to help with making it better is to identify not only the genera but also the themes of your book.  This can be hard to do with your own work if you just sat down and wrote your story and didn't outline or storyboard first.  Once you have the genera and themes.  Take a moment to see which of these will best lend themselves to the rising tension/tropes.

I write Steampunk Fantasy.  Both of these have identifiable tropes.  Reoccurring themes in my trilogy include: second chances, struggle of life and death, coming of age and the circular logic of time travel.  I chose to use my themes to raise the tension in my blurbs over the genera.

Here is a quick look at Book One again before I pick it apart for rising tension.

A thousand years ago, Angela was born into a race of warriors with the ability to fly. Recruited at her death to help fulfill a prophecy, she travels through the Gateway to a mechanical future dominated by airships on the edge of war. Now the last of her kind, Angela has been promised a second chance at life, if she plays her part.

Kail has a simple life, and it doesn’t include magic and forgotten prophecies. Magic ruled for centuries, but as it died out a new industry of alchemy and machines rose in its place. After Angela arrives bruised and battered the military follows bringing enemies that Kail didn’t know he had.

As the last of the vanguard mage class, General Therion can pervert magic to do unspeakable things. He wants what Kail possesses at any cost: a birthright of powerful magic that also includes the secrets of the Gateway. If Therion can seize what Kail has, he would have sweeping control over time and even death.

In the first paragraph, it clearly steps up in tension for Angela.  I introduce her, she dies, goes to the future, she is the last of her kind and her only out is if she does as she's told.  Each sentence raises the stakes.  Paragraph two and three do the same thing.  Here is ordinary Kail.  Magic and prophecy?  A beat up time traveling girl?  Now the military and bad guys want him?  It's ramping up pretty quick for our hero.  Therion's paragraph is the same,  he's bad, he does bad things, he wants what Kail has and he's going to top it off with control over time and death.

So back to your own blurb.  Does the tension level rise?  Does it ramp up and identify what the customer expects to get out of your book?  Can they quickly identify what your book is about and if it's what they are looking for to spend their money on?  Does it leave them on the edge of their chair with a desperate need to click the buy now button?

1 comment:

  1. Worried as when I tried to access your blog yesterday got an error note saying you were no longer active,

    So glad to see you.