On Wattpad, many writers are trying to get their books out there and gain a devoted base of readers who truly enjoy their stories. And as the reader you are bombarded with so many stories trying to get your attention. Think of all the books you’ve read that you’ve enjoyed, on Wattpad and elsewhere—they all had a description that pulled you in and made you want to keep on reading.
The description is a crucial part of your story, after the cover which pulls readers. The description (or "blurb") introduces your characters, the world in which your story takes place, and what your story is going to be about. It gives the readers an idea and all the things they should look for.
It’s hard to take your plot, with all its twists and turns and detail, and condense it in less than 250 words. But it’s an important process that shouldn’t be forgotten about. Less than 5% of books on Wattpad get even 100 views, so it’s important you entrance your viewers in any way you can. Some bad descriptions straight up say that the author doesn’t have a summary and that readers should "just read". Others are very vague and don’t explain the plot.
Even if your story isn’t confusing, having a vague blurb will confuse readers. Most readers don't want to go in not knowing a thing about a story, because there are no understood expectations.
To construct your own blurb, consider the 5 W’s (and 1 H)...
WHO?: Who is your main character? Who are your love interests? Important side characters? If you’re trying to keep things vague for the plot twist, you could say “mysterious forces”, or allude to characters playing a certain role.
WHAT?: What’s the plot? The conflict? What’s the inciting incident the event that kicks off your story until its current plot? What are the conflicts at the beginning of the story, the middle, and the end? You should list these things but allude to a future plot.
WHEN & WHERE?: These should be simple. Where does the story take place and when does it occur? If it’s contemporary, you may not have to say where it takes place or when, as it will be alluded to in the present day. But in a fantastical story, or where location and time are crucial, it’s best to include these.
WHY?: Why is this happening? Why is your main character caught up in the conflict? What makes this special? It’s important that this motive is present throughout the whole blurb.
HOW?: How will the conflict be solved? How will the characters solve this problem? This can be as detailed or vague as you want.
Once you’ve compiled this information, organize the details like this.
In a [location at a specific time], [main character] who [list specific traits and characteristics they have] lives in this world normally and has [goals and problems developed at the beginning of the story]. When [the inciting incident] occurs, [main character] needs to navigate [major conflict] alongside [any side characters]. By [solving the conflict in their own way] they encounter [the villain], and they must overcome [external goals]. [Describe books traits and tease what that the potential reader might discover if they actually read.]
Put your story information inside this little template. We will construct a blurb based on a writing prompt from Servicescape.
You work at a comic bookstore in New York City. One night, you stay late after closing in order to take inventory. A bright light coming from one crate in the back of the store. You go to investigate and discover an issue of a comic book you've never seen before. When you open it, a group of superheroes waves you in. Shocked, you drop the book on the ground. You take a step back, close your eyes, and take several deep breaths before opening them again. The book is still there, and it's still glowing. When you pick the book up again—whoosh—you're sucked inside. The next morning, the store manager arrives just as you're emerging from the book. Your manager looks stunned to see you there, especially as you're dressed in a superhero outfit and looking very fit.
The Initial Blurb:
In Chicago, 18-year-old Danny Tanaka works at a bookstore somewhat begrudgingly during his aimless gap year, and dreams of being an artist, but has looming pressure from his parents to choose a more suitable career. When closing from work one day, Danny discovers an unseen comic book, where superheroes are alive and invites him into their comic world. Suddenly immersed in the world of a superhero utopia, Danny finds himself thrown in the middle of a conflict spearheaded by an evil villain that could destroy the world. He must jump first in t save his new world while finding himself inside of his own. In this sarcastic, witty and emotional whirlwind, will Danny be able to exist in both worlds or will it tear him apart?
As you can see, this blurb somewhat follows the template but is too simplistic and flat to truly convince a reader to check out your story. It needs more detail, and a clear direction on the voice. The voice of a story blurb should always match up with the voice of the story, otherwise, it throws the reader off. Let’s say this hypothetical story has a very fun, sarcastic lighthearted tone. What could we do with this?
The Reworked Blurb:
Meet Danny Tanaka, an 18-year-old teenager in Chicago, who reluctantly works at a bookstore during his oh-so-exciting gap year. He chills aimlessly while daydreaming about becoming the best artist the world has ever seen. Danny believes in himself somewhat. His parents don’t. For now, they slowly breathe down his neck, pressuring him to choose a “real career”.
After a grueling shift, Danny stumbles upon a strange comic he knows he hasn’t seen before. After cracking open the pages, suddenly he goes from his dingy Chicago bookstore, and straight into the pages of the comic book of a utopian Chicago run by superheroes. And guess what? He has powers too!
But he’s soon scared straight and realizes this magic comic realm isn’t just for shits and giggles. A villain looms and threatens to destroy everything she can get her hands on, and suddenly Danny finds himself in the throes of that battle. He must save this new world, while always discovering who he is in his real one.
In this rollercoaster, only powered by wit, sarcasm, and a bit of tears, can Danny navigate the delicate balance between two worlds or will he crack?
You can see the blurb gives us more about the plot, has a dynamic writing voice, and gives us the stakes and what the reader can expect. Yet it doesn’t give too much away, and leaves room for the reader to imagine, which can lead them to read your book.
By using a template, you can convey the appeal of your story and entice readers. It can spark curiosity, tease plot twists, and make reading enjoyable.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Esosa Zuwa (she/her) is an author and poet whose work has been published in Altered Reality Magazine, The Violet Hour Magazine, and The Globe Review. She is currently a contributor to Fanficable and an editor for Sea Glass Literary. She lives in Alberta, Canada somewhat reluctantly, and when not writing, you can find her gushing over fictional men written by women, fangirling over k-pop groups, having world tours in her living room, and attempting to navigate the turbulent but fascinating waters of teenage life. Like Issa Rae, she is rooting for everybody Black.
Did you try out this template? Share your blurb in the comments...