What say you of this blurb?

BDFiala

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#1
Hi guys! I'm mostly lurking quietly on this forum so you probably don't know me, but I decided to ask for your opinion on this blurb I created. I'm working on a grimdark fantasy series and this would be a blurb for book 1. I'd be glad if you read it and told me how does it sound to you? Is it well written in your opinion and if not, why not? Also, does it make you wanna read the first paragraph, first page or the whole book? Or perhaps, you want to stay clear from the novel it describes? I apologize in advance for probable grammar mistakes...

***

Thousand years after the colonization the so called Golden times when settlers from Earth came to Volterra are long gone. Society has regressed back to medieval technology and is divided between a few large kingdoms and federations. Different forms of shamanism, future and mind reading, as well as spirit summoning are what guides everyday Volterrans who are divided between two major religions, while old science that brought men to the planet is long forgotten. A small island community created and governed by aged war veterans of the legendary 13th legion of the Alexandrian Federation, shunned for its brutality and feared because of its members sinister supernatural abilities, is on its feet after a premonition of a local future feeler warns them of a threat from an unknown enemy that is building an army somewhere in the eastern provinces. A local girl is killed, while another goes missing and the island’s Great Council conveys to decide on how to respond to those two threats.

Winston Grimmson, one of the most respected and feared islanders and a member of a close-knit group of commanders who run the island is determined to save the community at all cost. He will stop at nothing while trying to prepare for the war and keep the society he struggled to build safe. He offers the islanders a solution that causes even more commotion. Gustavo, his suicidal son, decides to join the kidnapped girl’s parents on their travel east to the Three Kingdoms where an annual Slave Fair is being held and where they hope to find their daughter. Hugo, Winston’s only grandson and Gustavo’s son is sent west to the mainland to seek help from the Alexandrian Federation to which the island formally belongs to. Meanwhile, a large group of Alexandrian soldiers arrives on the island with unclear motives which stirs up old resentments and makes the atmosphere on the island even more tense.

The end of the summer is near and there is little time before the Slave Fair starts, while at the same time news keeps coming that a large force is gathering on the eastern borders of the Three Kingdoms and the islanders need to hurry up and come up with a decision what to do. Winston, Gustavo, Hugo and others face challenges that will shape the future of their community. Will they find the missing girl and what will they do to defend the island? Read Before the War, the first part of a new gritty epic fantasy series.

 

BAYLOR

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#2
You might want to say Technology and science have sunk to the levels of a feudal state and much of history has been erased in that downward descent . Superstition , magic ancient shamanism become the underpinning of this reduced level quasitech/medival world.
 
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BDFiala

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#4
You might want to say Technology and history have sunk to the levels of a feudal state and much of history has been erased in that downward descent . Superstition , magic ancient shamanism become the underpinning of this reduced level quasitech/medival world.
Sounds good, thanks!
 

Brian G Turner

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#5
IMO you need to be more punchy for a blurb - the first paragraph mainly explains the setting and you don't really need much of this.

The second paragraph also lacks focus - you talk about Winston, his son, and his grandson, and I struggle to keep up with who I'm supposed to be following in this, or who you're describing.

For a blurb you really need to keep things as simple as possible. It will always seem too simple for you as a writer, but that's not the point - it's a simplified overview for the benefit of a potential reader who knows nothing about your story, and needs you to persuade them.
 

BDFiala

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#6
Hi. Congratulations on delurking...

Before you go any further I’d suggest cutting it all down so it’s no longer than the first paragraph in entirety.

I’m not an expert tho, so I’m sure some more worldly writers will comment. :)

pH
I suppose I should cut it. I was told that this could be used in a query letter. It feels kind of nice to delurk and make myself a target of critics :)
 

BDFiala

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#7
IMO you need to be more punchy for a blurb - the first paragraph mainly explains the setting and you don't really need much of this.

