The Dreaded Question – What is Your Story About

The dreaded question - what is your story about

What’s your story about?

I think there is one question that really throws most authors.

The dreaded question, ‘What is your story about?”

I don’t know about you but I used to stumble through that with something like: “uh, it’s a suspense/thriller. This woman got kidnapped when she was a baby and now as an adult she’s trying to figure out the truth…”

the dreaded question, what is your story about

How do you keep it short and interesting?

I always felt unprepared.

It’s sort of interesting but not really. I always used to do was start with, I write suspense/thrillers or I write romance. I’ve learned not to do that, unless they ask that specifically. The reason I suggest that is because there are amazing books written in every genre but sometimes when you tell someone the genre, you may lose them. They may say, “Oh, I don’t read suspense/thrillers. I don’t read that kind of story.”

I know for me, if you asked if I read dystopian novels, I’d say no. But the truth is that I’ve probably read at least twenty in the last two years alone. They wouldn’t have been my choice to read but the authors did a very good job on selling me on what their story was about. I thoroughly enjoyed each one but I would not have sought out a dystopian type novel to read.


So what do you say, when someone asks, ‘What’s your story about?”


There are three elements that really make a fiction book blurb compelling – setup, capture, intrigue.

Setup is the underlying theme or problem throughout your story.

Capture is the heart of your story – where the protagonist is, where s/he wants to be, the hurdles s/he has to overcome, what brought them to this point, etc.

Intrigue is where you use the climax and ending to pique curiosity – you hint at who wins, who loses or what might happen…

So when someone asks what is my story about, I use the setup, which I tend to write as a bold statement, and then the intrigue. Anytime you are talking about your book, you want the other person to leave being curious. You want them to wonder what happens? What is going on for your protagonist? What will happen to your protagonist? Where does the story go? You want the other person to care.

So how do you use, Setup and Intrigue?

So the setup would look something like this:

     She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead…

and the intrigue would be something like this:

     Can she unravel 30 years of secrets, lies, and deceit, to find the truth?

When you put them together:

     She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead…

     Can she unravel 30 years of secrets, lies, and deceit, to find the truth?

“Setup and Intrigue work well
to grab attention and pique curiosity.”

Keep it short and punchy.

It’s short, simple, clearly states what is going on for the protagonist, and really it is telling the person that it is a suspense/thriller without actually saying that. It will grab people’s attention, even those who don’t read my genre.

So the next time someone asks you what your story is about, you will have a short, punchy comeback that will intrigue them.

I recently did an interview with three lovely ladies who are authors and have created a podcast, called – Self Publishing Authors Podcast or SPA Podcast for short. Each week they provide invaluable tips on writing and publishing. And they have a lot of fun doing it. Click on the button to listen to my conversation with them and how to answer the dreaded question,

“What is your Story About?”

To listen in, click the link below.

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Did you get your 10 Question Cheat Sheet,
to help you write a compelling fiction book blurb?

Why not write a synopsis?

An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.

What is so important about opposites?

Yin and Yang will make all the difference.

What will grab the reader?

A simple layout that is key.

Use Your Reviews With Your Fiction Book Blurb

Use your Reviews with your Fiction Book Blurb
Use your reviews with your fiction book blurbs.

Use your review with your fiction book blurb.

It will help to grab the reader’s attention.

Reviews for an author are something that are really important. You’ve written your novel and the best way to grab attention is through a compelling and interesting book cover, an intriguing and enticing fiction book blurb and the reviews that your fans, your readers write about your book.

What others say about your novel is crucial in grabbing attention. People want to know what other’s think. So make it easy for them to find out, include it with your fiction book blurb. If you look at the best selling authors, they all have a quote by another person, in their case it is usually by another best selling, big name author. If you have that option use it. But most of us don’t have that option, so we need to use what we do have access to.

Reviews are a key way to grab attention.

So how do you use reviews with your fiction book blurb to grab attention?

1. Where do you find your reviews?

– if you are new, there are many reviewers who have blogs who will do reviews, there are book tours where you can ask for reviews, you can ask people you know…

– people who have read your novel may post their review on any of the online bookstores – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, etc.

– people who read your novel may post their review on sites like Goodreads, Library Thing, Bookstr, etc.

