Monday, March 12, 2012

Spoiler Syndrome

I see it almost every day at A writer's looking for help with a blurb, but it's impossible to give. Why? I have no idea what the story's about. Blurb after blurb reads something like:

This guy [but I can't tell you his name] does something amazing [but I can't tell you what it is or what it does] that may change the world [but I can't tell you how]. Someone [but I can't tell you who] wants to do something else with the something amazing [but I can't tell you what that is]. It's a rollercoaster ride of suspense!

The only suspense is what the hell the book is about. Trust me, no one will buy that book to discover if it really is a rollercoaster of suspense. You haven't built interest with all the hanging questions in that blurb; you've deflected it.

"Yes," says the writer, "but I'm afraid to give too much of the story away." If this is what you're struggling with, friend, you have Spoiler Syndrome.

Studies have actually shown that getting spoiled doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the reader/viewer. Not that you should reveal the entire plot in your blurb, but don't hesitate to give people the essentials. In fact, you must give people more information than not.

A great rule Edward W. Robertson put forth at, partially paraphrased:
Any details in the first half of the book are fair game. If something unexpected happens in the first half, that's not a twist. That's a hook.
One way to break through Spoiler Syndrome: Write a draft of the blurb giving EVERYTHING away. All of it. Then pare it back until you have the basics of what the book is about.

Succumbing to Spoiler Syndrome will leave you with a mushy blurb, a blurb that gives no indication of what makes your story different or even what it's about. Look your blurb over and see if you need to give away more, not less.

More blurb-writing tips here.


  1. "You haven't built interest with all the hanging questions in that blurb; you've deflected it."

    Absolutely. When I read a blurb like that, I usually don't even finish the blurb, much less have a closer look at the book. If you're that bad at grabbing my attention with the one short piece of text in a book that is designed to do nothing but, I will not even contemplate what the rest of your writing is like.

  2. I AGREE!

    May I re-post this as a guest article on a new site I'm involved in: And/or would you like to do a longer version as a guest post?