1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Throwing in my first-draft blurb for critique

    Discussion in 'Blurb Critique' started by Catrin Lewis, Mar 10, 2024.

    I've made some progress towards composing a back-cover/Amazon page blurb for my 2nd in series novel.

    Here's my first attempt, before I lose my nerve:

    (Note: I'm deliberately not mentioning the genre or the target audience. Of course I hope my book cover will communicate what genre it is, but I won't work the label into the design. The blurb should express that, shouldn't it, without using the specific words? Unless you think I should spell it out?)


    “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
    But what if your “neighbor” is the man who tried to wreck your marriage before it even began?

    Putting behind them their near-death ordeal the previous summer, architects Sandy Beichten and Eric Baumann can hardly wait till their wedding in the spring. But Sandy’s ex-fiancé has other ideas. An internationally-renowned violinist and conductor from West Germany, he does all he can to renew his relationship with her and cut Eric out of the picture. Ultimately unsuccessful, his actions leave the lovers with the fervent desire to have nothing to do with him, ever again.

    But when their honeymoon in central Europe is disturbed by the news that her ex has been kidnapped by a brutal gang of German left-wing terrorists, Eric and Sandy are faced with the very real possibility that their help is key to getting him out alive. Will their decision result in the liberation of a man God calls them to love whether they want to or not . . . or will it entangle them in a fatal web of jealousy and deceit, born from the vows and promises of the past?

     
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  2. Hammer

    Hammer Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would hack swathes out of that.


    “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
    But what if your “neighbor” is the man who tried to wreck your marriage before it even began?

    Putting behind them their near-death ordeal the previous summer, architects Sandy Beichten and Eric Baumann can hardly wait till their wedding in the spring. B, but Sandy’s ex-fiancé has other ideas. An internationally-renowned violinist and conductor from West Germany, he does all he can to renew his relationship with her and cut Eric out of the picture. Ultimately unsuccessful, his actions leave the lovers with the fervent desire to have nothing to do with him, ever again.

    But when their honeymoon in central Europe is disturbed by the news that her ex has been kidnapped by a brutal gang of German left-wing terrorists, Eric and Sandy are faced with the very real possibility that their help is key to getting him out alive. Will their decision result in the liberation of a man God calls them to love whether they want to or not . . . or will it entangle them in a fatal web of jealousy and deceit, born from the vows and promises of the past?

    Just my opinion, but I don't think the minor details matter too much in a blurb - it's there to tell a potential reader that this is the book they want to read; your ten-second elevator pitch. If you can grab their attention, they might just read the first couple of sentences, if you've still got their attention, they might just bite.

     
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  3. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Yeah, I was wondering if that opening clause was necessary. It refers to the action of the first-in-series. I'd just as soon do without it.

    And am I stressing too much over the chance that readers won't understand that the kidnapping takes place relatively close to where my protags are at the time, and will think the premise is (literally) far-fetched?
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    I mostly agree with the Hammer-man, but would also do this:
    The double-use of by bothered me a bit, and led to this.

    It seems like you're trying to get too much detail in, which isn't necessary and can really weigh a blurb down. Go for the essence.
     
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  5. trevorD

    trevorD Senior Member

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    If he were ultimately successful (in doing all he can could to renew their relationship), why would the fervent lovers never want to have anything to do with them? Also, do you need the full names for both characters?

    Grossly simplified..

    Sandy and Eric are looking forward to their picturesque wedding in Central Europe that upcoming spring. But when Sandy's ex-boyfriend is kidnapped, she must choose between her own wants and desires and the life of an innocent man. Will helping him destroy her opportunity at true love and risk entangling them in a fatal web of jealousy and deceit?

    The blurb thing is a pain in the derriere, lol. You write these damn things and then get jammed up in the brubing process!! We feel ya and best of luck!! Trev-
     
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  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Thanks for all the feedback so far. What's raising nervous laughter in me is that this is getting so pared down it's veering away from being a back cover blurb and into being a logline/elevator pitch. When I look at the backs of the novels I read, I'm used to seeing more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2024
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    You're right about that. But there was a problem with maybe the way all that info was being presented. It felt jarring to switch locations several times like that. Maybe don't cut it as far as all our suggestions combined, but think about how to make the sentences flow more smoothly, without all the sudden dislocations. And it might just be a matter of too many modifiers for a blurb.
     