2. What do you use from a review?

Here’s an example of a full review. It’s pretty long so using all of it wouldn’t be practical.

Nothing tastes as good as revenge!

Once I had accustomed myself to Author Maggie Thom’s pacing I settled down for what proved to be a fast-paced and suspense charged thriller of a book!

The author has a marvelous talent for laying out numerous plot lines, and merging them with the skill of a surgeon. Many reviewers have covered the basic story-line and it is a complex one. I enjoyed the characterizations so much that they deserve a strong mention.

Meet, Getty. Sixty-seven years old, newly released from a twenty-year prison stretch, for a murder she did not commit. Oh, make no mistake, she murdered someone alright. Just not the man she was alleged to have killed. Getty is fueled by an overpowering need for revenge, intertwined with a guilt she will never shake.

She is out for blood, no matter who gets in her way. The character development is well handled. Getty is not quite what she appears to be. Or is she? That is just one challenge facing the reader, as Author Maggie Thom leads you deeper into the story.

Meet Kyara … Getty’s grandaughter. Kyara, shattered and damaged from the stigma she’s carried all her young life. Wanting to trust, and not knowing how, without exposing herself to yet more hurt and shame.

The author shows us Kyara’s guilt at her own treatment of a mother she’s ashamed of, and her proud determination to discover just who had been responsible for injuring her. Kyara is a strong character amidst a cast of strong characters. The author has created a character we can identify with, making Kyara human and three-dimensional, so she comes alive on the page.

A Myriad of supporting characters enrich the plot, all of them intensely visual, but it is the ever threatening aura of the characters even when they are not present on the page that makes this book the terrific thriller that it is.

Author Maggie Thom has created memorable characters that will linger long after you close the last page.

S. Burke


There’s a lot of information here, so using the whole review is too much. But there are a lot of really good pieces that can be taken out of all of this explanation.

Choose those things that talk about what a good story you’ve written:

“…a fast-paced and suspense charged thriller!” S. Burke


“…The author has created a character we can identify with… she comes alive on the page…” S. Burke


“…it is the ever threatening aura of the characters even when they are not present on the page that makes this book the terrific thriller that it is…” S. Burke

Choose those points that talk about your talent as an author:

“…The author has a marvelous talent for laying out numerous plot lines, and merging them with the skill of a surgeon…” S. Burke


“…Author Maggie Thom has created memorable characters that will linger long after you close the last page…” S. Burke

So out of one review, there are many snipits that I can take and use. There is some great information here and it gives the reader a clear idea of what someone else thought about the story and the author.
“Using a review with your fiction book blurb, is a great way to showcase what others are saying about your novel and/or you as an author.”
Use reviews with your fiction book blurb
Use your reviews also in your marketing.
Give your reader the review they are looking for.

A couple of tips for how to write the reviews:

  • put the part of the review that you’re using in quotation marks
  • if you take from the middle of the fiction book blurb, put (the ellipses) … before the review
  • put … at the end of the quote (if the information you are taking is not the very end of the review)
    (the … show that it is not all of the review, that you are only taking part of it)
  • italicize the words within the quote, it more resembles someone saying it
  • put the name or initials of the person who wrote the review
  • if you have people who have clout who have given the review, use those and put their titles, if they have shared that.

Where do you put the review snip-it you’re using?

You can use the review segment that you’ve chosen, either above or below your fiction book blurb. Be sure that you have at least one on the back cover jacket. And one with the book description on all online book stores – Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, etc. or anywhere you book is hosted online.

Here’s what it should look like.

She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead because of it…

Her life was a lie!

Bailey knew her upbringing wasn’t normal but she’s worked hard to stabilize her life. At 29, she finally has a good business, a stable home; her life is miles from that of her childhood. Then suddenly her mother dies, leaving a gaping hole and a discovery that they may not even be related. If Guy, the private investigator is to be believed, her life is a lie. Using the skills she learned on the streets, Bailey travels back through a sketchy and dangerous past, to find answers. Dodging bullets, staying ahead of those who want her dead and convincing Guy she can do it alone, are making it difficult to discover not only the secrets of her mother’s past but that of a family claiming she is theirs.

Everyone seems to have a story… but who’s telling the truth? And who wants her dead? Is Guy part of the solution? Or part of the problem? To discover the facts, she’ll have to untangle a web of deceit, lies, and secrets, dating back over thirty years.

