Blurb Critique Thread

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

  1. Manx

    Manx Level 2 (Initiate) Citizen

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    James Wulf artisan, weapons smith, wood sprite true Bard and political prisoner. He sits in a prison of the mind, waiting to learn his fate. The online world of Arabella descends in to madness and fear as players turned to undead spread across the land. Player’s risk their lives a bid to find out why the world has changed and free players trapped, players whose time is measured in days.

    All while the one man with a possible answer watches as rats pass him by.
     
  2. Thomas Davidsmeier

    Thomas Davidsmeier Level 9 (Burgler) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Here's a new blurb... I await feedback...

    "Christopher McKnight and Jeremy Rogers have been friends since they were little. As they both grew up, life hit them with tragedies and struggles. Chris has endured and tries to keep his head and heart up. Jeremy has given in and sunk into darkness. Now, when Jeremy decides to lash out at the world that has brought him so much pain and Chris tries to stop him, powerful forces take notice.

    As Jeremy lashes out at a cafeteria full of his classmates and Christopher tries to stop him, divine and demonic forces appear and intercede. Chris, Jeremy, and some of their friends are all drawn into a new world, the Divided Lands.

    The Divided Lands have been created by a team of souls from both Heaven and Hell. Tolkien was Heaven's chief contributor and Gygax was the head of Hell's cohort. Rumors have it that Sid Meier was consulted by the Heavenly side through dreams and visions. Together these "designers" have created a worldgame that is used to settle disputes and resolve conflicts from the real world.

    The worldgame is a combination of Dungeons and Dragons and Civilization. Six lands separated by rugged, impassable mountains make up the home bases of the six player characters from our world. In the center of these lands, a resource rich, heavily guarded arena land waits for the boldest and best.

    Who will get there first?

    Which side will eliminate all three of their opponents at the same time and win?

    Will Jeremy Rogers go back to the real world to finish his tragic attack on their school, or can Christopher McKnight stop him?"
     
  3. WaywardDreaming

    WaywardDreaming Level 6 (Footpad) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    So it sounds like you have a pretty big idea here, with interesting concepts like players becoming undead and all, but as it is this kind of difficult to follow. I'm also not sure it's a blurb, technically; it's formatted more like a synopsis. (No stones thrown; I've been struggling with the same issue. It's so much easier to see it from the outside, right?)

    But for starters, you're having a lot of basic grammar issues that are going to spell issues later down the line. That first sentence would be better read as "James Wulf: artisan, weapons smith, wood sprite, true Bard and political prisoner."

    Simply changing it won't really help, though, as those are a lot of adjectives with no contextual meaning for the casual reader. Why is James a political prisoner? Is he trapped in a game world, or trapped within a spell within a game world? Or is he not in the game world at all?

    Perhaps lead with something a little more telling for the opening hook of the series, such as "James Wulf could stop the invading horde of undead player characters if only he weren't frozen in his cell." From there, you might tell us a little about Arabella and what's going on with said players, and why or how James intends to proceed with his initial plan. You don't want to give away the whole book's plot, of course, but right now you're holding your cards a little too close to the chest.

    A good rule of thumb for blurbs is that they ought to be roughly four, short paragraphs with a hook at the end to tell readers why they want to find out what happens. In this case, I do like your last sentence, it's just a little too vague. Specifically, I'm only assuming that this "one man" is James, when it could be an intentional red herring--but a red herring isn't really something you want in a blurb.
     
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  4. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This is interesting. Normally, I'd try to guide you towards the more storied blurb formula of "here's a guy doing his thing until stuff happens and then OMG. Now he must take risks and pay a price". I am not sure if that would be doing you a service here though. Your blurb has a punchy style all its own that I think is pretty cool. It mostly works.

    I say mostly because you need to carry the main character's line through the whole blurb. Who is the main character of the book? Based on right now, I would say "the players" are as they are talked about more and they are active whereas James Wulf is passive. The whole blurb should to stay as focused as possible on the protagonist's place in the story and should revolve around where he is, what he's doing, why that's cool, and why we should care [about him and his story.]

