Ever feel like you are stuck in the never-ending middle of your novel? Feel like you’ve been following a plot idea that has become a dead-end? I am trying to head toward the exciting conclusion, the third act of my novel, where all roads converge into one and my character really gets to the end of her struggle, but…somewhere along the way, I’ve lost momentum. Compelling plot twists elude me. Conflict? My antagonists and main characters are all eating dinner together. Yikes! This is not where I meant the story to go.
In order to not go back and edit scenes, I’ve been trying to push onward through the story. This leaves me further ahead in the plot, but also feeling rudderless. I tried to write new outlines, in order to incorporate ideas that had come up in the plot since I left the First Act. Outlining can be fun but when I was done, I had two things. One, a better sense of when things happen in the story and two, an unfortunate feeling of completion that didn’t inspire me to actually write the scenes I had just imagined.
Where was the excitement for the story that got me writing in the first place? I found a piece of it at QFC, a rather nice grocery store that has a small book section. A book caught my eye, I think it was called, “On London Road.”
Naturally, I picked it up. Before even reading the blurb on the back cover, I pictured a foggy London background, dashing English men, pots of tea, cozy pubs, and maybe a mystery or romance. A book that I’d want to devour. After a quick scan of the book in my hands though, I couldn’t really figure out what it was about. I put it back.
The incident did get me to thinking. I decided to write a blurb for my book instead of another outline. Wow, it delivered. In two sentences, my plot took on immediate conflict, drama and mystery. I suddenly wanted to get writing again.
The blurb format of one or two sentences demands you write the most interesting summary of your book. Don’t worry about bragging or exaggerating here, because that is the whole idea. This practice doesn’t have to be the blurb you tell your neighbor, but one that sharpens your sense of what your book is about. It does help to imagine that you are telling it to someone. How would you intrigue them about your book?
If you need some solid examples, just go to your bookshelves and select a couple of books with blurbs you like.
I had begun to feel my novel’s story line matched a series of scenes that got me from step a to step b. It might warrant this blurb, “Mild-mannered girl kind of wants to see her father again and she also lives with a bunch of students in a London but they don’t actually do anything fun and she is attracted to a very normal solid not really that interesting man.”
Using my new blurb idea, I wrote, “Only in London to confront the father that she has never met, study-abroad counselor Lucy Basloe gets more than she bargains for when she inappropriately falls for a student that shows her the mysterious and romantic side of England.”
Just like that, I would give this novel a second look. Since it is mine, I am going to give my long 2nd act some fresh attention. For increased drama, I see that it is better to make my character meet her father for the first time. I didn’t plan it this way, but it sure sounds nicer in the blurb. At the very least, this exercise gives me ideas to ponder.
The other thing the blurb reveals is that my main character is seeing a mysterious student. I had this possible character lurking in the background, but I wasn’t going to go there. I thought my main character was going to fall for the other counselor, or a garden designer. Why not go for the most dramatic option? I can’t wait to uncover what will happen between these characters. Stuckness, be gone. I’ve been blurbed.