How To Write Fiction Sales Copy: Chapter Seven
HOW TO WRITE FICTION SALES COPY
(Summary. This book is coming about because I need to write 32 story blurbs for the 32 short stories I wrote in July for a book titled Stories from July.)
In the first chapter of this book, I touched on what I call “The Author Problem” and gave a basic formula that I sometimes use to give blurbs a structure.
And in chapter two I laid out another formula for writing blurbs.
In the third chapter I talked about a method Lee Allred uses.
In the fourth chapter I talked about the idea that sometimes using first lines can help.
In the fifth chapter, I talked about focus and using setting to get through problems with blurbs.
In the sixth chapter, I mostly used a focus on character only. No or little plot. Just character in the blurb.
Now in this chapter, I will focus on using genre devices and tropes to blurb a story without giving any plot away. Readers know genres and what they love, so by using a genre structure in a blurb, you can bring them into a story.
Nobody Slept Here: A Ghost of a Chance Story
How can a ghost make love to a live superhero?
Ghost of a Chance Agent Eve Bryson really, really wants to figure that out.
Superhero Deputy Cascade wonders the same thing.
A ghost and a superhero in love. They share everything except sex. What to do?
This is the third story in this series with these two characters in the July stories.
So I needed to be careful again on the plot of this. So I went to the first page and used the first line of the story. Tough to ruin a story when only using a first line.
Then I focused on what kind of story this is. It is a romance, clear and simple. So from that same first few paragraphs of the story, I used more details about the relationship.
Notice, I introduced her, then him, then flat said they are in love but have a problem. That is classic romance structure. So I played off the structure.
And the last line is the key to all romances. They meet, they have troubles, what to do to get to happily ever after, in this case, sex.
Pure romance structure to relay a story.
Leaking Away a Life: A Poker Boy Story
Poker Boy works as a superhero in the gambling side of the world. And he reports to Stan, the God of Poker.
Very bothered, Stan comes to Poker Boy with a problem. Very personal and unusual.
Another superhero working for Stan faces monster problems, and not the kind of problems that come from rescuing others.
This other superhero needs to be rescued from himself.
Sadly, we often all face our worst enemy every morning in the mirror, an enemy sometimes impossible to beat, even for a superhero.
Over the fifty or sixty Poker Boy stories I have written, he sometimes tackles trying to help someone with personal issues. And he has mostly failed.
This is a story of addiction, but how to get that across without saying that and chasing off most of the readers???
The title, for anyone who knows professional poker, spells out the story completely.
A “leak” in professional poker is a poker player who also gambles. Poker is a sport where skill wins, but often poker players win all their money playing poker, but will have an addiction to a form of gambling. They leak away all their money on their addiction.
All major sports have this problem as well. Baseball players like Pete Rose. The list is endless.
So to write this blurb, I couldn’t just describe all that I just described. So I had to drop back to a character focus for the first two lines. Then a plot point in the third and fourth lines.
Then the last line I came out to general “we” to try to give the idea without blurting it out that this was an addiction story.
So in this one, I used the addiction story tropes to clue in readers. “…rescued from himself.” Prime example. Second example is “facing ourselves.”
Anyone familiar with addiction knows all that. But most people might not think “Oh, an addiction story” when they read the blurb, but it is all there in the blurb.
Sales is the key here. What will give the readers a way into the story and yet when they finish, they will know the blurb fit the story perfectly and won’t feel mislead.
This addiction area of stories, a sub-genre of a number of major genres, actually, is one of the hardest to blurb and still have readers want to read the story. Caution is required.
Coffee Shop Comedy: A Danny and Dora Story
Danny needs a voice.
Dora needs a way to deliver her jokes besides selling them to other comics.
Both write and love comedy. Both love coffee. Their attraction catches them both by surprise. Can they solve each other’s problems?
The origin story of the famous crime-solving comedy team, Danny and Dora.
This the meet cute of a romance to start with. So I followed the standard romance structure in the blurb.
A guy and a girl meet. They are attracted, they have problems.
However, that said, this won’t be a romance series when I start writing the books from this. So I wanted to add in that kicker for future readers who might find this story out there and wonder what the hell was going on.
There is no crime in this story. This is just a meet cute romance start. It will only be in the future when this Burns and Allen team start to travel with their comedy act and solve crimes along the way.
This is going to be a really fun series to write.
So in summary, I did a complete romance structure blurb, then added in the future kicker line for the mysteries down the road.
And notice the cartoon look of the cover. That relays comedy but also was used for a time on some fantasy and comedy romances. So readers are familiar with the comedy covers for romances.
Author Problem Check
Did I get into any author problem on any of these three stories? All were difficult because of author problems and because they were all moderately short, meaning under 4,000 words for all of them. But I think I stayed out of the author problems once again.
Were there any passive verbs in any of the three blurbs? Nope, none that I can see.
Did I once go “and then this happens” with the plot I did reveal? Nope. I basically revealed no real plot on any of these. Just some character issues.
I don’t think any had author problems this chapter.
Plot Structure Method
The focus on plot structure really made these three blurbs easier to write for me.
So remember focus on plot structure as yet another way to deal with writing sales.
I realize the problem with this suggestion is the assumption that those reading this know plot structure. All new writers do not, and most early professionals are just starting to learn this area of writing.
So if you do not know plot structure for what you are writing, learn genre plot structures. Plot structures are reader-focused learning.
What do readers expect in various genres?
Learn the answer to that question. And then in the blurbs to your stories or novels, you can play into those reader wants with your blurbs. And help yourself sell more copies.
Onward to more blurbs.