    Last point - The protagonist has too many descriptors. Pick the most hooky one or two (ex: James Wulf is a true bard and a political prisoner) and stick with those. Blurb readers just aren't going to absorb as many as you have and the whole list loses its impact.
     
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  5. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I don't want to rain on your parade, but I am having trouble critiquing the blurb b/c I can't get over all the celebrity and big IP name drops. I don't mind story-wise, but I am concerned that you will get sued. Feels like either a defamation issue (Gygax working for hell) or a violation of the right of publicity.

    Hopefully, I'm just being alarmist and overreactive. Still, you should read up on the legal soundness of your novel before proceeding. Here's a link with a good explanation of the dangers and lots of more heavy-weight resources. Using Real People, Places, And Corporations In Your Fiction – How Real Can You Get And Not Be Sued? - Sidebar Saturdays
     
  6. Thomas Davidsmeier

    Thomas Davidsmeier Level 9 (Burgler) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Here's how a couple of marketing books I've read would say to write that blurb, Paul:

    She’s one of a few who can remember it’s only a game…

    Game screens, stats, and combat notifications pacify others. Scout is different. She remembers growing up on a planet called Earth. There's more going on in their Shelter than anyone else realizes, and Scout wants answers.

    But, big worries are not the only kind Scout and her best friend Missy have. They have to keep body and soul together. So, Scout takes matters into her own hands. Along the way, she meets powerful people. Some become friends, and others enemies. Should she stay with the man who makes her feel safe no matter the consequences?

    Then, everything in her world suddenly changes. A beacon to another outpost of humanity has been found. Will it lead to answers about the game, about Scout's memories, about the Great Freeze? Or, will chasing this chance to know the truth cost her everything she holds dear?

    [Insert last description of book that tells them exactly what genre and type of book their getting. Maybe an editorial review or some such.]
     
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  7. Thomas Davidsmeier

    Thomas Davidsmeier Level 9 (Burgler) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Oooo. Thanks for the warning because I was misremembering something I read about Gary Gygax. I double checked and found out I was wrong-wrong-McWrongywrong. Thanks!

    I thought I had read something that said that Gygax was a firm athiest, but no! He was a Jehovah's Witness. So, while that's a gray area in my personal beliefs, I ain't gonna pass judgement on him.

    By the way, it's okay to use dead people in fiction because you can't defame the dead. The Right to Publicity would not be violated as long as you didn't use them as part of the advertising materials. So, I'll cut those mentions out of the blurb FOSHO.
     
  8. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Just so long as you look before you leap. I remember your divided lands story from another thread, so I'm looking forward to seeing the revised blurb. ^_^
     
  9. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Five stars for that blurb!

    Soooo *sidles up* what marketing books gave you these mad skills? Care to drop some links on us?
     
  10. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 7 (Cutpurse) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Thank you. I made a few edits. What do you think?

    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 ends up having trouble with a few of his classmates, participating in a fighting tournament and having to help Neil, his roommate, gaining confidence.
    Once there, it isn't long before the academy is under attack by the mysterious Reapers who are looking for two very special students and a letter that might change the world as they know it.

    Alec and five classmates are chosen to undertake a dangerous journey to seek help. Along the way through, they uncover the true nature of the chips.
    What he discovers may save or doom them all.
     
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  11. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    That feels better to me, but you shouldn't tell the customer many specifics of the story in the blurb. You do all this work to create enough curiousity that they will click on your sample.
     
  12. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 7 (Cutpurse) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Should I change the second part then?
     
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  13. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Sorry to be terse, I was posting from my phone while my wife shopped.

    "He was hoping to survive first term without lighting too many things on fire but ends up having trouble with a few of his classmates, participating in a fighting tournament and having to help Neil, his roommate, gaining confidence. "

    This section here is what I was referring to. It's too specific. I feel like I know the book already which scratches my itch to read more. Needs more hinting and less telling.
     
