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Author Topic: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)  (Read 598 times)  

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« on: May 18, 2017, 07:28:37 AM »
UPDATED October 12, 2017 (at response no. 10):

Thanks to a handful of you wonderful people, especially Jim Johnson, who really workshopped with me in this thread, I released my first action/adventury/mil scifi title with a blurb I was pretty proud of over the summer. But I'm gearing up to do my first KU free days promotion of that title, in conjunction with the release of Book 3 in the series on 10/30, and I'm revisiting things. I think the blurb can be hookier still, especially after seeing the Chris Fox revise and revise his blurb hook for Techmage (see his youtube channel--it's the uber-hook). So I'm asking for opinions, from any and all, on my current reworking. I'm tough and can take it if you want to help but don't have time to sugarcoat! Lay it on me, people. Thanks in advance ;)

---------

Current/published blurb:

The Kuiper Fleet has two duties: keep the peace; and protect the colonies.
The people of the Belt left Earth long ago to seek their own way of life, and have been fighting ever since to stay free of the Old Earth Empire. But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the Sol system. So when both sides agree to a peace summit on Pluto, the Fleet's first objective has never been more important.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified First Officer--on paper.
But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Truth be told, he would rather be hacking into the ship's computer to mod the simulations into awesome games than be in a position of command. The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax under the temporary armistice. But when they run afoul of space pirates, the Fairfax takes brutal damage and the captain and ambassador go missing. Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?

The Lunar Gambit is the first-in-series of Starship Fairfax, a military science fiction adventure set in the Kuiper Chronicles universe. You can learn more about the series and the author at:
http://benjamindouglasbooks.wordpress.com

---------

Revision 1, 10/12/2017:

They wrecked his ship. They stole his guns. And they thrust him into command.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Now the Starship Fairfax, flagship of the Kuiper Belt fleet, has been waylaid by pirates, and Lucas has inherited a mission already doomed to fail. Can he harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and take back what was stolen before all hell breaks loose?

The Lunar Gambit is the first-in-series of Starship Fairfax, a military science fiction adventure set in the Kuiper Chronicles universe. It is precluded by "Totaled," a free short story available on Amazon, and "The Trials of Io," a free short story available only to subscribers to Benjamin's newsletter (subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/cQnop9).

You can learn more about the series and the author at:
http://benjamindouglasbooks.wordpress.com
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 11:30:11 AM by Benjamin Douglas »

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2017, 07:35:24 AM »
Lucas Odin has every reason to be in command--on paper. But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. When he is thrust into the captain's chair of The Starship Fairfax, a Kuiper Fleet flagship, his days at the academy become nothing but a memory. This is the real proving ground. Pirates. Space mafia. Explosions. Revelations. Treachery. And every decision he makes means life or death for his crew and his captain--maybe for the colonies themselves. Will he pass the test?

Is he the captain or not? If so, the second reference sounds very weird.

What colonies are you talking about? There's no mention of a nation, empire, political entity that might relate to colonies.

I'd also argue that there's nothing really here that's unique about Odin--he's got command potential and "every decision he makes means life or death for his crew and his captain--maybe for the colonies themselves. Will he pass the test?" That's pretty much the definition of starship captain. What makes Odin different from Adama, Kirk, Harrington, and every other starship captain out there?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 07:36:59 AM by Jim Johnson »

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 08:39:34 AM »
Is he the captain or not? If so, the second reference sounds very weird.

What colonies are you talking about? There's no mention of a nation, empire, political entity that might relate to colonies.

I'd also argue that there's nothing really here that's unique about Odin--he's got command potential and "every decision he makes means life or death for his crew and his captain--maybe for the colonies themselves. Will he pass the test?" That's pretty much the definition of starship captain. What makes Odin different from Adama, Kirk, Harrington, and every other starship captain out there?

Jim, thanks as always for your generosity. You're dead on! Huh. It's funny what you can't see when you've been living with it for a while. I'm hearing you say it needs more context, and Odin isn't hooky enough. Lemme try another whack here...


---


The Kuiper Fleet has two duties: keep the peace; and protect the colonies. The people of the Belt left Earth long ago to seek their own way of life, and have been fighting ever since to stay free of the Old Earth Empire. But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the system. So when both sides agree to a peace summit, the Fleet's first objective has never been more important.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified First Officer--on paper. But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Truth be told, he would rather be hacking into the ship's computer to mod the simulations into awesome games then be in a position of command. The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax. But when the ship runs afoul of space pirates, things begin to spiral out of control. Now the ambassador and the captain are missing, and the unproven first officer has to use his unorthodox skills and some creative thinking to keep his crew alive and find their kidnapped guest, or risk a system-wide war.

