Blurb Critique Thread

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

  1. 4u2EatGrass

    4u2EatGrass If i runed the world... LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This is great advice and i'm taking it to use. Thank you.

     
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  2. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Sorry for the long absence. I just moved from GA to CO. Anyway...back to blurbs. Starting with @Gryphon 's

    Lol. Yay for keeping the proper nouns to the essentials! ^_^ It's pretty good, yet I feel that it's missing out on having that "the next level" feel it needs.
    1. The four question-answer pairs at the beginning are 1-2 too many. I can say from experience that this pattern bothers a non-trival segment of the population very easily so keep it short.
    2. Too many questions at the end of the blurb. Ending the blurb on a dramatic question is a tactic of debatable merits, but two is probably too many.
    More important than nit-picks though. Lemme ask you this: Does this blurb invoke curiosity, dread, investment, or mystery?

    This is instinctual so YMMV. My gut isn't getting any of those reactions when I read it though,
    • Curiosity: low. Maybe that's because I don't know Incipere (yet). If so, that's not on me haha. Blurbs are mostly for new readers who don't know squat about your world or previous books.
    • Dread: low. The MCs seem totally OP and while reality itself seems at risk, I don't have a feel for how that challenges them. Is this a threat? More pointedly, does it put them in a character-driven pinch? You don't have to explain fully but it's good if you can imply a pinch.
    • Investment: none. Top-of-the-world glory fighters loved by the gods...I don't want to be rude, but their depiction makes me vehemently ambivalent towards the MCs. I know nothing of what they want, what they are struggling for, and how the plot will endanger any of it.
    • Mystery: none. It seems pretty clear-cut what's happening. They live in a computer and it's crashing now. Gotta fix it. There's no hooky contradictions or oddities to make me wonder about the setting, characters, or plot.
    Not to say that you have to have all of these, few blurbs do, but at least one is the minimum to get a reaction from the intended audience.

    I hope that's not overly critical. As I dug into why the blurb bugs me, I found the words to explain. Don't throw it out. I feel that you've got a good foundation to work from here.
     
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  3. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This has some good parts, but overall it's too long and detailed. For example, lemme just cut stuff a prospective reader doesn't need to know [to make a buy-decision].

    Vash Daniels was born without arms or legs, and his family is a dysfunctional mess of outcasts in a post-war authoritarian society. However, he loves life and living, and uses this optimism to win a high-end VR cortical modem in a contest. With it, he is able to enter the Metaverse.

    But when tragedy strikes and his already precarious life falls apart, Vash must enter a guerrilla battle royale-style eSports tournament known as the Tournament of Titans just to survive.

    This won't be easy, meeting the tournament's requirements will require his complete attention during a time when his mother is weakest and the corporate-run State hounds them for every last penny. To save his family, he will face off against players who have who have mastered the ways of the game and are just as eager to stake their claim to its riches.​

    There's a lot of phrasing and such that needs to be smoothed out, but see how much tighter the blurb is? This here is about the right length IMO. I'd encourage you to play with this structure and see if you can maximize its hookyness and punchyness without making it longer.


    Wow, that's a lot of hooks. I'm curious! This book sounds like a wild ride. ^__^

    The blurb is a bit of a mess. You're actually suffering from cramming in so much awesome. In this case, try to get it more in line with a more standard blurb structure (like tagline-setup-twist or intro-twist-doom, etc...)

    For example,

    Paul Chain seeks adventure in Tarranta, a steampunk city-state of renouned progress and industry. His plans to join a guild* are derailed, however, when he is framed for the triple-murder of the realm's grand duchesses. Fleeing aboard a ghost ship in the sky with only a dark goddess and a murderous automaton as his allies, Paul will uncover the sinister truth festering just out of this city's sight: one which moves him to act against the same city he was once so eager to explore.

    But dark forces amass beyond his view and seek to complicate his just cause: Nazi vampires, aristocratic werewolves, social Darwinist elves, undercity gangs, and a mysterious witchcult of which he is falsely claimed to be a part. Even worse, he's the only member of his party who isn't a morally bankrupt lunatic.

    In his situation, you take whatever help you can get.​

    *We need to know the 'what' much less than the 'why'. Why is he going raiding? What desire does it fullfill? (and which the twist will threaten) Also, Is this a litrpg? The blurb doesn't make that clear.

