Blurb Critique Thread

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

  1. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 6 (Footpad) Citizen

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    Thank you!
    Writing a blurb seems harder than writing the book itself
     
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  2. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 8 (Thug) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Blurb writing is a completely different skill.
     
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  3. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    You're welcome. ^_^

    I agree with what @HunterLegacyUniverse said, it's just a different skill. The blurb is ad-copy, which is marketing writing.

    This thread is a history of the process though, so when you're ready to learn I'd really recommend just reading old posts. You'll find a ton of iterative examples done by multiple authors for a wide range of books. It's kinda a resource at this point IMO.
     
  4. David M Zahn

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

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    Sorry it took me so long to respond. I've been crazy busy this past week or so.

    What does Ethan want before the plot starts? - He wants to survive going to this boarding school because it will help his mother and sister out financially (won't have to worry about his expenses).

    What does he want after the plot starts? - After the plot starts he actually wants nothing to do with the dungeon, he still just wants to survive up until his roommate's brother is attacked by another person marked by the dungeon in black armor ("The Black") and nearly killed. Then he wants to find out more about the dungeon and discover who The Black is and stop them from hurting anyone else.

    What weakness/flaw is he overcoming? He has an anger problem and is physically weak. There's more but those probably cause him the most issues.

    What is the central conflict? (Using no more than one paragraph.) There's two conflicts related that i touched on in the second question. First is the dungeon: What is it? Why is it marking people? What is it's heart that it demands they find? It won't leave a marked person alone if you try to ignore it. Second is The Black another person who has been marked an attacked a student and eventually kidnaps one and throws them in the dungeon. Ethan and Co. will end up trying to and rescuing that student.

    I appreciate your help on this and I hope that my answers make sense to you.
     
  5. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    No worries, dude. More importantly - good answers. (oh man I should make more blurb requests do this.) Ok, here's a blurb suggestion based on your answers (and original blurb).


    An unexpected scholarship to the elite Hinan Academy changes Ethan Russel's life forever. Born poor, he siezes the chance to not only lift the burden of his support from his mother's shoulders, but to take a shot a the prosperous future awaiting graduates from the mysterious school. It could change all their lives in the long run. That is, if he can survive.

    The small California coastal town around the school has...problems. Not normal small town problems either, but "strange creatures in the night" and "rumors of people vanishing" kind of problems. Ethan is no strapping hero, but the secrets lurking below don't care and they are coming for him. Starting with a man in black armor abducting Ethan's roommate's brother.

    As the darkness below marks it's victims, Ethan must brave monsters, the man in black, and his own anger if he wants to chase his new future.

    Ok, so that's not entirely my best work, I'll admit. It just took a lot of finagling to find an evocative pattern so I want to post it for review rather than spend a ton of time fixing its prose (like the weird backward emphasis in the first sentence or the perhaps too-comedic opening of the second paragraph). BUT, I think there's some good stuff in here thanks to the information you gave. I really like this approach ^_^ It's the same target as for Austin's blurb

    But wait, there's more...perhaps unwanted more though... I can't help but add editorial. Working with this blurb is very challenging for two reasons that might be story issues (or might just be me making assumptions based on too little information.)
    1. Ethan's positioning relative to the central conflict is remote. It's his roommate's brother that's kidnapped (ostensibly the inciting incident). The dungeon isn't coming for Ethan nor is it standing between him and his goals directly/immediately. If Ethan was a less good person, could he just ignore the call to action and take a pass on most of the first book while the roommate goes off to do the job of main character?
    2. Ethan's want is reactive/passive to me and, as you can see, I've taken some hopeful liberties in the blurb in an attempt to reframe it as an active desire with stronger stakes that can both be threatened by the central conflict and which might be strong enough to propel him into risking the goals he has going into the plot.
    None of these are book-destroying issues, of course, as they can be solved with execution. So maybe the text is fine but the information I'm working with looks worrisome. If the later is the case, let's bring up why these aren't problems as those reasons are the structural underpinnings which need to go into the blurb (the all critical 'what' that propels Ethan into a freaking youkai dungeon).