Will he pass the test?

The Lunar Gambit is the first-in-series of The Starship Fairfax, a military science fiction adventure set in the Kuiper Chronicles universe. You can learn more about the series and the author at:
http://benjamindouglasbooks.wordpress.com

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 08:54:31 AM »
The Kuiper Fleet has two duties: keep the peace; and protect the colonies. The people of the Belt left Earth long ago to seek their own way of life, and have been fighting ever since to stay free of the Old Earth Empire. But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the system. So when both sides agree to a peace summit, the Fleet's first objective has never been more important.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified First Officer--on paper. But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Truth be told, he would rather be hacking into the ship's computer to mod the simulations into awesome games then be in a position of command. The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax. But when the ship runs afoul of space pirates, things begin to spiral out of control. Now the ambassador and the captain are missing, and the unproven first officer has to use his unorthodox skills and some creative thinking to keep his crew alive and find their kidnapped guest, or risk a system-wide war.

I like this a ton better. Makes me identify with Odin a little more.

Some more questions:

But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the system. Which system? Is the Belt part of Sol's solar system? I'm not grokking the geographic relationships among the Belt, the colonies, the Old Earth Empire, and the 'system' mentioned. Can this be easily clarified?

The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax. This seems backwards, but I'm guessing it's a character flaw with Odin? Shuttling an ambassador would be more stressful/important, wouldn't it? I'd think officers would be less relaxed in that case.

But when the ship runs afoul of space pirates, things begin to spiral out of control. Deleting 'begin to' would make this a much stronger sentence. Though, 'things' is vague.

Now the ambassador and the captain are missing, and the unproven first officer has to use his unorthodox skills and some creative thinking to keep his crew alive and find their kidnapped guest, or risk a system-wide war.

So does the book open with the ambassador and captain missing? I think some clarity on that would help. I'm guessing we'll start off seeing Odin as a high-potential officer who'd rather dither around, but then is soon thrust into command because pirates. I think rather than saying "now the ambassador and captain are missing" you'd want something like "When the ship runs afoul of space pirates, the ambassador and captain are captured and the ship is brutally damaged. Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?"

Or something like that. Amp up the stakes and show the real impact on the character. I'm always interested in seeing more good SF out there, and Star Trek and space opera is near and dear to me.

Offline funnyaf

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2017, 09:10:46 AM »
Do not listen to a word I say.
So, is he suddenly stuck being the captain after the captain comes up missing? If so, I'd make that clear, just use better words than me.

I checked out your blog and signed up to follow, I hope that's okay. It was Max that got me. I love him. The way you talk about him is hilarious. I have two cats of my own, that I swear have been plotting my death for almost ten years. I've actually been to the doctor with a bleeding eyeball because of one of them.

I'd like to share the poetry with my brother-in-law. He writes some and would love it.

L. J. Stone

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 09:20:36 AM »
I like this a ton better. Makes me identify with Odin a little more.

Some more questions:

But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the system. Which system? Is the Belt part of Sol's solar system? I'm not grokking the geographic relationships among the Belt, the colonies, the Old Earth Empire, and the 'system' mentioned. Can this be easily clarified?

The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax. This seems backwards, but I'm guessing it's a character flaw with Odin? Shuttling an ambassador would be more stressful/important, wouldn't it? I'd think officers would be less relaxed in that case.

But when the ship runs afoul of space pirates, things begin to spiral out of control. Deleting 'begin to' would make this a much stronger sentence. Though, 'things' is vague.

Now the ambassador and the captain are missing, and the unproven first officer has to use his unorthodox skills and some creative thinking to keep his crew alive and find their kidnapped guest, or risk a system-wide war.

So does the book open with the ambassador and captain missing? I think some clarity on that would help. I'm guessing we'll start off seeing Odin as a high-potential officer who'd rather dither around, but then is soon thrust into command because pirates. I think rather than saying "now the ambassador and captain are missing" you'd want something like "When the ship runs afoul of space pirates, the ambassador and captain are captured and the ship is brutally damaged. Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?"

Or something like that. Amp up the stakes and show the real impact on the character. I'm always interested in seeing more good SF out there, and Star Trek and space opera is near and dear to me.