    Ignoring the crazy sentence structure I just dolled out ^_^;; do you see how this blurb tells more of a story and makes the reader want to know more?

    Lastly, I would rephrase or remove "But dark forces amass beyond his view and seek to complicate his just cause". Beyond view and complications do not speak of direct conflict. This statement makes all those Nazi Vampires sound distant and unrelated to the plot. It weakens the cool factor.

    There are lots of great material here though, keep refining it and you'll have something solid soon.
     
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  4. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Great advice, and right in line of my own thoughts. I had a very nasty feeling the ToT blurb was over-long. The only part I disagree with removing is the last line: without establishing Vash's statement "Bring it on," the blurb does lose the establishing theme of the story.

    As for Walpurgisnacht, I also felt that the blurb was chaotic but couldn't quite pin in what exactly what was wrong. However, explaining why he's going raiding (or wanted to, at least) is probably the most obvious thing to add in hindsight since it would tie together the first paragraph.
    And yes, it is litRPG. However, it's one of those "gamified world" litRPGs (though there is a twist that'll only become important in a later book). I figured, however, that the eventual title and cover would communicate that well enough.
     
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  5. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Thanks! I hope it helps.
     
  6. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Also, honestly I don't think the ToT blurb you made can be any better. It gets everything across in the way I wanted, is punchy and concise, and really only lacks the aforementioned exclamation as well some of the stakes.

    I'd rewrite it as


    Vash Daniels was born without arms or legs, and his family is a dysfunctional mess of outcasts in a post-war authoritarian society. However, he loves life and living, and uses this optimism to win a high-end VR cortical modem in a contest. With it, he is able to enter the Metaverse.

    But when tragedy strikes and his already precarious life falls apart, Vash must enter a guerrilla battle royale-style eSports tournament known as the Tournament of Titans just to survive.

    This won't be easy: he has only one month to meet the tournament's requirements. And if he wants to save his family, he must face off against players from across the world who have who have mastered the ways of the game and are just as eager to stake their claim to its riches.

    To the world, he says, "Bring it on."



    I'm still not entirely pleased because there's no mention of it being in an MMORPG ("eSports" brings specific connotations, and specifying which genre would ward off confused readers expecting something closer to a MOBA shooter), nor any mention of the authoritarian state, and even the level cap is only indirectly mentioned. But I don't want to make the blurb too long. My plan is to use the original blurb for the back of the paperback (that's actually what I wrote it for), but I'll have to rewrite it for the Kindle version.

    ___________________________



    Paul Chain seeks adventure in Tarranta, a steampunk city-state of renowned progress and industry, after being invited and promised easy & well-paying work by the three grand duchesses. With a guaranteed start setting him ahead of the competition, he hopes to join a guild and establish himself as a hero of the realm. His plans are derailed, however, when he is framed for the triple-murder of the grand duchesses. Fleeing aboard a ghost ship in the sky with only a dark goddess and a murderous automaton as his allies, Paul will uncover the sinister truth festering just out of this city's sight: one which moves him to act against the same city he was once so eager to explore.

    Standing against him: a smug Nazi vampire, aristocratic werewolves, social Darwinist elves, undercity gangs, and a mysterious witchcult of which he is falsely claimed to be a part. Even worse, he's the only member of his party who isn't a morally bankrupt lunatic.

    But in his situation, you take whatever help you can get.


    ____________________

    Lastly, I'm glad you didn't touch Pyramids' blurb because I'm still trying to figure out how to structure it. Since it's supposed to be a short story cycle/composite novel, it's definitely not a story that you can really use the set up-twist-pay off blurb structure.
     
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  7. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    The thing about this as a blurb is I don't even need to read the book now.

    This is a synopsis you give to an agent, not a blurb to entice the reader. It's completely plot, and so much of the plot, there is nothing apparently un-telegraphed.

    There is nothing about this to invest me in the main character, and entice me to read his story.
     
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  8. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  9. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I've not really read back along this thread. Just what has been posted since I joined. And a lot of the time, I don't comment anymore, as a lot of authors don't like their blurbs being taken apart.

    But sometimes I do comment, so I'm gad I hit the right nerve with it. :) So often I hit a raw nerve instead.