    What do you think David?




     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  6. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 8 (Thug) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Still too much plot. I dont want to know someone gets abducted in the blurb. By all means "Who is the man in black?", but not in a plot sense.
     
  7. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 6 (Footpad) Citizen

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    Thank you! I made a few changes. What do you think of this?

    Seventeen-year-old Jin enjoys a peaceful life… until Kaji School descends upon his village.
    The tragedy awakens his necromancer powers leading him to kill all soldiers on sight.
    After, he vows to avenge his loved ones’ deaths and to make sure that it never happens again, to him or to anyone.

    A path of cultivation, family secrets, and a chance for justice lay ahead. 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.
    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 dark chi will finally find his true destiny and solidify his place in the universe.
     
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  8. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 8 (Thug) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This is all plot.

    None of this is relevant. Details to be found out as you read the book. I don't want to be told they are formidable. I want you to show me in the reading they are formidable and let me make that judgment myself as I read.

    This is better, but it still reads like narrative. Rewrite it to ENTICE the reader, not tell them where the book goes.

    The blurb is not narrative. It's seduction. You need to get them to open the book, without actually telling them anything in it. Or as little as possible.

    Keep trying. :)
     
  9. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    It sounds dramatic, so I like it.

    IMO the only work to do from here is to polish the prose. The flow has this staccato feeling right now. (Statement. Statement. Statement.) TBH, that's likely my fault as my prose always feels this way until I edit it and I've probably infected you with that problem on this blurb. ^_^;;

    Edit: I should have read Hunter's input first. See next post.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  10. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I don't want to admit you're right, but I don't feel like you're wrong either. To my credit, there are many well-rated (hundreds of reviews, 4.2 stars or better) litrpgs with plot in their blurbs. Also, while not litrpg, the blurb for Harry Potter spells out the inciting incident.

    All that said, lemme try cutting down on plot and concentrating down to the hooks more,

    All that lays ahead for Jin is path of dark cultivation, family secrets, and a chance for revenge against those who destroyed his life.

    But battling his way through demonic beasts, immortal men, and a clandestine martial arts underworld will take more than just will or pushing beyond his limits. He'll need to reach for the previously unfathomable reality awaiting him.

    If he fails, all will be lost, but should he succeed, the wielder of dark chi might finally find his true destiny.
    Some deletions, some tuning. How's this feel now?

    (I'm sorry @Austin Andrews , I'm just blatantly using your blurb for the learning process now.)
     
  11. HunterLegacyUniverse

    HunterLegacyUniverse Level 8 (Thug) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Much better. Personally I'd make the last sentence into a question the reader has to answer themselves.

    If he fails, all be lost. But will success lead him to his true destiny? (wielder of the blah blah is giving too much away still.)

    Then I close off after the question with a statement which ends with the book's name. No idea if yours lets you though.
     
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  12. David M Zahn

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

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    I definitely like what you've done, but I do have worries about including the roommates brother getting abducted because that happens in chapter 10 and is a bit of a spoiler to the plot. I will note on #1. below that the dungeon won't just leave Ethan alone, he tries to ignore it early on and it ends up sending creatures after him who attack him and those who are near him at the time so he's kind of forced into it against his will.
     
  13. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 6 (Footpad) Citizen

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    No problem, that actually sounds even better
     
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  14. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Thanks. That's fair enough. One more go at this,

    Born poor, Ethan's life is upended by an unexpected scholarship to the elite Hinan Academy. A prosperous future awaits graduates from the mysterious school, and perhaps Ethan too-- if he can survive.

    But the small California coastal town around the school has...problems. Not normal small town problems either, but "strange creatures in the night" and "rumors of people vanishing" kind of problems. Ethan is no strapping hero, but the secrets lurking below don't care and they are coming for him.