Maggie Thom writes a fast-paced thriller that is laced with romance and keeps the reader interested and on the edge…” InDtale Magazine

“Using what someone else says, will carry a lot more clout and believe-ability than if you tell the reader from your point of view.”
Why not write a synopsis?
An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.
What is so important about opposites?
Yin and Yang will make all the difference.
What will grab the reader?
A simple layout that is key.

5 Tips to Writing a Compelling Fiction Book Blurb

You have 200 word to go. But they don’t have to be overwhelming and daunting.

Write a Compelling Fiction Book Blurb

Your protagonist or main character is the key to grabbing the reader’s attention and drawing them in to reading your novel.

Simple tips that can make all the difference to how you’re writing your fiction book blurb.

  1. Fiction vs nonfiction – what’s the difference
  2. When to write it?
  3. The Tone
  4. Relevant and Relatable
  5. The layout

Did you get your 10 Question Cheat Sheet, to help you write a compelling fiction book blurb?

Why not write a synopsis?

An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.

What is so important about opposites?

Yin and Yang will make all the difference.

What will grab the reader?

A simple layout that is key.

Join our group -

Write Compelling Fiction Book Blurbs - on Facebook

My Failed Attempt at a Fiction Book Blurb

my failed attempt at writing a fiction book blurb
Write a Compelling Fiction Book Blurb
Writing a compelling fiction book blurb is so important to grabbing the reader’s attention. It’s only 200 words, so how hard could it be?
I’d like to tell you it’s easy but I sure didn’t find it that way for a long time. In fact, it took me publishing 3 novels and reading a lot of information, reading a lot of book blurbs and talking with other authors to really understand how to write a good fiction book blurb.

Those 200 words seemed almost impossible to me at times. It just never made sense that I could write 98,365 words and not be able to write 200 that were dynamite.

But I couldn’t. It didn’t make sense. And I was so overwhelmed with what should I write, how do I take what I know and make it something that a reader would be interested in. It eluded me for a long time

It was interesting but not compelling
So this was one of my failed attempt at writing a fiction book blurb.
Example – not well written:

Tarin has lost a week of her life. She doesn’t know what happened but not long after she returns to work she is suspended from her job. Confused and pregnant, she quits and agrees to marry Stephen, only to be thrown into a whole new nightmare. Realizing she has made a mistake and can’t handle the abuse, she grabs her son and moves across the country…

This isn’t too bad. Maybe even mildly interesting. What do you think?

This information only takes you to Chapter 3 in my story. Eeek. If I’d kept on this path I’d have about two pages for my book blurb as my novel is 55 chapters long. And the excitement, the drama, the intrigue would easily get lost in this. It might grab your attention but I don’t think would it compel many to read my novel. There is just too much detail. It ends up reading more like a mildly interesting short story than an intriguing read that makes you want to read more.

Example – that is good:

She’s lost a week of her life and now, someone wants to steal the secret she is hiding…

Doing whatever it takes to protect her family, Tarin abandons her abusive marriage, rescues her son and flees across country. Unsure who to trust, she plans on using her new job with a Private Investigator, Knight’s Associates, to give her the connections and resources she needs to find answers. Seven days of her life are missing and she doesn’t know why but the consequences of it are undeniable.

Way better, right?

There is more to this fiction book blurb but just wanted to show you how changing up the information and removing a lot of the details is way more attention grabbing. You still know that she was in an abusive marriage and that she escaped but now you’ve got details as to where she went and what she plans on doing about it.

Remember my talking about the Yin and Yang of your story – Opposites do Attract? This is a really good example of putting that into play.

Where she’s at:

‘Tarin is in an abusive marriage but she’s had enough, she grabs her son and flees.’

Where she wants to be:

‘find answers to who stole a week of her life’

“I had to cut the details to be able to make it interesting.”
Make your reader care.
So the first thing I’d suggest is to look at your story and look at what you’ve written for your fiction book blurb. Now how can you take that and make it more concise? remove some of the details?

As I’ve suggested, start with writing your fiction book blurb in a different format than how you wrote your story. So if you find yourself in this place of being caught up in what you’ve already written, follow my suggestions on this blog. It will help you to remove yourself from what you’ve already written and be able to see it differently. You’ll be able to grab the key points and then be able to condense them into something that still gives the information without all the details.

