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Offline AliceS

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Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« on: March 06, 2018, 08:42:21 AM »
Long time lurker here, nervously asking for blurb help for the first time. This is a sort of coming of age / hero's journey story. Thanks.

Life is harsh in the town of Far Enough, especially for a young woman alone. Flints dreams of leaving have been postponed too long. The death of her father releases her to finally begin the long journey down to  the school for Wizards and Weirdlings. She knows she is a little too old and very late in starting her training as a Weedwise, but perseveres none the less. Only one day out, and things go badly awry for her.

The journey gets more complicated with every new encounter. Despite help from unexpected allies, she is left increasingly confused as she learns about the greater world. Neither the rich nor the powerful can answer the question that bothers her the most. If the god Dwyner gives his Guides powerful magic, and the god Bhanur gives his Hands the gift of healing, who gives Flint the ability to see into a persons soul?


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Offline CelinaSummers

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 01:47:41 PM »
A great blurb does three things: establishes the protagonist, establishes the conflict, and leaves the reader with a question they *HAVE* to answer.

Now your close to the blurb is great: If the god Dwyner gives his Guides powerful magic, and the god Bhanur gives his Hands the gift of healing, who gives Flint the ability to see into a persons soul?

Here's the problem. The rest of your blurb is too vague. We don't know what a Weedwise is, or who the gods are, or even that Flint has the ability to see into a person's soul. If you're going to make this your question for the reader, then you need to set that up clearly or this all devolves into gibberish. So as you go back to work through this, that's what you want to focus on. Establish Flint clearly and succinctly. Give us enough info about magic and the gods so that we have context for those names. And isolate your conflict clearly. I am assuming that in this world, all magic is conferred by the gods...and the conflict Flint has to face is the fact that she has a magic no one else possesses and no one has any idea where that power originated.

So break this up into three paragraphs. Paragraph 1--Flint and who/what she is. Paragraph 2--the conflict/Flint's unusual power. Paragraph 3--set up what you need in order for your closing question to make sense.

Hope that helps.

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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 01:57:40 PM »
Thanks Celina. That gives me a lot to think about.


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Offline Gregg Bell

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 02:45:35 PM »
Long time lurker here, nervously asking for blurb help for the first time. This is a sort of coming of age / hero's journey story. Thanks.

Life is harsh in the town of Far Enough, especially for a young woman alone. Flints dreams of leaving have been postponed too long. The death of her father releases her to finally begin the long journey down to  the school for Wizards and Weirdlings. She knows she is a little too old and very late in starting her training as a Weedwise, but perseveres none the less. Only one day out, and things go badly awry for her.

The journey gets more complicated with every new encounter. Despite help from unexpected allies, she is left increasingly confused as she learns about the greater world. Neither the rich nor the powerful can answer the question that bothers her the most. If the god Dwyner gives his Guides powerful magic, and the god Bhanur gives his Hands the gift of healing, who gives Flint the ability to see into a persons soul?


I think you need to establish that Flint has this psychic gift earlier in the blurb and that she's searching desperately to know why she's this freak (because of her psychic gift) that doesn't fit in. So she takes on this journey to somehow understand and belong, even though she's too old and it's too late to start it. Define what a Weedwise is. Get specific with the actions.

Things go badly awry = She's spit on her first day attending class.

The journey gets complicated = Robbers steal all her money and leave her in a ditch

But she hangs on to this dream that one day she'll be able to belong and use her gift for good. But more disappointments follow and just when she thinks she'll never belong or find out why she has the psychic gift, she stumbles on a secret text (or something ) that shows her how the gods are bestowing their gifts of magic and healing on others. But still, will she ever find out who has gifted her?

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Offline Jack Krenneck

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2018, 02:55:05 PM »
I agree with the earlier comment that the blurb ends with a great hook.

I think what the rest of it needs, more than anything, is a hint at what the stakes are. Why does it all matter? I'm guessing the hook at the end ties in with this...

Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2018, 02:58:03 PM »
Thanks Greg. That isn't the way the story goes, which tells me I obviously haven't been clear. I definitely need to think about this some more.


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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2018, 03:06:40 PM »
I think what the rest of it needs, more than anything, is a hint at what the stakes are. Why does it all matter? I'm guessing the hook at the end ties in with this...

This is what I am having so much trouble with. Flint does have a unique skill, but she doesn't end up saving the world or anything. She has a series of adventures while she discovers things, which sounds kind of boring when I say it like that.

I've always used the formula - Protagonist must do ______ before / to stop  _____ happens / happening. But that doesn't work for this one. She isn't the savior or reluctant messiah.


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Offline Talia Vines

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2018, 03:21:45 PM »
Hi Alice!

Long time lurker here, nervously asking for blurb help for the first time.  This is a sort of coming of age / hero's journey story. Thanks.