The second paragraph also lacks focus - you talk about Winston, his son, and his grandson, and I struggle to keep up with who I'm supposed to be following in this, or who you're describing.

For a blurb you really need to keep things as simple as possible. It will always seem too simple for you as a writer, but that's not the point - it's a simplified overview for the benefit of a potential reader who knows nothing about your story, and needs you to persuade them.
So, less words and more focus. Got it!
 

Toby Frost

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#9
I’m assuming that this is the equivalent of the back-of-the-book text.

If so, my personal feeling is that this is too long and too sprawling. I’m sure there are many ways of writing a blurb, but I would be inclined to go with the format of “Say who an important character is, say what his problem is, hint at what he must do to solve it”. This might seem simplistic but the back of the copy of A Game of Thrones I’ve got mentions only Eddard Stark, as if he is the sole point-of-view character. Almost no mention of the setting is made, except to say that the Seven Kingdoms is a dangerous place and a mad boy threatens from overseas (itself a big red herring). I would select the character with the most at stake and whose story carries the strongest emotional punch: the obvious answer would be the father or mother (is there one?) of the missing girl. I agree that the first paragraph is largely scene-setting, some of it very detailed (does it matter which regiment set up the community and what their reputation was?).

To put it crudely (and I don’t mean to do your story a disservice here), it seems to boil down to “There’s a hero in a techno-barbarian culture who is probably quite like a Viking (at least that’s what his name makes me think). His daughter is kidnapped so he gets his allies together to rescue her, while war threatens his community”. That’s what I’d focus on.
 

BDFiala

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#10
I’m assuming that this is the equivalent of the back-of-the-book text.

If so, my personal feeling is that this is too long and too sprawling. I’m sure there are many ways of writing a blurb, but I would be inclined to go with the format of “Say who an important character is, say what his problem is, hint at what he must do to solve it”. This might seem simplistic but the back of the copy of A Game of Thrones I’ve got mentions only Eddard Stark, as if he is the sole point-of-view character. Almost no mention of the setting is made, except to say that the Seven Kingdoms is a dangerous place and a mad boy threatens from overseas (itself a big red herring). I would select the character with the most at stake and whose story carries the strongest emotional punch: the obvious answer would be the father or mother (is there one?) of the missing girl. I agree that the first paragraph is largely scene-setting, some of it very detailed (does it matter which regiment set up the community and what their reputation was?).

To put it crudely (and I don’t mean to do your story a disservice here), it seems to boil down to “There’s a hero in a techno-barbarian culture who is probably quite like a Viking (at least that’s what his name makes me think). His daughter is kidnapped so he gets his allies together to rescue her, while war threatens his community”. That’s what I’d focus on.
Actually, I keep thinking about a number of details that need to be mentioned and I suppose I've put more than I should have, more than one person agrees on that. Also, it's a multiple POV story, so I was not sure if mentioning just one character is ok, but as you say - if Eddard Stark is the only name on the back of GoT... The mother is one of the main cast of characters, so she would be the one to choose for the strongest emotional punch, I suppose. The story, more or less, can be boiled down to that description so I will cut it down to cover those basics. Thanks for the comment!
 

tinkerdan

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#11
Who is the story about-and what is their story.
The first part sounds world builder-y to me and the rest is long and convoluted and, as mentioned, unfocused.

Obviously it is a sprawling tale, however if you could narrow it down to one plot point that makes the story. One character if possible. What would that be?

The rest I'd only try to wedge in with respect to how it impacts that story and only if it seems critical for the reader to know outside of that one character one plot description.

A blurb wants to be appealing and short. It might help if it reflects your style of writing.
Ask yourself if this reflects your style of writing.

Someone recently told me my style of writing needs work. The blurb caught their attention, it's just that my style of writing in the narrative managed to put them off. I think the difference was the blurb was a shorter example of the style (the description of the book was a longer piece and I think that they had some helpful comments about that also).
 