Thanks again Jim!

Hmmmmm... lots to chew on here. I hear everything you're saying. I'm not 100% sure I've got the best way to implement it yet, especially the location stuff. I do really love that last sentence though, and will shamelessly steal it from you (if you don't mind). Let me tinker:

---

The Kuiper Fleet has two duties: keep the peace; and protect the colonies. The people of the Belt left Earth long ago to seek their own way of life, and have been fighting ever since to stay free of the Old Earth Empire. But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the Sol system. So when both sides agree to a peace summit on Pluto, the Fleet's first objective has never been more important.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified First Officer--on paper. But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Truth be told, he would rather be hacking into the ship's computer to mod the simulations into awesome games then be in a position of command. The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax under the temporary armistice. But when they run afoul of space pirates, the Fairfax takes brutal damage and the captain and ambassador go missing. Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 09:22:37 AM »
Do not listen to a word I say.
So, is he suddenly stuck being the captain after the captain comes up missing? If so, I'd make that clear, just use better words than me.

I checked out your blog and signed up to follow, I hope that's okay. It was Max that got me. I love him. The way you talk about him is hilarious. I have two cats of my own, that I swear have been plotting my death for almost ten years. I've actually been to the doctor with a bleeding eyeball because of one of them.

I'd like to share the poetry with my brother-in-law. He writes some and would love it.

funnyaf, thanks for the follow! HAH, I'm glad you like Max ;) He is always happy to enlist worshippers (erm, fans, I mean). I've got to overhaul the blog to make it a little more of a marketed funnel to the books I'm about to start launching, but I'll be sure to keep the poetry. Feel free to share!

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 09:24:53 AM »
Thanks again Jim!

Hmmmmm... lots to chew on here. I hear everything you're saying. I'm not 100% sure I've got the best way to implement it yet, especially the location stuff. I do really love that last sentence though, and will shamelessly steal it from you (if you don't mind). Let me tinker:

---

The Kuiper Fleet has two duties: keep the peace; and protect the colonies. The people of the Belt left Earth long ago to seek their own way of life, and have been fighting ever since to stay free of the Old Earth Empire. But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the Sol system. So when both sides agree to a peace summit on Pluto, the Fleet's first objective has never been more important.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified First Officer--on paper. But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Truth be told, he would rather be hacking into the ship's computer to mod the simulations into awesome games then be in a position of command. The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax under the temporary armistice. But when they run afoul of space pirates, the Fairfax takes brutal damage and the captain and ambassador go missing. Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?

Borrow away, Benjamin! I like the revision and would definitely check out the sample chapters. Lemme know when you're about to go live and I'll pimp the book on my mailing list.

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2017, 10:26:39 AM »
Borrow away, Benjamin! I like the revision and would definitely check out the sample chapters. Lemme know when you're about to go live and I'll pimp the book on my mailing list.

Wow Jim, thanks! That's very gracious of you. I'm much aware of my prawniest-of-prawns prawnliness. Shooting to release on 6/29 (my birthday). I'll be sure to keep you in the loop!

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Shred my blurb!
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2017, 12:20:04 PM »
Wow Jim, thanks! That's very gracious of you. I'm much aware of my prawniest-of-prawns prawnliness. Shooting to release on 6/29 (my birthday). I'll be sure to keep you in the loop!

Prawns support prawns and then someday we're not so prawny any more. Or dipped in cocktail sauce. Not sure how that goes.

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Re: Shred my scifi blurb! (rev.)
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 11:26:51 AM »
Bumping because I'm reworking my blurb again before I try my first KU free run in a couple of weeks! The goal: make this as hooky as possible so that EVERYONE who reads it has to have it. Action/adventure/military/Firefly-esque scifi. Help me, Rhonda, help, help me, Rhonda. Any and all criticism and critique, no matter how harsh, is welcome--I'm tough :) Thanks in advance! Here's the current/published blurb, followed by my latest revision. Thoughts on the revision are very much appreciated.


Current/published blurb:

The Kuiper Fleet has two duties: keep the peace; and protect the colonies.
The people of the Belt left Earth long ago to seek their own way of life, and have been fighting ever since to stay free of the Old Earth Empire. But Earth is still the most precious treasure in the Sol system. So when both sides agree to a peace summit on Pluto, the Fleet's first objective has never been more important.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified First Officer--on paper.
But his only battles to date have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Truth be told, he would rather be hacking into the ship's computer to mod the simulations into awesome games than be in a position of command. The Starship Fairfax is given the task of shuttling an important Earth ambassador to the summit, and Odin thinks he can relax under the temporary armistice. But when they run afoul of space pirates, the Fairfax takes brutal damage and the captain and ambassador go missing. Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?

