Blurb Critique Thread

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Paul Bellow, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I've re-read this post several times and pondered it a lot. Haha, you're reaching the uncanny valley of blurbing--it's pretty good but something feels really off at the same time.
    After more thought, I'm still feeling like there's not enough hooks and too many abstract statements.

    For example: Here's the blurb with lines that convey no information (or are redundant) removed/modified.

    She’s one of only a few who knows it’s just a game…

    While the screens, stats, and combat notifications are normal to most citizens, Scout holds on to the truth. Everyone is trapped in a simulation: a kill or be killed world of survival.

    As Scout goes about befriending powerful people in one of many underground shelters, she stumbles upon an intriguing item in the black market, a mysterious, non-functioning beacon. Is this the answer? Fighting back against those who have amassed power in the game and who are trying to stop her, Scout struggles for freedom and a way out for all.

    Explore the costs of survival on an apocalyptic, virtual world thought to be real…

    Perhaps posting a synopsis of the plot would help us help you. I'd love to stick more specifics into that blurb to illustrate what it needs to be stronger.

    Edit: Oops, forgot the final line of the blurb. Added it.
     
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  2. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Hah. I think it's a Frankenstein blurb at this point.

    Short synopsis...

    First Act:

    Book starts a few months into Scout's ordeal during a raid by mutants. Her friend Missy's brain is a bit fried after whatever happened, so she's been looking out for her while just trying to survive day to day. After the latest mutant attack, she decides to work to climb the social ladder in the underground shelter. She befriends the leader's (Orlando runs her shelter) right hand man and volunteers to help him with black market activities. Harrison is mostly worried about getting credits for selling a beacon to an unknown shelter. She gets caught and they're banished from the shelter! Harrison sneaks the beacon out.

    Second Act:

    They're desperately trying to survive outside the shelter. After one night, they're overrun by mutants. Right before they die, the beacon activates! They've stumbled upon an experimental shelter nobody had been using, but it's filled with mutants. They fight their way through over several weeks. After clearing and exploring the previously unoccupied shelter, they come across a boring machine - literally a machine to bore tunnels. It's run by AI and offers to help them. They find another shelter deeper underground and a map and other advanced tech. During this time, she has new "leader" powers in the "game" that are kinda like base-building. So, it went from her making a move in act one to actually being in control. Other survivors show up and ask her for help. They're growing their base and power.

    Orlando attacks! Someone betrayed them! They can't find Missy! They tell Merlin to leave and hide himself so he doesn't get captured. She relinquishes control of the shelter. Instead of killing them, Orlando sends them to run his old shelter which is more rundown, etc. They assume control of the inferior shelter and run into some hard "Frost Punks-esque" decisions like killing a dozen people to make sure the rest survive. They do okay in their new lives, but Orlando keeps asking for more and more. The people they're in charge of are dying from lack of supplies due to ORlando's excess. They end up killing some of Orlando's men. They know he'll attack, so they get ready.

    Merlin returns to help them preemptively attack Orlando and regain control of the new/experimental shelter with more powers. Big attack on the other shelter with small force since they'll have surprise and Merlin's help. They get Orlando to back down. He remembers the real world now and has gone even crazier. Missy wasn't the one who betrayed them. Merlin restores Missy and Scout's memory. She remembers the real world more definitely but still doesn't have answers. Merlin was a help script for the original virtual reality world. He evolved to help the players trapped in the game. He doesn't know who's behind the hack, but there was definitely a hack. Merlin leaves again.


    Third Act:

    They're using their new resources and power to protect themselves. Things are going well until an army of advanced soldiers shows up outside their door. They're from another game world. They're after Scout because she remembered the real world. Newcomers don't know about Merlin or that he can give players back their memories. The game system is fighting Merlin. Newcomer gives them a 24 hour deadline to surrender. Orlando comes back and admits he opened the portal to the other game as a way to get supplies and more power. He wants to help them fight the newcomers. They debate it, eventually allowing him to help. Plans for the big battle. New technology from the other game world - magical. They repel the invaders, chasing them back to the portal which is in a cave. They escape through the portal. They don't have what's needed to get through themselves.

    Last chapter is a year after that - she gives birth in the game - and a new stranger comes through the portal looking for her specifically. Tease the water-world-esque of book two - Aqua Punk.

    Writing this out, I'm doubting the book itself now. Heh. Basically, I wanted to shift from her on the bottom to her getting more power, then losing power, then getting even more power - but still powerless to find answers to the deeper questions.
     
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  3. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I love the Frost-Punk base-building premise and how' discovering it gives Scout power and also puts her in conflict with the setting. This sounds right up my alley. ^_^

    So what's worrying you about it?
     
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  4. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I think it's just fear of having another lack luster book on the market. It's an intriguing premise, but I don't know if I've pulled it off well enough.

    I'm just doubting myself a lot lately.
     
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  5. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I understand. I feel that way about FFO2.

    But have you seen the town-builder recommendations thread? There's some legit pent up demand for a litrpg of the type you have.
     
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  6. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    That is better, yeah. Now it needs to connect to the next part.

    For example, in italics...

    He was hoping to survive first term without lighting too many things on fire but overly flammable ancient books become a small concern when the academy falls under attack by the mysterious Reapers.

    A [hook for the reapers] who are looking for two very special students and a letter that might change the world as they know it.

    Etc...
     