    As the darkness below marks it's victims, Ethan must brave monsters, the man in black armor, and his own anger if he wants to chase his new future.​

    Maybe that's better? I'm still having a tough time with it. I really really feel that the magical combat hook needs to be mentioned unless you have something on your cover which clearly shows it. Otherwise, you will be jarring readers who come in and not getting the readers who like that stuff.
     
  15. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 6 (Footpad) Citizen

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    Hi everyone. Thanks for all the help.
    I made a few changes. The book is called Awakening (The Necromancer's Revenge book 1). I added the part about the blood moon because the cover will have a red moon on the background.

    Seventeen-year-old Jin enjoys a peaceful life until Kaji School descends upon his village.
    All that lays ahead for him is now a path of demonic cultivation, family secrets, and a chance for revenge against those who destroyed his life.

    But battling his way through demonic beasts, immortal men, a clandestine martial arts underworld and a blood moon myth will take more than just will or pushing beyond his limits. He'll need to reach for the previously unfathomable reality awaiting him.

    If he fails, all will be lost. But will success really lead him to his true destiny? Will the wielder of the necromancer powers achieve what he is looking for?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  16. Sataris22

    Sataris22 Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Hey Austin! Fresh eyes here, so hopefully this is helpful (and apologies if any of this ends up redundant)! Most of my experience with this kind of stuff comes from querying, so take this all with an enormous grain of salt.

    I hope that helps! It sounds like an awesome story (I'm definitely a sucker for a revenge tale) and it reminds me a little bit of Prince of Thorns, which is one of my favorite books/trilogies. Let me know if you have any questions or if any of the above is unclear!
     
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  17. Austin Andrews

    Austin Andrews Level 6 (Footpad) Citizen

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    Thank you! I didn't add the burning the village to the ground because I think using the word "fire" is already enough.
    Jin he's also not a fan of killing. He knows the soldiers are just following order and starts by wanting to have a kind of "peaceful" revenge. But every time he uses his black chi he gets a little further and starts losing empathy.
    What do you think of this then?

    Seventeen-year-old Jin enjoyed a peaceful life until Kaji School - the wielders of the fire chi - descended upon his village.
    All that lays ahead of him is now a path of demonic cultivation, family secrets, and a chance for revenge against those who destroyed his life.

    But battling his way through demonic beasts, immortal men, a clandestine martial arts underworld and a blood moon myth will take more than just will or pushing beyond his limits. Every time he kills or raises a dead body the more apathetic he becomes, and Yin - the death being within him - is lurking and waiting for the right moment to sweep in and take over his revenge.

    If he fails his soul will forever be corrupted and it will become impossible for him to ever reincarnate.
    Will the necromancer really achieve the revenge he's looking for? Will success lead him to his true destiny?
     
  18. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Getting better, though IMO any time you have to use -- in prose of any kind there's probably a better way to structure the sentence. There's also a bunch of words I think can be cut to make it have more punch. Going by @Austin Andrews 's advice, lemme suggest some adjustments. (cutting terms and proper nouns, reducing redundancy, twisting passive statements to active ones, etc...)

    Like,

    Seventeen-year-old Jin enjoyed a peaceful life until the wielders of the fire chi descended upon his village.
    All that lays ahead of him now is a path of demonic cultivation, family secrets, and a chance for revenge against those who destroyed his life.

    But battling his way through monsters, immortals, a martial arts underworld, and a blood moon* myth will take more than just will or pushing beyond his limits. Every time he touches death his emotions die a bit more, and the dark being within him is waiting for the moment when it can take over his revenge.

    If he fails his soul will be too corrupted for him to ever reincarnate. Will the necromancer really achieve the revenge he's looking for? Will success lead him to his true destiny?​

    *There are too many things here. You need to cut at least one.

    I feel like the last line is still kinda clunky though. Probably because there are too many factors going on in the blurb. You have a revenge plot, a dark-being-taking-over problem, a growing apathy problem, a corruption of the soul problem, and a true destiny problem. I'm sure they're all interconnected in the story but that's super-hard to do in a blurb. It would be best to winnow out some of these in order to draw a clearer line for the protagonist's story (as seen in the blurb.)
     