The Lunar Gambit is the first-in-series of Starship Fairfax, a military science fiction adventure set in the Kuiper Chronicles universe. You can learn more about the series and the author at:
http://benjamindouglasbooks.wordpress.com

---------

Revision 1, 10/12/2017:

They wrecked his ship. They stole his guns. And they thrust him into command.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Now the Starship Fairfax, flagship of the Kuiper Belt fleet, has been waylaid by pirates, and Lucas has inherited a mission already doomed to fail. Can he harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and take back what was stolen before all hell breaks loose?

The Lunar Gambit is the first-in-series of Starship Fairfax, a military science fiction adventure set in the Kuiper Chronicles universe. It is precluded by "Totaled," a free short story available on Amazon, and "The Trials of Io," a free short story available only to subscribers to Benjamin's newsletter (subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/cQnop9).

You can learn more about the series and the author at:
http://benjamindouglasbooks.wordpress.com
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 11:29:41 AM by Benjamin Douglas »

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 11:50:30 AM »
This is the only part I had a problem with: "Can he harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and take back what was stolen before all hell breaks loose?"

Personally, I don't like questions like this in blurbs because usually the answer is, "Well, yes, obviously." It feels like a false way of trying to build suspense. False, because you've given me no reason to suspect the answer may be no. Also, "harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking" is really vague, and vague is not hooky. A better way might be to tell us specifically what he needs to do and what specifically will be the consequences if he fails, and maybe include specifically what kind of obstacles are standing in his way and specifically what things he'll do to reach his goal.

I liked the blurb up until that line. I think you need to work on sticking the landing a little better.

And I don't think "precluded" is the word you want there.

Offline Benjamin Douglas

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2017, 12:21:48 PM »
This is the only part I had a problem with: "Can he harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and take back what was stolen before all hell breaks loose?"

And I don't think "precluded" is the word you want there.

Thanks, Puddleduck! Good eye on precluded ;) you're totally right. I must have been having an "INCONCEIVABLE!" moment / Malapropism. Changing to preluded.

I hear you on the question--thanks for that feedback. It hadn't occurred to me that there's a bit of a straw man there. Revising:


They wrecked his ship. They stole his guns. And they thrust him into command.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Now the Starship Fairfax, flagship of the Kuiper Belt fleet, has been waylaid by pirates, and Lucas has inherited a mission already doomed to fail. If he wants to keep the Fairfax flying, keep his crew alive, and take back what was stolen, there's only one way:

By getting his hands dirty.

The Lunar Gambit is the first-in-series of Starship Fairfax, a military science fiction adventure set in the Kuiper Chronicles universe. It is preluded by "Totaled," a free short story available on Amazon, and "The Trials of Io," a free short story available only to subscribers to Benjamin's newsletter (subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/cQnop9).

You can learn more about the series and the author at:
http://benjamindouglasbooks.wordpress.com



More thoughts, anyone? Hey, is it too short? Does it say enough? Or am I just finding something to worry about?

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2017, 02:25:46 PM »
Tell me a little about Lucas's ordinary life.  He's a first officer, but apparently not very accomplished.  What does he want?  Does he want to stay in the military and try to work his way up?  Or is he ready to call it quits and get out and try his luck in the private sector?

Also, what did the pirates steal?

Lucas must keep his crew alive, but who is threatening them?  Is it the pirates?  Or is it some other entity?

What does "getting his hands dirty" mean?  What's the "mission doomed to fail"?

Basically, the blurb seems a little thin on info right now.  Let's see if we can't beef it up a little.   ;)
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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2017, 02:32:05 PM »
I like that a lot better. I personally don't think you *need* more info in there, but it wouldn't hurt to try adding some more details in and seeing how it looks.

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2017, 03:47:02 PM »
The posted revision is far more interesting and grabby than the original. I think I might add something about his genius for hacking in there. It seems a bit thin on what he has to get the reader to cheer him on or indicate what kind of unorthodox thinking he might have planned that would lure me in vs the usual.

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2017, 04:10:36 PM »
They wrecked his ship. They stole his guns. And they thrust him into command.