Life is harsh in the <-- maybe a 1-2 word description of the type of town, to enhance setting. Ex: "shipyard" gives you a different flavor than "desert" town of Far Enough, <-- love this name! especially for a young woman alone. Flints dreams of leaving have been postponed too long. The death of her father releases her to finally begin the long journey down to  the school for Wizards and Weirdlings <-- <3. She knows she is a little too old and very late in starting her training as a Weedwise, but perseveres none the less. <-- so this is all set-up, some of which you need. But probably not this much.  See if you can whittle what you've got up until this point into a sentence, and then pop us with the action. I love the premise that she's a late start weirdling, and so things are going to be complicated for her Only one day out, and things go badly awry for her. <-- give us a specific, hopefully one that shows us what the main arc of the story will be.

The journey gets more complicated <-- tell us how with every new encounter. Despite help from unexpected allies, she is left increasingly confused as she learns about the greater world. Neither the rich nor the powerful can answer the question that bothers her the most. <-- this needs to be a lot more specific.  What bothers her the most? Who are the allies, and why is she confused?  All these pieces should help establish the stakes If the god Dwyner gives his Guides powerful magic, and the god Bhanur gives his Hands the gift of healing, who gives Flint the ability to see into a persons soul? <-- This end line doesn't yet pack a punch for me, as Dwyner, Bhanur, and Flint's abilities aren't mentioned until the very end, and so I don't know how they fit into the story, or what to make of them.  Following the way blurbs typically set expectations, I would expect from your first paragraph that Flint's late-to-the-scene underdog natures is going to somehow set her up to either save or lose the day.  If that's not part of the arc, maybe consider reworking (even though I love the idea of her being late start, if it goes nowhere, keeping it won't help the blurb get tight.) You've got some great flavor in here, keep working toward defining the main story problem, the stakes, and the hook.  Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 03:25:08 PM by Talia Vines »

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Offline C. Gold

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2018, 03:23:00 PM »
Why does she care which god gives her the power? Can she already use the power without that knowledge? Why does she NEED to know? What drives her? Is she going to show all the named god ones that she's just as valid as they are? Is she desperate to find the god's name to fit in? Why? That can easily be her goal instead of saving the world. After all, this is a discovery of who she is and why she has this power. You just have to make it sound more exciting ;)

Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2018, 03:24:00 PM »
Thanks Talia. That helps me focus a bit better.


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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2018, 03:26:56 PM »
Why does she care which god gives her the power? Can she already use the power without that knowledge? Why does she NEED to know? What drives her? Is she going to show all the named god ones that she's just as valid as they are? Is she desperate to find the god's name to fit in? Why? That can easily be her goal instead of saving the world. After all, this is a discovery of who she is and why she has this power. You just have to make it sound more exciting ;)

Yes. That's exactly it. It's her discovery. Thank you for reminding me. I think I'm starting to figure it out.


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Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2018, 03:43:46 PM »
Yeah, it's a bit vague.  I'm not sure what the plot's about.  Also, is "Flint" a first name or a last name?  I'd suggest using both first and last names when first mentioning her for the first time.  Assuming, of course, that she has both first and last names.

Good stuff from Talia Vines.   :)

I've always used the formula - Protagonist must do ______ before / to stop  _____ happens / happening. But that doesn't work for this one. She isn't the savior or reluctant messiah.

There's still a conflict, though, right?  Even if it's completely internal/psychological, there must be a conflict somewhere, or else you don't have a story.  You've just got setting description.  And if there's a conflict, then there must be stakes, too.  Tell us about the conflict and the stakes.  Why does Flint want to go to the wizard school?  To become a professional wizard?  Or is she just there to "learn about the greater world," whatever that means?  Why does her ability matter, and why does it matter where it came from?  Are there any villains?  If so, who are they, and why are they opposed to Flint?  What happens if Flint fails at whatever it is she's trying to do?  What happens if she succeeds?

It sounds like the "badly awry" part might be a turning point or a call to adventure or something.  Give us more details about that.

I agree with Gregg that the word "Weedwise" is troublesome.  I think explaining what it is, though, would likely bog the blurb down too much, so it's probably best to just use "wizard" or something instead.

Anyway, just my two cents.  Good luck.   :)
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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2018, 04:45:15 PM »
Thanks Jeff. More good advice.

I need to print out this whole thread and tinker with the blurb as I reread it all. I've got a bit of allergy-fog brain at the moment, so I need a clearer head before I start over.


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Offline CelinaSummers

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2018, 05:15:11 PM »
When I have a blurb that's causing me trouble (I work with my editorial clients a lot on blurbs and taglines) I always start out big. As writers, we instinctively feel that the reader has to see everything the way we do, or to know everything we know. When it comes to blurbs, we can get caught up in that which is what I see happening here.

