An Exercise in Writing a YA Fantasy Book Blurb

Whenever I’m getting ready to release a new book, I like to perform a “blurb analysis” of several books in the same genre in order to craft my own blurb that will appeal to the same group of people. Today, I thought I’d document that process for you.

Below are the blurbs from three different books in the same genre as what I’m writing (YA Fantasy). I hope you appreciate my analysis and subsequent process to write my blurb.

Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven (192 words)

Being an empath has its advantages.

Harley Merlin can sense people’s emotions, among other things. It’s how she snagged her first job pinpointing cheaters at a casino.

But she has no clue where she got these freakish powers because she spent her childhood jumping from home to home in the foster system, and her father left her with nothing more than a cryptic note.

Then she crosses paths with a terrifyingly real monster. Which is when a mysterious and annoyingly arrogant young warlock named Wade Crowley steps in, introducing her to a hidden world of beasts, magicals, and covens riddled with secrets—as well as clues about her murky past.

Whether she likes it or not, this new world is where she belongs. But after a disturbing twist of events, Harley quickly realizes that her past is darker than she could ever have imagined.

And that someone in the coven is out for her blood.

With the help of Wade and her new friends, she must figure out who the traitor is and why they’re targeting her… Before the human and magical worlds dangerously collide.

Potter fans, welcome to an exciting new world.

Blurb Analysis

Teasing opening line, leaves a question to be answered, six words.

Character name and magical ability. How ability relates to the opening setting.

Mystery behind character’s abilities elaborated on, brings in reader by making it mysterious.

Inciting event, the character is suddenly in peril. Introduce second character, and how he moves her through the plot.

Establish new, unsettled setting/position for main character. Mystery mentioned earlier becomes even more ominous.

Reiteration of character’s mortal danger.

Tease of the main character’s goal… Threat should they not accomplish that goal.

Statement of other franchise ideal readers might enjoy, followed by motivational statement.

A Kingdom of Exiles (167 words)

The brightest of stars are always born on the darkest of nights.

Serena Smith is unusual.

Growing up in a backwoods village, her life is lonely and dull. Then, on her eighteenth birthday, she’s gifted a magical heirloom only to be snatched by fae and condemned to a lifetime in chains.

Dragged to Aldar, a fae kingdom ruled by a tyrant witch, Serena discovers a forbidden love, and meets fellow outcasts, each with their own dark secrets.

As the lives of warriors, rebels, and witches clash,they find a shared destiny. For only together, and with Serena’s unique gifts, can they survive long enough to build the flames of a revolution. Only together can they go to war …

From the author of Draken comes this explosive new fantasy series with lots of heart and a sting in its tail.

What are you waiting for? Scroll up and one-click now to find out why readers all over the world have fallen in love with A Kingdom of Exiles!

Blurb Analysis

Teaser, suggesting darkness within, 12 words.

Reveal of main character and what sets her apart.

Statement of place where main character is coming from, the norm. Inciting event, character thrust out of comfort zone.

New situation, reveal of dark setting, allies/romance, and the mystery surrounding them.

Statement of finding new purpose with said allies. Statement of how the main character’s uniqueness contributes to new purpose. Explanation of the stakes.

The Hundredth Queen (149 words)

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood in the ancient Tarachand Empire, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

Blurb Analysis

Introduction of the main character and her starting out point (the norm). Addresses what sets her apart from others. Statement of original goal.

Inciting event. Negative consequences of that event. Ally introduced.

Statement of the new dangers the main character facs – a mention of romance – and a tease at how the main character might possess to solve the problem.

Coming Up With a New Template

From all of this analysis, I’ve noticed a few trends, and a few things that I like about each. I’m therefore going to pick and choose different things and put them together as a single blurb with the best of all three (in my opinion). I will then use this template to write my blurb.

We should also note that between the three blurbs, they average at 169 words. I’m going to shoot for somewhere in this range, between 150-175 words.

And here is my template:

Teasing opening line, leaves a question to be answered, 5-7 words.

Character name and unique starting situation. Statement of starting goal.

Inciting Event. Introduction of ally and how he moves her through the plot.

Establish new, unsettled setting/dangers for main character.

Statement of new purpose, brief mention of romance with ally. Explanation of the stakes, with teasing mystery, and main character’s uniqueness that will aid her in dealing with new dangers.

Statement of genre appeal. Statement to get people excited to read.

My New Blurb

And with the template above in mind, here is my new blurb. Of course, this is hardly a final product. I will be sure to run it by several others to tweak and improve. But for a first draft, here’s what I’ve got:

Not all Faeries are good…

Una wants only one thing, to find and kill the dragon that drove her out of her childhood home in the heart of Arthurian England.

When a handsome knight frees her from captivity, she learns that she is not the only one who wants the beast dead. The knight is Sir George, a messenger of the Faerie Queen and the man assigned to kill the dragon that still haunts her home.

But the road to get there contains new dangers, long shut out from this world…until now.

Together with her newfound ally, she must survive the dreaded Forest of Arden, return to her homeland, and discover what happened to her family. To get there, she will search within herself and discover an ancient, forbidden magic that is either the key to their survival, or the means to their end.

Knight Rising is a captivating blend of YA fantasy and Arthurian legend. If you like dragons, blossoming romances, and magical showdowns, then you’ll love Jason Hamilton’s fresh take on Edmund Spencer’s classic tale.

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