Blurb for Critique

Brian G Turner

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#1
Jaigar expected to wake up on a colony starship to build a new world.

Instead he finds himself trapped in a compartment with five other people.

They have no food, no water, no means to survive.

Somehow they must find a way to escape, and take control of the ship.

Doing so will force them to face bigger dangers.

But each survivor keeps a secret which could prove even more deadly.
 

yorelm

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#3
I read "deadly" more in the sense of "dire" rather than literally. I can't say I'm any good at critiquing blurbs, but I will say I would be intrigued enough to flip thru a few pages.
 

CTRandall

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#4
I agree with Jo that it's too vague. Dealing with no food and water and taking over the ship sound like two separate goals. If food/water is only an initial goal, maybe leave it out of the blurb. Otherwise make the connection between the two goals clearer.

Also, you start with a focus on Jaigar but shift to all five captives. For the blurb, maybe stick wth one or the other.
 

Plucky Novice

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#5
I was fine with it up to the last two lines which felt a little inelegant. You could try something like:

"... take control of the ship but greater dangers lie ahead. None more so than the secrets they are keeping from each other."

I'm not particularly happy with that either but maybe it'll stimulate some alternate wording.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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#6
Is this something that's been written or is this a pitch?

Sounds a bit familiar, recent Tv series where a group of mercenaries wake up with no memory of who they are.

Also a tinsey weeny Blakes Seven ish.

Also the recent film where they end up not going back into stasis because there aren't enough pods for everyone to go back, but live on the ship till they get to the new planet.
 

Brian G Turner

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#7
(2) Jaigar expected to wake up on a colony starship to build a new world.

Instead he finds himself trapped in a compartment with five other people.

They have no food, no water, no means to survive.

Somehow he must find a way to get out to the rest of the ship.

But that will leave him facing bigger and more immediate dangers.

Especially when each survivor keeps a secret which could prove just as deadly to him.



Okay, so I've amended it to the above, but the last couple of lines still don't feel right.

This is one I made earlier, but am still not sure:

(3)

Jaigar expected to wake from cryogenic sleep to begin building a new world.

Instead, he's one of a handful of survivors on board an abandoned colony ship.

They have no food or water, and only emergency power.

Somehow he must find a way to take control of their situation.

But a damaged starship is a dangerous place to be trapped.

Especially when each survivor holds a deadly secret.
 

HareBrain

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#8
The general premise sounds good, though I personally don't like the one-line paragraphs -- it feels like I've had a six-shooter loaded with bullet points emptied into me.

I also think there's a couple of slight seeming contradictions that tripped me up:

Jaigar expected to wake up on a colony starship to build a new world.

Instead he finds himself trapped in a compartment with five other people.
Since he has in fact woken on a colony starship, the first part of his expectation has been fulfilled, so I'm not sure the "instead" really works. Either that, or it could lead to the understanding that the compartment isn't necessarily on the same ship, which might be confusing.

Somehow he must find a way to get out to the rest of the ship.

But that will leave him facing bigger and more immediate dangers.

Especially when each survivor keeps a secret which could prove just as deadly to him.
Obviously this might be true in the story, but the fact that he faces bigger and more immediate dangers because of the other survivors, after he leaves the place where he's with them, feels contradictory.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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#9
Usual stuff. see the comments in the quote.

(2) Jaigar expected to wake up on a the colony starship to build a new world. (the because I aassume it's where he went to sleep. build mostly implied by the colony ship aspects)

Instead(presumably it is the same ship), but he finds himself trapped in a compartment with five other people.

They have no food, no water, no means to survive.

Somehow he must find a way to get out to the rest of the ship. (get out implied)

But that will leave him facing new and bigger and more immediate dangers. (can dangers he will face when he gets out, be MORE immediate given it's some time away)

Especially when each survivor keeps a secret which could prove just as deadly to him. (but they aren't the more immediate ones so they don't deserve the especially tag)

Rats - OK but it might convince you you were right to edit :)

Okay, so I've amended it to the above, but the last couple of lines still don't feel right.

This is one I made earlier, but am still not sure:

(3)

Jaigar expected to wake from cryogenic sleep to begin building a new world.

Instead, he's one of a handful of survivors on board an abandoned colony ship.

They have no food or water, and only emergency power.

Somehow he (they) must find a way to take control of their situation.