Parson

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#12
I agree with the rest that this is entirely too long. It feels more like an explanation than a blurb. In my opinion it is a glimpse of the center conflict that should comprise the tease. I agree with Phyrebrat that one pithy paragraph should be the target.

Something like: In a land where technology has been forgotten and lost arts have been found a threat has arisen....

Also like Phyrebrat I am no expert here, but I do know what appeals to me.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#13
As a blurb or as part of a query letter it is much too long. Whoever told you it would work as a query might have been thinking of the one page synopsis agents sometimes ask for with a query letter. Then the length is fine, but as others have said it lacks focus. It's also wordy. You can cut it down by taking out unnecessary verbiage like "so-called" and the fact that the boy is Winston's only grandson. Prospective readers won't care about things like that.* They want to know what happens in the story.

Also excess verbiage is the entire final line. If the blurb does its job, if it written in a way that is both compelling and intriguing, prospective readers will by that point already be eager to read it; they will need no invitation to do so.


_____
*Unless there is some reason why readers should care, but then if it is important to the story then we should know what that reason is. I am assuming, considering the way you have introduced Winston, that any significance is not purely or even mainly sentimental. But let us say that Winston has devoted his life to establishing or continuing a dynasty. His son is suicidal (which suggests some mental illness?) and has embarked on what may be a very dangerous journey. Now the best person to send on what might also be a risky journey is his only grandson. If this were the case, this would add a sense of urgency and also apprehension if prospective readers knew of it, and it might then be worth mentioning. But just the fact of being the only grandson, by itself, without additional background that establishes the relationship as some sort of motivating or intensifying factor (for whatever reason), is not useful information in a summary that is already long on backstory and short on action.
 

Joshua Jones

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#14
Not to simply restate what others have said, but I think you need to cut this way back to be effective. To be effective as a promotional blurb, it has to be concise and intriguing. You want to give a vague sense of what the reader should expect without giving away your first chapters' world building.

I think this would be more effective if you brought it down to one paragraph, with maybe one or two sentences at the end to bring in the hook.

Off the cuff and without knowing anything about your work apart from this, I would do something like the following:

"After a millennia on Volterra, human civilization has regressed to swords and sorcery, kingdoms and mysticism. Now, the Grimmson family and the inhabitants of (insert name of island kingdom here) must face threats from treacherous allies, slave traders, and unknown armies. The balance of power is changing at an alarming pace; will Winston, Gustavo, and Hugo Grimmson be swept away in a flood of steel, or will they rise to meet the occasion?

"Read Before the War, first in a new epic fantasy series by (insert name/penname here)."

Then add in two or three review quotes here. While what I have above could surely use some polishing (for example, I HATE the last phrase of the first paragraph, but can't think of anything better off the cuff), and I don't know if it reflects exactly what you are planning to do, it is much more concise, so there is a higher likelihood of a prospective buyer reading it. Typically in marketing that involves text, the shorter something looks, the more likely someone is to engage. Whole different ballgame with the actual length of the novel, but when it comes to adverts, my experience is that the shorter it is, the more golden it becomes, assuming a message is still communicated.

Just my two cents worth, the invoice for which is in the mail ;). You will have to post an excerpt from your work on here!
 

BDFiala

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#15
Who is the story about-and what is their story.
The first part sounds world builder-y to me and the rest is long and convoluted and, as mentioned, unfocused.

Obviously it is a sprawling tale, however if you could narrow it down to one plot point that makes the story. One character if possible. What would that be?

The rest I'd only try to wedge in with respect to how it impacts that story and only if it seems critical for the reader to know outside of that one character one plot description.

A blurb wants to be appealing and short. It might help if it reflects your style of writing.
Ask yourself if this reflects your style of writing.

Someone recently told me my style of writing needs work. The blurb caught their attention, it's just that my style of writing in the narrative managed to put them off. I think the difference was the blurb was a shorter example of the style (the description of the book was a longer piece and I think that they had some helpful comments about that also).
One character, one plot and shorter - got it! I see Winston as the central figure in the story, but the kidnapped girl's mother might be a better choice. I need to think about it.

