Copyright 2011 by Gary L. Pullman
According to The Free Dictionary, a blurb is “a brief publicity notice, as on a book jacket.” However, a blurb can also be the basis for developing a plot, even the plot of a novel.
Let’s consider the publisher’s blurb for Dean Koontz’s novel What the Night Knows. In doing so, I’ll break the blurb into four parts, one for each of its paragraphs, at the same time identifying with a lead-in phrase (in bold font), the purpose of each part.
Use a past event as a prelude to the story proper (that is, the story that is presently being told): “In the late summer of a long ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy.”
Link the past event to the present situation: “Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, recreating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family—his wife and three children—will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer.”
Add a paranormal or a supernatural twist: “As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return.”
Appeal to readers’ personal interest:: “. . . . In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. . . . ”
My analysis of this blurb has given me a specific, four-step formula according to which I could write a novel of my own:
- Use a past event as a prelude to the story proper.
- Link the past event to the present situation.
- Add a paranormal or a supernatural twist.
- Appeal to the readers’ personal interest.