  14. Thomas Davidsmeier

    Thomas Davidsmeier Level 9 (Burgler) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Make A Killing On Kindle 2018 https://www.amazon.com/Make-Killing-Kindle-2018/dp/0997772468

    I disliked the author's tone and crass jokes, but he gave extremely solid advice and examples of how to do stuff.
     
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  15. Paul Bellow

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

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  16. Paul Bellow

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

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    Thanks again @Thomas Davidsmeier . That's a useful book. I used it for a template for the first Tower of Gates Omnibus edition. Any thoughts? First draft...

    Trapped in an RPG... or a virtual prison?

    When Eric and friends secretly log onto the new Tower of Gates VRMMORPG against his father's wishes, they spawn separately throughout the game. Eric finds Sarah easily enough, but they can't find Josh, their remaining party member.

    Unable to escape or even pause the game, Eric and Sarah work together to find Josh. They meet a colorful cast of characters along the way, including a priest named Benji. Unsure what happens when you die, they vow to be careful with who they trust.

    While Benji and others they meet seem harmless enough, a strange mage in black vows to kill them. Can they stay alive and complete the first few levels of the Tower of Gates? Or will they suffer the fate of others who have died inside the game?
     
  17. Andre Pisco

    Andre Pisco Level 7 (Cutpurse) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Maybe I could change it to

    "He was hoping to survive first term without lighting too many things on fire but ends up having trouble more trouble than he thought he would in such peaceful place"

    What do you think?
     
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  18. Paul Bellow

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

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    Another draft... I think it's closer?


    Snow Punk: Chronicles of the Core Book 1

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

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


    After months of no answers, Scout worries she might never find the truth about her dire situation. She takes her future into her own hands and makes moves in the game to secure a better life for herself and Missy. With no way out, she has to make the best of a bad situation. Or so she thinks.

    While the game screens, stats, and combat notifications are normal to most citizens, Scout remembers the truth. They’re all trapped in a simulation. Everything had changed in a flash, but most people didn’t remember anything before the Great Freeze. That lack of memory led to 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. Will the mysterious, non-functioning beacon lead to answers or only more heartache? People who amassed power in the game try to stop her, but Scout fights back, struggling for a chance.

    Will she get answers to all her questions?
     
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  19. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Yeah! That's a lot closer IMHO.

    The second line ("Explore the costs...") intrigues me. On one hand, it feels out of the flow. On the other hand, it's really catchy and I really like how it feels as a tagline. If it were me, I'd keep that line on the cool factor alone. I wouldn't move it either cause it's already in the best spot.

    I do think that you are too abstract in some places and actually need more specificity (that's not the usual problem).

    For example, this section,
    "After months of no answers, Scout worries she might never find the truth about her dire situation. She takes her future into her own hands and makes moves in the game to secure a better life for herself and Missy. With no way out, she has to make the best of a bad situation. Or so she thinks."​

    It says a lot but doesn't actually tell us anything we can use to imagine what's going on. Obviously, you don't want to tell the story, we do need some info. Oh, in other words... there are no hooks. Yeah, that's the word I was looking for. That section has no hooks so it feels generic. Spice it up with some of your book's unique cool factors. ^_^
     
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  20. Paul Bellow

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

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    Thanks! Still tinkering. Heh.

    --------------------------------------

    Snow Punk: Chronicles of the Core Book 1

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

    After months of no answers, Scout worries she might never find the truth about her dire situation. While the game screens, stats, and combat notifications are normal to most citizens, Scout remembers the truth. Everyone is trapped in a simulation: a kill or be killed world of survival.

    Taking her future into her own hands, she forges ahead in the game to secure a better life for herself and those she protects. With no apparent way out, she has to make the best of a bad situation. Or so she thinks.

    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…
     
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