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  19. Sataris22

    Sataris22 Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Good advice above. I don't personally have any issue with em dashes in prose, but I completely agree that if you're using them in something like a blurb, you should ask yourself why/whether or not it's worth it/if you can do without them. I'd also argue that if you need them just to keep a proper noun in there, you probably want to cut the proper noun.

    There are a couple reasons you might consider keeping the nouns (for example, I imagine that you're trying to keep "Kaji School" in there to get at the spirit/mythos of the book) but I do think it would be worth trying to see how simple you can make everything. At the same time though, "wielders of the fire chi" doesn't actually tell us anything specific; having not read the book, I'm not sure if these are fire mages, or a militaristic group, or a rogue school of ninjas, etc. I do think it's better than Kaji School in terms of the blurb, as its easier to get a sense of what it is they do. Stuff like this is really hard, honestly; it's pretty much impossible to see your work in the way that other people do.

    So maybe distill the blurb down to its base parts as Travis said and add on from there? If I were to do a quick outline of what seems to be your blurb, it would read:

    1. Jin enjoys a peaceful life until a group of fire mages attacks his town.
    2. Now the prospect of revenge is the only thing keeping him going.
    3. But many supernatural forces stand in his way.
    4. If he wants revenge, he'll have to make a pact with an evil spirit.
    5. And the spirit is intent on claiming Jin's body as its own.

    That seems like the central conflict, and it's a compelling one that's easily understood at first glance (thought obviously you'd have to tweak that quite a bit to represent the actual story).

    I wouldn't worry too much about trying to get EVERYTHING about Jin into the blurb, either; the peaceful revenge aspect for example sounds awesome, but it's going to be really hard to concisely justify his only motivator being revenge, but also that he understands the soldiers were just taking orders, and that he doesn't want to kill them (because the last clarification in particular makes it seem like he doesn't really want revenge, or at least revenge in the common sense of the word).

    Seems to me that it would be better to hook the reader with Jin's plight, then have them discover just how multifaceted his plans for revenge are (and how the death spirit affects/warps those plans) when you've got the space to really dig into them. Hope that helps!
     
  20. 4u2EatGrass

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

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    Hello Everyone,
    I could use eyes on this if anyone is willing. this is for ruins of Majesta 2. it's a YA series. Please go hard. i can take it. i swear!

    [Edited]

    Mayah along with Grax and Margaret, better known as, The Royal Death Claws, have just entered the prize dungeon they won in the paladins' tournament. Now they just have to survive in the bowels of a sprawling and massive underground world filled with dangers around every corner and under every leaf. There’s just one tiny problem.

    Our tiny heroine, Pretty Princess Cuddle Fluff, is stuck in an expansive VR game world. It isn’t half bad until Grax and Margaret log out and she gets reminded that her life is on the line. Or that a malicious AI is searching for her in the game. And with her immersive pod under the control of a spy drone and no one knows how to get her free.

    If she dies in Majesta does she die in the real world? Everyone is racing to save her, because in the dungeon her chances of dying have just risen significantly.

    Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, Mayah’s brother Mo has entered the game to stand by her side. Since she’s off defeating a dungeon, he’s passing the time trying to level up. While looking for quests and XP to be strong enough to protect her, He runs into some unsavory characters, gets tied up in a basement, and roped into their service. What started off as a simple walk has ended up turning into a fetch quest that might cost him an arm and a leg.

    This novel contains big hammers, cats, enchanting, snark, grenades, necromancy, leveling, fetch quests, beeps and boops, misunderstandings of the deadliest kind, olfactory and gustatory offenses, grandmothers, Evil sentient computer viruses, truces, crafting, duels, getting gear, friendship, Happiness and sweet, sweet XP.

    Safe for the kids. Great for the adults.

    This book Is: GameLit / LitRPG and contains very visible RPG, video game mechanics, and fights that are integral to the story. No blood or cursing, though. Style: serial slice of life.

    how does that sound?
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019




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