  7. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Thank you
    Would something like ...

    "The infamous murderers, of whom little is known, are looking for two very special students and a letter that might change the world as they know it."

    or something else?
     
  8. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Thanks. I'm not going to throw it away, but I've made some changes since talking to you about the blurb. We shall see how it turns out. Thanks again!
     
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  9. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Thats pretty good. But how are they both infamous and little known?
     
  10. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    There are reports about what they do (killing and kidnapping) but besides that, there's not much more
    No one knows who they are or the true reasons behind it
     
  11. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Someone reading your blurb doesn't know that though. They will just see a contradiction that looks like a mistake (not a hook) in your blurb and readers always blame the author for things they perceive as such. That's why I pointed it out.
     
  12. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Should I just keep the infamous part? and delete the "of whom little is known" ?
     
  13. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    You could just remove the "of whom is little known" part.

    Really I was trying to push you towards replacing that segment("The infamous murderers, of whom little is known...") with something more specific and hooky, if possible. They are called the Reapers, so we already can guess they are probably shadowy killer types. The next 2-3 words about them are a chance to color the Reapers in even more to create a strong hook (so irony, dread, or mystery).

    I'll admit that I may be asking too much ^_^ but this is part of the exercise of blurbs - cramming in as much cool as possible while still being understandable, concise, and fun. Feel free to be like, "That'll do Trav... That'll do..." ^_^
     
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  14. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Would something like this work?

    "Known for several homicides and kidnapping they are looking for (...)"

    "Known by what they do but not by who they are they are on the lookout for two (...)"
     
  15. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I think we're circling an issue. Forget the blurb for a moment and let's talk about the Reapers.

    Say I'm a veteran character, so not some newb but also not some giant top-level badass. Point is, let's say I'm playing someone in your world and I'm not easily pushed around or scared. These Reapers are coming after me for some reason.

    Explain why I should care.

    Keep in mind, I'm playing a salty battle-guy who has been through some shit. If the Reapers are just a bunch of shadowy stabby guys, my attitude is gonna be "Meh. let them come, I'll f**cking fry them if they knife me."

    Your goal is to instill fear in me.
     
  16. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Parents tell their sons about the Reapers. No one knows who they truly are or what they end goal is.
    Stories are shared about Reapers killing and kidnapping people for experiments but no one can be really sure
     
  17. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Still not quite what I was looking for. I wanted an actual description of them. Something with specific teeth that could be hinted at for hook purposes. Like, "Men of shadows who wield knives of ancient blood. We don't even know if Reapers are born, or if they are made. Their victims vanish in the night without a trace from behind locked doors. Those few who have killed a Reaper say that the bodies dissolve in the dawn's first light."

    Cause then I'd suggest something like,

    He was hoping to survive first term without lighting too many things on fire but overly flammable ancient books become a small concern when the academy falls under attack by the mysterious Reapers.
    Men of shadows and ancient blood who are looking for two special students and a letter that might change the world as they know it.​

    Anyway, I'm gonna bring up this back to the whole blurb cause I'm having trouble piecing it together across two pages of posts. Don't wanna get lost in the forest for the trees.

    When Alec was a kid, he was forced to accept an implant made by the gods - a chip that granted random powers and the possibility to see everyone's status.
    Now, at age 20, his fledgling fire sorcerer ability enables him to get in the prestigious Drexus academy despite his poor upbringing.

    He was hoping to survive first term without lighting too many things on fire but overly flammable ancient books become a small concern when the academy falls under attack by the mysterious Reapers. Men only whispered of in fearful rumors who are looking for two special students and the letter that could change the world.

    Alec and five classmates are chosen to undertake a dangerous journey to seek help. Along the way through, they learn about the chips. Can they use the truth to save everything or will it doom them all?​

    That'd be my suggested version. Though it still has two bits I think need work,
    1. Alec sent for help b/c of the Reaper attack implies to me that there's an on-going situation at the academy involving the Reapers. Like, they have taken control of the school or something. I'm not sure, just a gut feeling but gut counts for a lot on blurbs. Do you see what I'm saying here? (hopefully not, cause then maybe this isn't a problem haha).
    2. The letter is an isolated concept. I imagine it's the truth about the chips or leads them to the truth. IMO the blurb needs to mention the letter once more to tie it in with everything else.
    ^__^ I hope that's not too much. It looks like the blurb is coming together to me. Bang the last few pieces into place and all that's left is tuning (word choices n such).

    How do you feel about it so far Andre?
     
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  18. Thomas Davidsmeier

    Thomas Davidsmeier Level 10 (Filcher) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Paul, have you ever played Fallout Shelters? I found it to be an extremely addictive game that sounds similar in set up to the world/game you're talking about setting your series in.
     
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  19. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Thank you! That's amazing.
    Truth be said, there's not much about the reapers (that most people know of).
    People just know they have powers but they have people who have them. There are myths about experiments and stories are shares and told to kids but that's pretty much it.

    1 - They are sent to seek help because the academy gets raided and the reapers are winning. There's also a new character that's too strong for them and they have to flee.

    2 - Yes, the letter has the truth. But they never read it until they get to Relics (their destination).
     
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  20. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    You're welcome! I'm glad you like it.

    Do you want to work on it anymore or is that good for you? We could keep tweaking it here but the issues I listed are pretty minor IMO. Looks like #1 is as it is in the story, so that's not a problem at all.
     
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