  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    The parts I highlighted in red are examples of difficult wording. If it can be streamlined it would flow a lot better. In fact that's the main reason I cut anything, the wording just feels too complicated and disrupts the smooth flow. Often it's because of the little words like in, of, with, by, etc. You don't want several phrases that rely on these words jammed into a sentence. If it can be reworded to lose some of those little connecting words it would work much better. That's specificallly why I changed honeymoon in central Europe to European honeymoon. It removes in and central, both of which are hiccups in the smooth flow. In fact reading over it again I should have highlighted Decision and Liberation in the same sentence. Big clunky Latinate words where I would try to put shorter Anglo-Saxon ones. All those ions and extra syllables can really gum things up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2024
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  9. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Isn't it?

    My gut inclination towards putting the last names in is to assure the readers who bought my first in series that we're continuing the same couple's story. But I'll check my shelves for what other authors have done in similar circumstances and be led by them.
     
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  10. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    You've got something there. To be honest, I was aware the prose didn't flow the way I like. It was me trying to use the least number of words to get in information I thought was important . . . but maybe it's not?
     
  11. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Another question: What do you mean by "switch locations several times like that"?
     
  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    What I meant when I wrote it was too many different places (central Europe etc), but I don't think that's really a problem. I think I was trying to work my way to the idea of too many dislocations in the smooth flow of the sentences. So disregard that.
     
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  13. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Another question for all and sundry:

    Do I have to add in a call-to-action/puff paragraph to the end of this? On the order of

    Set against the political ferment of 1980s Europe, Strong as Death [something-somethings] the reader [blah, blah] up to a climax that [etc., etc.] . . .
    On one hand, it'd be a good place to make it clear the book is set in the 1980s, for readers who like that sort of thing.

    On the other hand, the very idea of describing my own work in glowing terms makes me want to throw up. Somebody else wants to read the story and supply me a few attention-grabbing adjectives? Fine. I'll put them in. But off my own bat? I can't. I just can't.
     
  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Nobody is going to notice that or care at the blurb-level. And there's nothing far-fetched to be found anyway.
     
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  15. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    You mean people look at the backs of novels already prepared to suspend their disbelief?
     
  16. Rath Darkblade

    Rath Darkblade Active Member

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    Yes. I write historical fiction, and combine rigorously-researched history with equally-researched mythology (plus equally-sized big dollops of inspiration, guesswork and humour).

    Anyone who wants to read this sort of thing would have to suspend their disbelief. So far, no-one's complained. ;)

    So let's see ...

    I agree with everyone so far -- pare this down to the bone. No-one has mentioned yet, though, that 'very real possibility' can be pared down to 'possibility'. You don't need 'very real', in your blurb or in your prose. They're both crutch words that add nothing but word-count.

    *cracks fingers*

    ============
    Putting behind them their near-death ordeal the previous summer, architects Sandy Beichten and Eric Baumann can hardly wait till their spring wedding, in the spring. B but Sandy’s ex-fiancé has other ideas. An internationally-renowned violinist and conductor from West Germany, he does all he can to renew his relationship with Sandy. her and cut Eric out of the picture. Ultimately unsuccessful, his actions leave the lovers with the fervent desire to have nothing to do with him, ever again.

    But when their European honeymoon in central Europe is disturbed by the news that of her ex being has been kidnapped by a brutal gang of German left-wing terrorists, Eric and Sandy's help might be are faced with the very real possibility that their help is key to getting him out alive. Will their decision result in the liberation of liberate a man God calls them to love, whether they want to or not . . . or will it entangle them in a fatal web of jealousy and deceit, born from the vows and promises of the past?
    ============

    I've taken out the sentence about what the violinist/conductor's actions cause, because:

    a) If Sandy and Eric are so in love, the consequences would be obvious;
    b) You don't need to tell your readers what happens. If they know, you won't pique their interest. Writing a blurb is like making an hors d'oeuvre: give them a taste, not the whole meal.

    I've also done my best to simplify all of this. For instance:

    1. We don't need to know who kidnaps Sandy's ex. All that matters is that he was kidnapped.

    2. Let's simplify the bit about Eric and Sandy's help. "Their help might be key" instead of "faced with the very real possibility that their help is key..." etc. 5 words, not 11.

    3. "Liberate" instead of "result in the liberation of". One word instead of five. Simplify! :)

    4. The word "fatal" in "fatal web" is not necessary.
    Etc.

    I hope you find this useful. :) Remember, your blurb should only convey the barest essence of the plot. Also, don't use two or three words where one will do. Good luck!
     
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