Lucas Odin looks like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. Now the Starship Fairfax, flagship of the Kuiper Belt fleet, has been waylaid by pirates, and Lucas has inherited a mission already doomed to fail. If he wants to keep the Fairfax flying, keep his crew alive, and take back what was stolen, there's only one way:

By getting his hands dirty.

Overall I think the blurb is great. I'd consider switching "looks" to "seems", and I suggest cutting the flagship clause, 'cause just look how smoothly and dramatically it reads without it. ;) I dig the change you made to the last sentence of the paragraph, as it sets the stakes well, but the conclusion seems off because it's divorced from the theme of Lucas's arc, at least as it came across in the setup. His challenge sounded more like lack of skill than a reservation against dirty work, so the last line wasn't impactful.


Offline SidK

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2017, 04:56:44 PM »
I am just a prawn but I do have a Mil Sci-Fi series with some sales so I will take a shot at it. Feel free to ignore it if it doesn't feel right.

I think the blurb needs to have some clue as to the actual enemy or danger that is lurking ahead of this 'Lucas Odin' to build suspense for the readers.

Here is my take:

"Scoundrels wrecked my starship and took my guns, but now I have my own command and I am going to make them pay," so vows Lucas Odin, the captain of Starship Fairfax.

Lucas wants space pirates dead and he wants them blasted into space but the pirates themselves are baying for Lucas' blood. They may both get their wishes.

Earth Ambassador is on his way to a peace summit to end a raging space war but his route takes him through the pirate infested Kupier Belt. And when the pirates actually strike and kidnap the ambassador, new Captain Lucas jumps into action, lasers blasting, for a final chance at redeemption.

 

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2017, 07:50:05 PM »
Mmmm, thanks everyone! Lots of tasty feedback for me to mull on, here.

Jeff--I feel you; I know it's quite short now. I'm still hemming and hawwing over whether or not there needs to be more connecting the dots, as there was in the last iteration (the one currently published). But so much of what I prefer about the current revision is how punchy and mysterious it is, I don't want to lose that new vibe. I'll keep turning that over in my head. Any suggestions on how to give the reader more without sating their curiosity are welcome! I brought in a little more of that in the new iteration (below)... but I'm worried now that it feels like bloat. I just can't decide.

Mylius--You're totally right! You and someone on 20books pointed that same thing out, and I hadn't realized until you did, but I was cramming in a hook line at the end without taking enough care for how it worked into Lucas' arc. Thanks for that. I'm going to try something new below--let me know if it solves this for you.

SidK--I actually really like your take a lot--thanks for chiming in! It's very mil scifi, but that isn't quite the character here (not your fault; all you've got to go on is my WIP blurb, lol); my guy and story both have more of a slightly campy, fun, action/adventury/Firefly-esque vibe. Think Lindsay Buroker fan fiction, and you've got a pretty good idea of where I'm coming from.

LATEST REVISION: I'm still tweaking that first hook as well; let me know if this latest change is for better or worse :)



His ship is wrecked. His guns are empty. And he's been thrust into command on his first tour. What could go wrong?

Lucas Odin seems like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. He just isn't a "take charge" kind of guy. To be honest, he'd rather spend his first tour gaming on the ship's modded sims than dealing with real people. But when the Starship Fairfax is waylaid by pirates, Lucas inherits a mission already doomed to fail. If he wants to keep the ship flying, keep his crew alive, and take back what was stolen, there's only one way:

By taking charge.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 07:57:54 PM by Benjamin Douglas »

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 08:51:34 PM »
But so much of what I prefer about the current revision is how punchy and mysterious it is, I don't want to lose that new vibe. I'll keep turning that over in my head. Any suggestions on how to give the reader more without sating their curiosity are welcome!

Anything that happens in Act 1 or the beginning of Act 2 is fair game for the blurb.

Also, I'm generally opposed to taglines.  They're almost always too vague to be of any use to me.  In fact, whenever I'm browsing product pages for books, I never read anything in bold type because I know it's not going to tell me anything about the story.

Anyway, on to your latest blurb.  This here is a good start:

Quote
Lucas Odin seems like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. He just isn't a "take charge" kind of guy. To be honest, he'd rather spend his first tour gaming on the ship's modded sims than dealing with real people.

This is still too vague:

Quote
But when the Starship Fairfax is waylaid by pirates, Lucas inherits a mission already doomed to fail. If he wants to keep the ship flying, keep his crew alive, and take back what was stolen, there's only one way:

And this is kind of meaningless:

Quote
By taking charge.