But a damaged starship is a dangerous place to be trapped.

Especially when each survivor holds a deadly secret.
The last one is much better. As you see I found lttle to comment about. The they, rather than he, because if they are all awake they even if they decide to just sit and watch it's still a group effort.

This sums up the situation nicely, more names could be introduced, but not really needed at this time.
 

tinkerdan

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#10
For some reason they all sound like you are doing bullet points.
I'd be more inclined to put it down.
That's just because I favor having a connecting set of thoughts that sort of do the same thing the beginning of a story is meant to do.


Jaigar entered cryogenic sleep with dreams of building a new world.

When he and a handful of survivors wake to find themselves aboard an abandoned colony ship with no food or water, and only emergency power, he knows he needs to find a way to control the situation.

A damaged starship is a dangerous place to be trapped without accounting for the deadly secrets held by each survivor.

For Jaiger the end of cryo-sleep is a horrible nightmare.

I could be all wet with this.
But once again that's more of what I look for when I'm looking at books
 

The Judge

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#11
Version 2 is better than the original but for me it's still lacking:
(2) Jaigar expected to wake up on a colony starship to build a new world. [the construction of this line isn't right -- he's not expecting to wake up to build a new world, nor is he building the new world on the starship, so you really need something like "... starship which is en route to a new world" but that's far too wordy and not grabby enough; "... starship, ready to build..." might work]

Instead he finds himself trapped in a compartment with five other people. [at first read it's not clear he's still on the starship with that "instead" and a compartment might be anywhere, not necessarily aboard ship]

They have no food, no water, no means to survive. [I'm not sure what "means to survive" entails, when without water they're dead anyway]

Somehow he must find a way to get out to the rest of the ship. [since that's pretty much implied by his predicament I'm not sure it adds enough to justify its place. And why just him?]

But that will leave him facing bigger and more immediate dangers. [I'd have thought no food and water would be far more immediate than anything which comes later]

Especially when each survivor keeps a secret which could prove just as deadly to him.
I think the third iteration is the best of the three, but for me it's still a bit waffly and vague.

(3)
Jaigar expected to wake from cryogenic sleep to begin building a new world.

Instead, he's one of a handful of survivors on board an abandoned colony ship.

They have no food or water, and only emergency power. [I'm confused. From version #2, I thought they had no food and water in the compartment but were able to find some in the rest of the ship. This implies there's none to be found anywhere. If that's the case, how is anything worse than that?]

Somehow he must find a way to take control of their situation. [short of deciding to kill someone and eat him, can one take control of being without food and water? Surely either you find some, or not -- and finding isn't taking control. And why only him again?]

But a damaged starship is a dangerous place to be trapped.

Especially when each survivor holds a deadly secret.
I agree with HB that the six sentences in discrete paragraphs is off-putting, and I'd suggest amalgamating them.

I'm no good at blurbs, but I'd suggest something along these lines:

Jaigar expected to wake when the colony ship reached the new world. Instead he's trapped in the cryochamber with five strangers, and with no food or water they have only days to live.​
To escape will take all his nerve and skill. But an abandoned, damaged starship is a dangerous place, especially when each survivor carries a secret which could prove just as deadly for him.​

Hope that's of some help.
 

The Big Peat

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#12
I like The Judge's redraft.

But anything that gives it more brio/drama/colour/emotion/life is good in my book. Right now it feels more like a clinical summation of the book's main points than a catchy account and example of your writing.
 

Dan Jones

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#13
It feels all rather stilted and more like a list of ingredients rather than a finished dish, but I think The Judge's reworking is getting there. I think that the mention of both the lack of food and water, and the deadliness of the secrets, is something of a tautology, and without knowing more about the book I'm not sure what to do about that.

I'd also add Jaigar's surname (if it's known).

Jaigar [surname] is part of the crew of [insert ship name here], a colony starship bound for the New World. But when he wakes from cryosleep, he's trapped inside the cryochamber. And the people surrounding him are not his crew.

Jaigar faces a nerve-shredding race against time to escape and regain control of [ship's name]. Yet as the strangers accompanying him reveal a series of deadly secrets, a terrible question confronts Jaigar; are these strangers trying to help him, or hinder him?

~

That last sentence is an example of what I mean by trying to solve the tautology without knowing more about the book. Those last ten words could be changed to whatever's needed to reveal the problem, or the central mystery.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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#14
Jumpping in on the debate about last names.