Try to look at your fiction book blurb not through the eyes of the author but the eyes of the reader. What grabs you? What doesn’t? If it grabs your attention it will grab your reader’s as well.

Why not write a synopsis?
An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.
What is so important about opposites?
Yin and Yang will make all the difference.
What will grab the reader?
A simple layout that is key.

Start Writing a Compelling Fiction Book Blurb, Stop Writing a Synopsis

Start Writing a Compelling Fiction Book Blurb, Stop Writing a Synopsis

Start Writing a Compelling Fiction Book Blurb, Stop Writing a Synopsis.

It’s overtaking my life… I don’t know how to make it stop…

Are you frustrated with trying to write a compelling & interesting fiction book blurb? Does it take up a lot of your time? And it still doesn’t sound all that good?

If you’re an indie or self-published author, you’ll have to write the fiction book blurb or you’ll have to find someone to do it for you. Writing the book description is a rather daunting task, which is why many authors would rather avoid it. I know I felt that way for a long time, I struggled with how to start, where to start, and what to write. There was no clear process to follow. I did like most authors, I wrote a synopsis and then used that information to write a fiction book blurb. It took a long time to write and wasn’t all that good.

When I published my second novel, I felt like it took as long to write the fiction book blurb as it did to write my novel. That’s when I decided there had to be an easier way. I got tired of putting so much time, energy, and stress into writing just two hundred words. So, I studied a lot of book blurbs, fiction and nonfiction and I learned what worked and what didn’t and what made the two of them, so different.

Here’s what I discovered about fiction book blurbs.

It’s hard to capture the essence of the story and make it interesting, so that it grabs the readers’ attention.

Do you find yourself struggling with this?

The good news is that you’re not alone. Over 50% of the authors, I surveyed, said they didn’t know how to make their fiction book blurb interesting.


It’s a bit intimidating, isn’t it? You’ve written 50 – 70 – 90,000 words, and now you just need to write 200 more and you find yourself struggling with them. It shouldn’t be difficult, but those 200 words need to give an exciting glimpse inside of those pages. This is where the problem starts. Many authors tend to approach writing the fiction book description like it’s a synopsis. The synopsis is the tell-all of your book. It’s important, if you’re going the traditional publishing route. It isn’t helpful for self or indie published authors, who must write their own fiction book blurb.

Here’s why.

Writing a synopsis is time consuming and can soon put you into overwhelm. There’s a lot of information to sift through. You look at all that happened in your story and search through all the details. Then you try to decide which ones to include and which ones to leave out. And then you’re trying to summarize that information to make it sound like the story. What often happens, though, is that you can find yourself telling, a ‘this then that happened’, kind of scenario. And you’re writing the information exactly like you wrote it in your story.

The sad truth, is that even after all that work, some of the key compelling points may still be missing.

Start writing a compelling fiction book blurb, stop writing a synopsis.

You want to put the heart and soul of your story into your fiction book blurb, but it isn’t happening. Your story is good, so how do you decide what to pull out and share with your readers? And how do you make it grab their attention?

The fiction book blurb has a whole different purpose than the synopsis and that’s why it needs to be approached with a different mindset.

Ask your story a few key questions:

Who is my protagonist? What’s important to know about my protagonist? Who is s/he/it?

Who is my antagonist? Why is my antagonist being mean to my protagonist?

What is the main conflict between them?

There are four key events that occur within your story, what are they?

a)    The Kick Start – what got my story going

b)    The Back Story – what brought this story to this point

c)    The Climax – what is the big clash

d)    The Ending – what events get tied up

The kick start and the back story are a great way to share the theme or the underlying conflict in your story. This is important as it gives the reader a sense of what is the main struggle the protagonist is dealing with. It tells where the protagonist was, where the protagonist is at now and where the protagonist wants to be.

To tease the reader, as to where the story is going, use the climax and ending. Does the protagonist win? Does the protagonist lose? Does the antagonist win? Does the antagonist lose?

In answering these questions, ensure you’re not just putting down information. What grabbed you in your story? What emotions did you feel? What feelings do you want to evoke in your reader? You want your reader to experience what the protagonist is going through. This is key to connecting the reader to your story and drawing them in to want to read your novel.