So start off bigger if you need to. Write your way into it. And as with your writing, when you're done go through with a red pen and cut anything that is unnecessary for the reader to know. For example, the reader doesn't need to know that she runs into trouble (vaguely) on her way to study. What they need to know is what she wants to study, where she's going to study, why she's taking this on despite being too old. By the time you make that clear, you've established your character and her goals, which leads her (and the reader) to her conflict: her power is different from everyone else's and no one, not even your protag, knows where that power originated. Is it dangerous? Is it potentially evil? Does it frighten her? Is she more powerful than her peers or less powerful? How does this strange power impact her life...her hero's journey?

You can do this, Alice. You have all the components you need. :)

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Offline IWFerguson

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2018, 12:03:46 AM »
First I should say, that although the blurb needs lots of work, I'm looking forward to reading the book. I'm a big fan of coming-of-age fantasy, and this one sounds good to me.

What I noticed was at first, I had no trouble with the "Weedwise" term. I assumed it meant a person somewhere between a wizard and a weirdling (whatever that is), and with possibly a knack for growing things and/or using plants in magical ways. So the term is mysterious, but you've provided enough context that I'm making guesses, which means I'm filling in the details with what I want it to mean, so heck yeah, I want her to become the best Weedwise there is, because Weedwises are awesome.

But, the bummer comes when I find she can look into people's souls, so either I've guessed wrong about what a Weedwise is, or she's going to school to pursue something other than her special power which she needs to learn more about, which sounds complicated and I'm losing enthusiasm amid confusion.

However, I'm hoping a fresh wind blows the allergies away and you get this sorted out, because I really want to go to a school for weirdlings.
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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2018, 06:38:29 AM »
You guys are the best.

Celina, I was just thinking (in the shower) that I need to overwrite the blurb to whittle it down.

IWFergusin, thanks for the encouragement. A weedwise is basically an herbalist/wise woman sort of thing.

I've got the pay-the-bills job to do before I can tackle the next round. I'm absorbing all this advice and hoping it will percolate in my brain.




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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2018, 12:34:48 PM »
This still isn't working, but there's a lot more information here. I'm blaming allergy-brain for not being able to get out of my subplots. I keep recapping instead of giving an overview.

Feedback appreciated, thanks.

When Flint saw her fathers spirit fire start to fail, she knew he was dying. His death would release her to finally start a life of her own. Her plan was to journey down to the School for Wizards and Weirdlings. She wasnt a wizard, nor touched by any of the gods that granted magic. Shed been tested as a child and failed. And her one knack of spelling rocks to release heat, might not be enough for her to be considered a weirdling. So shed settled for the Weedwise program because she already had a good understanding of herbs, tinctures and salves from her mother.

She had lived all her life in Far Enough, a high desert town of scoundrels and rogues at the farthest edge of the kingdom. That and having six older brothers had prepared her to face almost anything. But the world was a lot more complicated than she imagined. And all her carefully laid plans were useless.

Before she could leave, she had to find her brother, Granite, who had inherited the familys debt-ridden farm. Her plans collapsed when she found Granite dying. She had to take him up to the god-touched healers in Ledge. And from there things just got more complicated. In a misguided effort to help, she shared the secret of her ability to see spirit fires. Not only did they not believe her, but claimed that she lied. She learned a painful lesson to keep her mouth shut.

With the help of her brothers, she finally starts the journey to the school. Her abilities to see spirit fires and sense elementals help her through some dangerous times on the road.

The school isnt what shed expected, but she is determined to make the most of it. But when she brought home a sick monster, she gets herself in enough trouble to catch the eye of the king. After witnessing a battle and a journey with a prince, she realizes that the only answers she will find must come from within. Neither the rich nor the powerful can answer the question that concerns her the most. If the god Dwyner gives his Guides powerful magic, and the god Bhanur gives his Hands the gift of healing, who gives Flint the unique ability to judge a persons soul?


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Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2018, 05:54:26 PM »
There's still way too much ambiguity, and I still don't understand the conflict.  Are the king and prince allies or enemies?  If the "gods" stuff is the main thrust of the story, then why isn't it mentioned until the very end? 

Here's a template for you.  It's just a starting point, and it's the best I can do until I better understand the conflict.  I've probably got it all wrong.   :-[  Anyway, see if you can fill in the blanks:

Quote
Flint McHeroine is a poor farm girl from a hardscrabble desert town called Far Enough.  She has a gift with herbs, and had always dreamed of going to school to pursue it, but the money was never there.  She contents herself to caring for her ailing father and helping her brothers with the farm chores.