    Rather than asking if anyone else agrees, why not rewrite the blurb now taking out everything which is plot and backstory. And give those reading an alternative they can compare. Just a suggestion. :)
     
  10. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Welcome to Tarranta, a steampunk city-state of progress and industry. Newcomers are welcomed by an endless number of guilds, quests, and opportunities for adventure. This beckons Paul Chain, an aspiring hero, to seek his fortunes. But when he is framed for a grisly crime that pits him against the Grand Duke and the entirety of Tarranta's forces, he must struggle to survive against a royal onslaught and clear his name. Not helping his case are his only allies: a dark goddess and a sadistic automaton. But in his situation, he'll take whatever help he can get.
     
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  11. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    That's a lot better! :)

    Is there any need to use 'Steampunk city-state'?
     
  12. David M Zahn

    David M Zahn Level 10 (Filcher) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    wanting to get some feedback on my working blurb for this first book in my new young adult series, so please give me some feed back blurby blurbists.

    The Series is titled Dungeon Academy

    Blurb:

    Ethan Russell has always been poor, but up into now it hasn’t made him stand out. That changes when he wins a financial scholarship to the elite Hinan Academy in the small coastal town of Misty Oaks.

    While the school is amazing not everything in town is as it seems. Strange creatures are appearing all around town while rumors of missing people run rampant and deep beneath the school is something that will change Ethan forever

    …if he can survive long enough.


    Basically its a Young Adult, School Life, Urban Fantasy type story. There's a japanese/yokai influence that comes into play with the main characters discovering a dungeon beneath the school. They get powers in the form of colored spirit armor and weapons.
     
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  13. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This is a good start but the book you describe in your synopsis at the end of the post sounds way cooler to me than the book in the blurb.

    For example, the blurb [and title] say nothing about magic or youkai. For all I know, it's a contemporary archeological thriller set in an ivy league school with a fresh prince twist.

    The synopsis though, that sounds like an anime-style magical battle highschool set up where they train via dungeon delving. (to me anyway, making a ton of assumptions here.)

    I think the main issue is too much generic language and not enough hooks. Phrases like "is amazing" don't tell us anything and we don't even know the school is magical so we can't appreciate "not everything in town is as it seems." Same goes for "Strange creatures"--a great place to mention youkai or something youkai-esque so we can guess for ourselves.

    Last criticism, the blurb is focused on Ethan (good) but it doesn't tell us about him. What does he want? How will this story empower/endanger ('both' is great) his ability to get it? These are critical things to establish cause readers won't be invested in Ethan without them. Try to state the desire and then imply the empowering and threatening, make us wonder about what horrible choices he might have to make.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
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  14. David M Zahn

    David M Zahn Level 10 (Filcher) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Well clearly I need to do some work on this. It doens't mention Yokai because none of the students or the readers know that's what the strange creatures/apparitions are. The school itself is normal (if rich/preppy/elite) and teaches regular subjects. The magic/supernatural element comes into play from the dungeon and 99% of the school doesn't know the dungeon exists. I get what your saying about Ethan. Basically he came to school just wanting to make it through his classes and relieve some of the financial pressure off of his mother and sister but through the story he's going to do more than just survive school he's going to learn he can be more and all that cheesy shit.

    Let's see:

    Dungeon Academy

    German Dungeon Porn is back baby and this time it makes it's way to a Toyko Highschool! Join Naruto and Goku as they try to navigate the halls of the most perverted highschool around! Featuring the bodacious bouncing breasts of the ladies from that Salior Moon show.

    Ha just kidding. This time I'mma be serious.


    Ethan Russell and his family have always been poor, Most days are spent just trying to survive they best that they can. Little changes when he wins a financial scholarship to the elite Hinan High School Academy in the small California coastal town of Misty Oaks. He accepts it in order to relieve some of the finanical pressure on his mom and sister but plans to involve himself in life at the school at little as possible and just survive like he's always done.

    Upon reaching the school and this supposedly normal town it immediately becomes clear that not everything is as it should be. Strange creatures and apparitions are appearing all around town while rumors of missing people run rampant and deep beneath the school is something that will change Ethan forever. While the most obvious threats are on the outside, Ethan's biggest problem is definitely on the inside. If he can overcome himself, he'll do more than just survive.
     