Your fiction book blurb needs to show the intrigue, the mystery, and the emotion, of your story.

The information in your fiction book blurb doesn’t have to be in the same order as your story.  You want to use your answers from the above questions and write a new, short story. Do not think of it as a summary. It is something new and enticing but it does reflect the journey of your protagonist.

People love mysteries and essentially every story is an unknown, until they’ve read it. To draw the reader in, build on that mystery of where your story is going.

Take back your time and lower your stress.

Start writing a compelling fiction book blurb, stop writing a synopsis.

Hi, I’m Glenna Mageau

The way I teach how to write your fiction book blurb will change how you write it and simplify the process so it takes less time and less stress.

I’m an award winning author of four published suspense/thrillers. I frequently get compliments on how intriguing my books sound from the fiction book blurb. When I pulled my first novel, Captured Lies from an Traditional Publisher and decided to Indie Publish, I had no idea the steep learning curve I was on. Determined to figure out what made a good fiction book blurb and then how to create one, I spent many, many hours and tears figuring out a different and simpler way of doing it.

I show you some simple steps that will help you to write enticing, attention-grabbing book blurbs in a fraction of the time. I take out the guesswork. That means you’ll have more time to write your next novel

Opposites Do Attract, Especially When Writing Your Fiction Book Blurb

opposites do attract especially when writing your fiction book blurb

Opposites do attract, especially when writing your fiction book blurb

It’s always a process of deciding what to include in your fiction book blurb and what not to. If you’ve followed my suggestion, you will have started writing or at least keeping notes as you write your novel. These notes will save you hours and maybe even days or weeks of stress. Just think you’ve finished writing your novel and now have all the notes you need to write a compelling fiction book blurb.

What do you do with all that information?

There is still a fair bit of information to go through but the real issue is how to put it together so that is appealing to the reader.

One of the key things is to make sure that you are connecting the reader to your protagonist. Who your protagonist is and what happens to him/her/it, is so important to the reader. They want to know that your protagonist is real, going through real struggles and then what is the protagonist doing to get over, through or beyond those struggles.

This is where the opposites really works. You have your protagonist in one situation but they want to be in another. Where are they at and what are they reaching for.

For example:

Your protagonist is a waitress working in a diner at $10/hour in small town, middle of nowhere. But she wants to be a singer in Nashville. There are no bars, clubs or other places for her to perform, so how is she going to get there.

It grabs your attention because you have this woman who is making little money, working hard, in a small, unknown place (not so much of an issue now adays with the internet but still can be a problem) but she has big dreams. How is she going to make it happen? So use the opposites of where someone is to where they want to be. What are the obstacles in his/her way of getting there.

Or you have this man married to one woman but in love with another. His wife though is in a wheelchair because of his negligence, so it’s not like he can leave her.

Already this grabs your attention. There is conflict but it is the opposites of what is happening in his life that intrigues the reader to want to know what he’s going to do. He’s married to one woman, in love with another and then has the guilt of being responsible for his wife being physically disabled. It really peaks your curiosity, doesn’t it? What is he going to do?

So take the information you have about your main character:

This is from my latest novel, Split Seconds:

Tijan – grew up on a ranch and helps run it, she goes to the big city of Toronto (which she’s never been to) to find a twin sister she thought had died when they were little, she’s single, loves wide open spaces, horseback riding, is a hard worker, has a great relationship with her mom and step dad, meets a man who is her father whom she thought was dead, he is the coldest man she has ever met and he doesn’t seem to know she exists, she always believed that a father was a warm, kind man.

and write your opposites

Tijan, a country girl searching in the big city for a twin sister, she thought had died when they were little, finds herself abducted… by her father. A cold, heartless man, who was nothing like what Tijan thought a father should be. And he doesn’t seem to know she exists. He thinks he has her twin sister, the one she never got to grow up with.

There are a few opposites here – a country girl in the city, searching for a twin she thought had died, meeting her father who she also thought had died, discovering he is nothing like she thinks a father should be, the fact that he doesn’t know she exists.

Give the reader the conflict in the protagonist’s life. Let them see the opposites. Intrigue them with where the protagonist is, what are they going to do to solve or deal with those issues and then leave the reader with wanting to know how they are going to do that and what happens to them.


It is true, opposites do attract.

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