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 14 (Defender) 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 14 (Defender) 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 14 (Defender) 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'?
     




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