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  15. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Lol! I gotta not read this while eating lunch. I almost inhaled my rice.
     
  16. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Hrm, that's sorta more info, but less drama... Let's attack this from another angle.

    Forget the blurb for a minute.

    What does Ethan want before the plot starts?
    What does he want after the plot starts?
    What weakness/flaw is he overcoming?
    What is the central conflict? (Using no more than one paragraph.)

    and by want, I mean a serious want. Like, what does he desire so badly that he's willing to throw himself into danger to get?
     
  17. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 5 (Veteran) Citizen

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    Hi everyone. I'm new at this but I've been writing a wuxia/xianxia novel when I found out this forum.
    Am I free to share my blurbs or is it litrpg-only?
     
  18. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I don't mind, but I am not the Lorax of Litrpgforum.com. ^_^
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  19. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 5 (Veteran) Citizen

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    As no one said anything, I'll try it out. Any of them stands out?

    Option 1;

    The objective is simple: Avenge the brutal slaughtering of his friends and family.

    The path to victory for seventeen-year-old Jin begins the moment the Kaji School attacks. The vicious assault awakens his black chi.

    With his abilities in full effect, Jin embarks on a harrowing quest that will put him face-to-face with a secret from his past, an unexpected mentor, and unspeakable dangers.

    The threat of demonic beasts, immortal men, a clandestine martial arts underworld and otherworldly enemies are real. His survival is not guaranteed, but his will to avenge the deaths of his loved ones pushes him forward, far beyond his limits, and closer to a previously unfathomable reality.

    If he fails, all will be lost, but should he succeeds, the cultivator trained necromancer will finally find his true destiny and solidify his place in the universe.


    Option 2;

    Ruled by a thirst for revenge, one young man must come to terms with his past and embrace his strengths or risk lives and continue life under Kaji rule.

    Seventeen-year-old Jin enjoys a peaceful life… until the Kaji School descends upon his village. At that moment, he vows to avenge his loved ones’ deaths and see to it that it never happens again, but his journey will not be without more trials and tribulations.

    The tragedy awakens his black chi and reveals startling revelations about where he comes from and what that means for his future. After several days of intense training by a powerful cultivator, he’s ready to battle any threat, or so he thinks.

    The Kaji are formidable opponents, prepared to give their lives for their cause and determined to hold steadfast to their control by any means necessary.

    Can the young, inexperienced necromancer complete his mission or is he in over his head?


    Option 3;

    Seventeen-year-old Jin is fired up for revenge when the kaji school ravages his village and kills his adoptive parents and his friends.
    The tragedy awakens his necromancer powers leading him to kill all soldiers on sight.

    Rescued by a powerful cultivator that has been secretly watching him and after discovering the truth about what forced his parents to leave him, it's time for Jin to put his hands to work and face the future. Training might lead him to explore his dark chi and raise the dead, but can also be the start of a dangerous path.

    A deadly quest with demonic beasts, immortal men, a clandestine martial arts underworld, and otherworldly enemies await him.
    If he fails, all will be lost, but should he succeed, the cultivator trained necromancer will finally find his true destiny and solidify his place in the universe.
     
  20. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I think they all have good pieces. Lemme see if I can sew something together from the best parts. What do you think of this?

    Seventeen-year-old Jin enjoys a peaceful life… until the Kaji School descends upon his village. Now, his objective is simple: Avenge the brutal slaughtering of his friends and family.

    The tragedy awakens his black chi and with it a dangerous future of cultivation, family secrets, and a chance for justice. Even with training, it won't be easy. The Kaji are formidable opponents, prepared to give their lives for their cause and determined to hold steadfast to their control by any means necessary.

    The threat of demonic beasts, immortal men, a clandestine martial arts underworld and otherworldly enemies are real. His survival is not guaranteed and he'll need more than just will to push beyond his limits, and closer to the previously unfathomable reality awaiting him at the end.

    If he fails, all will be lost, but should he succeeds, the wielder of necromantic chi will finally find his true destiny and solidify his place in the universe.
    So that is all "for example", so please tweak it to your liking. What I'm trying to do here is to frame the blurb with the main character's wants and goals at the focus without giving away too much of the plot...while also showing some of the hooks. While also giving both hope and fear that he'll succeed and providing impetus for why he must do so right now. ^_^
     




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