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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BOOK’S BLURB
by Rayne Hall
The blurb (book description) on the book’s back cover and online product page is the most important part of the book. Almost everyone reads or at least skims it before deciding whether or not to buy. It probably plays a bigger role in your sales than any other factor.
IS THE BLURB TOO LONG?
If the book description goes on and on, the reader gets bored—and looks at the next book in the catalogue instead.
Many authors load their book description page with a lengthy synopsis, subplots, commentary, author bio, purchased reviews and other material, in the hope that this will persuade the reader to become interested in the book. But the reader who visits your product page is already interested. Don’t bore her away!
The description needs to stir the interest into an urgent desire to read the book, so the reader either clicks to get the free sample or to buy the book at once.
Shorten your blurb. Cut all superfluous material—you may be able to use it elsewhere in your promotions. Model your blurb’s length on that of the bestsellers of your genre. 200-800 words is usually enough.
IS IT TOO COMPLEX?
In an attempt to do the book justice and reflect every nuance of content, writers often cram too much into the blurb. This leaves the reader confused.
Better to focus on one aspect of the book, and present that well. Keep it simple.
Unlike a synopsis, the blurb should not reveal the plot. Otherwise, the reader doesn’t need to read the book to find out what happens.
A good blurb is a teaser. It presents an exciting situation that the reader can’t resist.
Keep it simple and get straight to the point.
For non-fiction, show what benefits the reader will get. (Example: Writing Fight Scenes: “Learn step-by-step how to create fictional fights which leave the reader breathless with excitement.”) Add some key features of the content.
For a novel, focus on the main character’s major goal and conflict. Leave out subplots, minor characters and all the enchanting details.
Focus on the first couple of chapters of your book. Leave out anything that comes later.
Do you have a tagline, logline, elevator pitch or similar short teaser for the book? Flesh it out with a couple more sentences, and you’ll have an irresistible blurb.
DOES IT FAIL TO GRAB?
Many blurbs leave the reader unmoved. Without emotional involvement, the reader doesn’t feel compelled to read the story.
Here’s a powerful method to make the reader care. Start the blurb with the character’s goal. Whatever the character wants or needs that sets the events in motion, state it. Example: “Debutante Arabella needs a husband.”
Add the reason why, but without explanations. Simply reveal what’s at stake or what the dire consequences of failure would be: “Debutante Arabella needs a husband, or her brother goes to prison.”
If you can create a sense of urgency by mentioning a deadline, even better: “Debutante Arabella needs a husband, and she needs him by Christmas, or her brother goes to prison.”
A sentence “[Character] needs [goal] before [deadline], otherwise [drastic consequences]” is an irresistible hook for any reader who enjoys the kind of story you’ve written.
Add another sentence creating an emotional dilemma: “But the only man she loves is betrothed to her best friend.”
Finish with a question. “How can she protect her brother without betraying her friend or her own heart?”
This gets the reader’s imagination going, and she’ll want to read the story.
IS IT WORDY AND WAFFLING?
Your writing style for the blurb needs to be exciting and punchy. Many blurbs are vague, clumsy, or cluttered with phrases that add no content.
Give every sentence at least one vivid verb and specific noun, and scrap most adjectives and adverbs.
Avoid Passive Voice sentence structure (“When her son is killed by native warriors…”) and use Active Voice where possible (“When native warriors kill her son…”).
Delete phrases that carry no content (“This book is about…” “This story tells how…” “What happens next…”)
Delete sentences in which the character thinks, considers, understands and realises things. Focus on the action.
Tighten the phrasing. Avoid “he starts/begins to” and “she finds herself”. Instead of “He starts to plot revenge” write “He plots revenge.” Instead of “She finds herself journeying into the jungle” write “She journeys into the jungle.”
DOES IT LACK THRILL WORDS?
Every genre has certain words which send delicious thrills down the reader’s spine and get her imagination going. They signal that this book contains the kind of story she loves.