I wouldn't unless he's likely to be called by it, say from a superior.

To me last names (Or multiple names) distance the character from the reader.

If the last name will never be heard again what's the point?
 
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Brian G Turner

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#15
Okay, I'm coming up with this so far:


Jaigar expected to wake up to build a new world. Instead, he's one of a handful of survivors on board an abandoned colony ship.

They have no food, no water, and only emergency power. Jaigar must somehow find a way to take control of their situation to help the others.

But a damaged starship is a dangerous place to be trapped. Especially when each survivor keeps a secret that could help Jaigar - or kill him.


Better, or worse? Too much of the same?
 

The Judge

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#16
To be honest, I really don't think it's changed nearly enough. For me, it's still too vague and you need to add specifics.

As a minor point, I think you need to make it explicit that he's not just waking up from a snooze, so if you're not mentioning the cryochamber itself, I think "wake from cryosleep" or something alone those lines.

To me "handful of survivors" is a bit meh. Personally, I'd only use "handful" if I wanted to avoid confirming numbers as there's a shock somewhere, eg there are in fact six not five of them, but that's not apparent until mid-way through the book. So if that's the reason you've used it, fine, but otherwise I'd suggest you give the exact number. And "survivors" ought to suggest others have died, but it's not really working when a few words later you say "abandoned" -- as a reader I'm immediately confused as to whether you really mean survivors, and it's simply everyone else has left. If people have died, say so, and give specifics and to make it more visceral have something like "Surrounded by dead colonists killed by a loss of power to the cryo-berths, Jaigar and four survivors must..."

Again I'm confused by the no food and no water bit. If it's just no food and water in the room in which they're trapped, I feel you have to make that clear. If there's none on the ship, they're dead men walking surely, so all tension that you need is lost. It simply doesn't matter how dangerous the ship is otherwise, they're goners anyway. And as a matter of semantics, I simply cannot see how he can take control of the situation -- he's not taking control, he can only deal with the situation, eg by finding or creating food and water. So instead of "take control" have eg "locate the hidden stores" or "turn on the auto-feeders" or whatever. And why "to help the others" and not, apparently, save himself? I'd be more interested in a character thinking sauve qui peut and devil take the hindmost, unless he has a specific reason to keep the others alive.

The question of emergency power doesn't actually sound at all threatening as it stands, so I'd leave that out, unless it's eg "with only enough power to keep life-support working for two days" or something of the kind. And to my mind you need to delete the bit in the final para "could help Jaigar" -- you're immediately nullifying the threat of the ship being a dangerous place.

Sorry to pull the blurb apart again, but I do think my version is a better model on which you should build. You'll obviously need to make changes as I've had to assume too many things, not knowing what the plot is, but those changes must make it more exciting and intriguing, and this version isn't hitting the target for me.
 

Brian G Turner

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#17
Cheers for that @The Judge - that's really helpful.

In which case, my latest suggestion would follow your model, with only minor tweaks:


Jaigar expected to wake when the colony ship reached the new world. Instead he's trapped in the cryochamber with five strangers. The power is out, and there's no food or water.

He needs to find a way to escape and to handle their situation. But a damaged starship is a dangerous place, especially when each survivor carries a secret which could prove deadly to him.
 

The Judge

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#18
For me, yes, that's better, but I'm biased! And I think it could be made a lot more gripping if there is something in the plot which you could incorporate to give it a kick eg "... five strangers and thirty dead bodies" or "power is out, and oxygen levels falling".

The "needs to find a way to escape" is pretty self-evident from his predicament, so I think you're better off with something along Dan's suggested opening to the second para eg "Time is running out in his race to escape" which is still pretty vague but at least sounds more exciting. And in place of a bland "handle the situation" can you not give a hint as to what he actually does? eg if they resort to cannibalism of the cryo-victims, "To survive they have to resort to Humankind's ultimate taboo" though preferably less B-film-voice-over-ish than that.

Basically, I think it needs more pep. The old joke about a bestseller needing only religion, royalty, sex, and mystery** isn't so far from the mark. Change religion for death, royalty for something SFish, bring in mystery, and sex the whole thing up. Job done!


** "Oh my god," said the princess, "I'm pregnant. Whodunnit?" :LOL:
 

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