I agree with the rest that this is entirely too long. It feels more like an explanation than a blurb. In my opinion it is a glimpse of the center conflict that should comprise the tease. I agree with Phyrebrat that one pithy paragraph should be the target.

Something like: In a land where technology has been forgotten and lost arts have been found a threat has arisen....

Also like Phyrebrat I am no expert here, but I do know what appeals to me.
Yes, I realize that this is obviously too long for a blurb. This could be a one page synopsis like Teresa said. I might use this sentence as an opening (in a land where...)

As a blurb or as part of a query letter it is much too long. Whoever told you it would work as a query might have been thinking of the one page synopsis agents sometimes ask for with a query letter. Then the length is fine, but as others have said it lacks focus. It's also wordy. You can cut it down by taking out unnecessary verbiage like "so-called" and the fact that the boy is Winston's only grandson. Prospective readers won't care about things like that.* They want to know what happens in the story.

Also excess verbiage is the entire final line. If the blurb does its job, if it written in a way that is both compelling and intriguing, prospective readers will by that point already be eager to read it; they will need no invitation to do so.


_____
*Unless there is some reason why readers should care, but then if it is important to the story then we should know what that reason is. I am assuming, considering the way you have introduced Winston, that any significance is not purely or even mainly sentimental. But let us say that Winston has devoted his life to establishing or continuing a dynasty. His son is suicidal (which suggests some mental illness?) and has embarked on what may be a very dangerous journey. Now the best person to send on what might also be a risky journey is his only grandson. If this were the case, this would add a sense of urgency and also apprehension if prospective readers knew of it, and it might then be worth mentioning. But just the fact of being the only grandson, by itself, without additional background that establishes the relationship as some sort of motivating or intensifying factor (for whatever reason), is not useful information in a summary that is already long on backstory and short on action.
Cut down on unnecessary words, give it more focus, lose the last line - got it!
I will lose the ''only grandson'' part as it is not something that needs to be emphasized.


Thank you guys for your comments. I find them all very useful. I'll rewrite the blurb and make it shorter and I'll keep the longer version for a synopsis, making sure that I do the recommended changes. Thanks again :)
 

BDFiala

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#16
Not to simply restate what others have said, but I think you need to cut this way back to be effective. To be effective as a promotional blurb, it has to be concise and intriguing. You want to give a vague sense of what the reader should expect without giving away your first chapters' world building.

I think this would be more effective if you brought it down to one paragraph, with maybe one or two sentences at the end to bring in the hook.

Off the cuff and without knowing anything about your work apart from this, I would do something like the following:

"After a millennia on Volterra, human civilization has regressed to swords and sorcery, kingdoms and mysticism. Now, the Grimmson family and the inhabitants of (insert name of island kingdom here) must face threats from treacherous allies, slave traders, and unknown armies. The balance of power is changing at an alarming pace; will Winston, Gustavo, and Hugo Grimmson be swept away in a flood of steel, or will they rise to meet the occasion?

"Read Before the War, first in a new epic fantasy series by (insert name/penname here)."

Then add in two or three review quotes here. While what I have above could surely use some polishing (for example, I HATE the last phrase of the first paragraph, but can't think of anything better off the cuff), and I don't know if it reflects exactly what you are planning to do, it is much more concise, so there is a higher likelihood of a prospective buyer reading it. Typically in marketing that involves text, the shorter something looks, the more likely someone is to engage. Whole different ballgame with the actual length of the novel, but when it comes to adverts, my experience is that the shorter it is, the more golden it becomes, assuming a message is still communicated.

Just my two cents worth, the invoice for which is in the mail ;). You will have to post an excerpt from your work on here!