In Regency Romance, words like ‘ball, governess, rake, rogue, elopement, scandal’ capture the reader’s imagination, while for Westerns it may be ‘stagecoach, sheriff, outlaw, hanging, posse, saloon’ and for High Fantasy ‘sword, wizard, enchanted, magic, prophecy, quest’. They act as an open-sesame.
If your blurb lacks the magic words, the reader will move on to look at another book.
Make a list of the thrill words of your genre (or genres, if your book straddles several). Choose the ones which fit your story and insert two or more into your blurb.
MISTAKES I MADE AND LEARNT FROM
For a short while, I believed the ‘gurus’ who urged authors to make blurbs as long as possible. I wrote 2000-word blurbs and stuffed them with keywords. When book sales dropped instead of rising, I realised that readers don’t want to read long blurbs. They want to read books.
A guest post from Rayne Hall.
Body language can add another dimension to your dialogue scene, because it reveals a person’s intentions, feelings or mood.
The five main types of body language are gesture, posture, movement, facial expression and tone of voice.
She pointed to the orchard. “I saw him there.”
He slammed his fist on the table. “I’ve had enough.”
She scratched her chin. “Are you sure this will work?”
“Welcome.” He pointed to the couch. “Why don’t you make yourself comfortable?”
She raised her chin. “You can’t make me do this.”
He locked his arms across his chest. “No way.”
She leant away from him. “This isn’t working between us.”
“I consider this an insult.” He stood with his shoulders squared and his legs braced. “Take it back.”
“Maybe another time.” He turned to leave.
She walked faster. “I told you I don’t want a date.”
“All right.” He shuffled forward.
“Follow me!” She leaped across the brook.
Facial Expression Examples
Her eyes narrowed. “You expect me to believe this?”
His cheeks turned tomato-red. “What do you mean?”
“I’m sorry.” She stared at the floor. “I didn’t want it to be this way.”
The corners of his eyes crinkled, and his lips twitched. “Really?”
Tone of Voice Examples
“We will stand together in this.” His voice was deep and resonant like a church bell.
“I’ve told you a hundred times, and I’m telling you again.” Her voice sounded like a dentist’s drill, high-pitched and persistent. “Why don’t you ever listen?”
“You know that I’m going to kill you, don’t you?” His sounded as casual as if he were discussing the weather. “Do you prefer a shot in the heart, or the head?”
“You’ve been with that floozy again, you cheating bastard!” Her voice was loud enough to wake up the whole neighbourhood.
Body Language instead of Dialogue Tags
Using body language allows you to cut boring dialogue tags (he said, she asked, he answered) because it shows who’s talking.
“What about the girl?” he asked.
“Bastards!” she shouted. “I won’t let you get away with this.”
“What now?” he wondered aloud.
Body language versions:
He jerked his chin at her. “What about the girl?”
“Bastards!” She slammed her fist on the table. “I won’t let you get away with this.”
He scratched his head. “What now?”
Point of View
Most people aren’t aware of their body language. Therefore, use body language for the character who is not the PoV.
If the body language is intentional, for example gestures, you can use it for PoV and non-PoV characters.
Lies and Secrets
Advanced writers can use body language to hint at secrets and lies. The characters’ words say one thing, but their body language another.
“Yes, tell me the rest of your life story, it’s so exciting.” She glanced at her watch. “It’s a pleasure to hear all about it.”
He hugged his arms around his chest. “I’m not frightened.”
His face paled. “That’s all right, honey. It doesn’t matter at all.”
If a character avoids eye-contact, this suggests that they’re not telling the truth or are hiding a secret.
“Don’t wait with dinner for me tonight, darling. Arabella and I will have to work late again.” He did not meet Sue’s eyes. “It’s a bore, but the workload is getting heavier every day.”
Rayne Hall has published more than forty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), 13 British Horror Stories, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2, 3, 4 (creepy horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes, The World-Loss Diet, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic and Writing Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).
She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Currently, she edits the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies: Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, Spells: Ten Tales of Magic, Undead: Ten Tales of Zombies and more.
Rayne has lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal and has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England.