If "taking charge" means taking command of the ship after the death of the captain, then say that specifically.

Here's a sample blurb for you, a sort of template.  You'll need to substitute in the actual names of things.  Tell me what you think:

Quote
Lucas Odin seems like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. He just isn't a "take charge" kind of guy. To be honest, he'd rather spend his first tour gaming on the ship's modded sims than dealing with real people.

His captain's poor decisions change all that.  Their mission to deliver the MacGuffin to Alderaan fails, and the MacGuffin ends up in the hands of space pirates.  The captain is killed during the fight, and Lucas must take command of the ship.  The crew knows he doesn't have what it takes, and he'll have to earn their respect, as well as his own self-confidence, the hard way.  He must become the leader they deserve, and quickly, because the pirates aren't just planning on selling the MacGuffin--they intend to use it for galactic domination.  If Lucas can't retrieve it, then all of humanity will fall into a new dark age ruled by the Pirate Empire.

Hope that helps.   :)
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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 09:06:44 PM »
I like that one Jeff. Just get the OP spin on the voice and that ship sails!

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2017, 09:57:57 PM »
I like that one Jeff. Just get the OP spin on the voice and that ship sails!

Thanks, C.   :)
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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2017, 10:40:27 PM »
So the things I liked from Jeff's blurb is the bit about him having to earn the respect of the crew and how it adds a more concrete idea of the story.

The thing I liked about the original that went missing is this line:
Can Odin harness his true potential and use his unorthodox methods and creative thinking to keep his crew alive and rescue the captives before all hell breaks loose?

I like that Odin has creative thinking and unorthodox methods. That's more interesting than saying he likes to avoid people and run simulations. It makes me like him and want to see how he uses his mind to solve the problem.

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Re: Make my action/adv/mil scifi blurb HOOKIER! (updated)
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2017, 05:39:38 AM »
His ship is wrecked. His guns are empty. And he's been thrust into command on his first tour. What could go wrong?

Lucas Odin seems like a qualified first officer--on paper. But his only battles so far have been simulations, each one a miserable failure. He just isn't a "take charge" kind of guy. To be honest, he'd rather spend his first tour gaming on the ship's modded sims than dealing with real people. But when the Starship Fairfax is waylaid by pirates, Lucas inherits a mission already doomed to fail. If he wants to keep the ship flying, keep his crew alive, and take back what was stolen, there's only one way:

By taking charge.

I think your instinct about bloat is dead on. The part I italicized expounds on the sense of character that the first two sentences opened up, but I don't personally think it needs expounded on. It's regressive, works its way backwards to explain or elaborate on something that's already been said... but as a military/action/adventure, it's all about being sucked forward by the plot. ;) IMO the first two sentences do great work in illustrating an underdog character, and that's something readers will respond to.

If anything, expanding a little bit about the "mission doomed to fail" might help heighten the sense of what he's up against and signal to the military/action fans that there's battles to be had. An extra sentence after it that showcases the antagonistic force more could do the trick, as long as its concise and dramatic (what was stolen, BTW? What's the deal with the pirates?).

Another approach you might consider with the very last bit could be to take this: If he wants to keep the ship flying, keep his crew alive, and take back what was stolen," there's only one way:, cut the last bit and complete the thought within the sentence, instead of breaking away with "To take charge.". To take charge does sound more relevant, but I think the force of the idea itself is being diluted somehow, perhaps because it sounds too impersonal. It's possible, though, that this formula of highlighting the transformation he'll need in order to match the stakes doesn't fit the genre, as far as where the focus in the blurb should go. I think it's safe to assume he'll be internally inclined to make the transformation in response to what happens, or else he wouldn't be the protagonist, but opposing forces should be working against him the more he pushes to make that transformation, usually. What are those? Structuring them into the blurb could make a big difference.

I'm not sure if I explained that well enough, and I could be off anyways (this is all my subjective viewpoint). For instance though, in the first in my series, there's an internal transformation my protagonist has to go through in order to be capable of defeating the antagonist, but I don't mention it at all in the blurb because, by putting the spotlight on it, it'd make the story sound more like a literary character-study than an action novel. In this case, I found it better to stack up the external obstacles on top of each other to make it uncertain the objective can be fulfilled. They go on the warpath to save her, but the CIA isnt through with him, a deadly force is hot on their trail, and time is running out.

For example, "He tries to take charge, but..." could be a good lead in.