Hey, I like what you've done with it! I agree that a shorter message has more chance of getting through to the reader. It is actually a rule that can be applied in everyday communication as well. I do have a tendency of using more words than necessary when trying to explain something to someone, so I suppose that is what happened here as well. I will post some excerpt of the work here, but not just yet. Still editing, polishing and so on... As far as invoices are concerned... Well, if you're willing to take the editor role, we can discuss the price over a beer. I'll treat this blurb suggestion as a demonstration of your skills, which is usually free, right? ;)
 

Joshua Jones

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#17
Hey, I like what you've done with it! I agree that a shorter message has more chance of getting through to the reader. It is actually a rule that can be applied in everyday communication as well. I do have a tendency of using more words than necessary when trying to explain something to someone, so I suppose that is what happened here as well. I will post some excerpt of the work here, but not just yet. Still editing, polishing and so on... As far as invoices are concerned... Well, if you're willing to take the editor role, we can discuss the price over a beer. I'll treat this blurb suggestion as a demonstration of your skills, which is usually free, right? ;)
I think it is a common writer malady to use too many words in expression. The only reasons I have developed at all in that regard is that I do outreach for a non-profit (which involves writing adverts on occasion) and participate regularly in the 75 and 300 word challenges on this site (which I commend to anyone who wants to write in any genre, speculative or not).

Not sure I would be the best editor, though, as I have yet to publish anything. However, if you are ever on my side of the Atlantic, I would be happy to sit down and talk the work over with you, and in the meantime, I am more than willing to be a beta reader when you are ready for such creatures, and we will keep the invoices at my non-profit. If you really want to do something in return, I have a chapter excerpt below the fold in this section for which I would love your critique (Damion Fitz Intro v.2) as well as anyone else who would be gracious enough to do so.

But, glad you liked the edit! It isn't copywrited, so feel free to run with it, modify it, and make it your own.
 

BDFiala

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#18
I think it is a common writer malady to use too many words in expression. The only reasons I have developed at all in that regard is that I do outreach for a non-profit (which involves writing adverts on occasion) and participate regularly in the 75 and 300 word challenges on this site (which I commend to anyone who wants to write in any genre, speculative or not).

Not sure I would be the best editor, though, as I have yet to publish anything. However, if you are ever on my side of the Atlantic, I would be happy to sit down and talk the work over with you, and in the meantime, I am more than willing to be a beta reader when you are ready for such creatures, and we will keep the invoices at my non-profit. If you really want to do something in return, I have a chapter excerpt below the fold in this section for which I would love your critique (Damion Fitz Intro v.2) as well as anyone else who would be gracious enough to do so.

But, glad you liked the edit! It isn't copywrited, so feel free to run with it, modify it, and make it your own.
If I ever get across the Atlantic, I'll make sure to let you know. You don't need to be the editor, but we can still get a beer ;) I will be needing beta readers, so I'll screenshot this promise and it'll turn up in your inbox one day!
I'll be glad to take a look at your chapter. Mind you, I'm not a published author either and in no way do I feel I can give an expert critique, but I'll do my best!
 

Joshua Jones

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#19
If I ever get across the Atlantic, I'll make sure to let you know. You don't need to be the editor, but we can still get a beer ;) I will be needing beta readers, so I'll screenshot this promise and it'll turn up in your inbox one day!
I'll be glad to take a look at your chapter. Mind you, I'm not a published author either and in no way do I feel I can give an expert critique, but I'll do my best!
Absolutely! And, while there is immeasurable value in expert critique, of equal value is critique from average readers, so any feedback you can give at either end of the spectrum or somewhere in between is most helpful.

And, for the record, I am flattered that you would consider me for editing! I just don't want my inexperience to be a detriment to your finished work.
 

Biskit

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#20
If you're actually talking blurb for the back of the book, try to trim it down to maybe 150 words, and even then be aware that only about 75 will will appear on Amazon without clicking the 'see more' button. So, you have to get enough of a hook in the first seventy or so words that your potential reader will want to read more blurb, or open the sample and get stuck in.
 

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