One day, her father dies, leaving her orphaned, and she decides to take her chance.  She sets out for (city name) to begin her studies as an herbalist.  Her skill with herbs isn't her only one, though.  She has another ability, a secret one, and it isn't long before the wrong people find out about it.  Prince Covetous wants to use her for his own ends, and his plan would leave her enslaved forever.

Flint must learn to use her secret power skillfully and responsibly if she's ever to master it at all.  And she must learn in time to stave off Prince Covetous's ambitions.  But the key to learning isn't what she thinks, and the origin of her gift turns out to be more important than she can imagine.
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Offline C. Gold

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2018, 06:23:19 PM »
Nice one Jeff! I'd read that story. Let's hope Alice feels better and can fill in the details. :)

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2018, 09:09:58 PM »
Thanks, C.  :)

And Alice, I also hope you get to feeling better.  Being sick--allergies or otherwise--just ain't no fun at all.
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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2018, 06:58:26 AM »
Thanks, Jeff.

Now you've got me worried that the book has no conflict. It's more a case of her doing the wrong things in a series of situations or that her plans come to nothing.

I actually got a full night's sleep last night, so let me try another summary.

To go to the school she has to sell the farm and pay the debts (or somone will have her arrested). To sell the farm she has to find her reprobate brother, Granite, the heir, to sign papers giving permission for the sale. Granite is dying so she has to take him to the healers. That's a journey and some lessons.

She gets to school and realizes that all along she'd been hoping to be "Discovered" as having magic. So now what does she do? Being a Weedwise is easy but not perhaps her true dream.

The world is one of 9 planes. The gates to other planes have been closed, but Flint meets someone from another plane, Catbird. Since he is not of this world, he has magical enhancing abilities for this world. But the king's laws forbid him to work for money. The students at the school use his fur and feathers to amplify their skills. He's half starved and sick, so Flint takes him home.

Control of Catbird is a hot button issue that causes a crisis in the magical community. Soldiers and Mages arrive to deal with the issue. The Captain of the soldiers is another of her brothers, Steel, and things are tense for awhile. More Mages and the Prince arrive. for more debate. Just as things seem to be sorted, Catbird is kidnapped and a rift to a dangerous plane is opened.

A battle ensues. The enemy are pushed back through the rift and it is closed at great cost.  The villain escapes in the chaos, but Flint sees him. Then the Prince (& Steel) takes Flint and Catbird to meet the king. Another journey with a few discoveries. She is now doing research for the king on her abilities. Because it is so rare, she isn't finding much.

At the king's city she starts more research keeping a low profile. She overhears a conversation that sounds like someone is going to kill her. She flees the city only to get captured by the minions of the villain. She is locked up with another captive, who turns out to be the mage that can close rifts. She escapes with him. The villain is dealt with off stage while she explains to Steel why she fled.

She finally realizes that she cannot use her gift until she understands it more. Too many times she has told people what they don't want to hear because she spoke without full understanding. She proposes (to the king) to travel the world as a Weedwise to observe people's spirit fires and document those observations.

The book ends with her starting out on a journey with Catbird and another companion.

Okay - is this more informative?


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Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2018, 07:54:51 PM »
Okay, it sounds to me like Catbird is the McGuffin, and that Catbird's introduction into Flint's life is the "inciting event" of the story.  In fact, you basically say as much here:

Quote
Control of Catbird is a hot button issue that causes a crisis in the magical community. Soldiers and Mages arrive to deal with the issue.

All of a sudden, Flint is thrust into political intrigues.  This is the "Imperial Stormtroopers kill Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen" moment.  In a blurb, this is what you'd lay out right after introducing the main character.

So now for a few questions:

Quote
Catbird is kidnapped

By whom?  And why?

Quote
rift to a dangerous plane is opened

What makes it dangerous?

Quote
A battle ensues.

Who's fighting whom, and why?

Quote
The villain

What's his name?  What does he want?  Is he primarily after Catbird, or is he primarily after Flint?

Quote
The villain is dealt with off stage

So Flint's goal isn't necessarily to defeat the villain but rather to simply escape the city.  Right?

Quote
She finally realizes that she cannot use her gift until she understands it more. Too many times she has told people what they don't want to hear because she spoke without full understanding. She proposes (to the king) to travel the world as a Weedwise to observe people's spirit fires and document those observations.

So she has tried using her gift, but the results have been unfortunate, and the "main conflict" is her learning that she's not ready yet for the responsibility of her power. The climax is when she actually accepts that fact about herself.  So it's a "Man vs. Self" type of conflict.  Am I reading that right?  My brain's kind of mushy at the moment, so forgive me if I'm completely off-base.   ???

Anyway, I think we're making progress.   :)
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Offline AliceS

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2018, 07:34:45 AM »
Thanks for your persistence and patience! Answers below.


By whom?  And why?
Catbird is kidnapped by the villain to enhance his power and enable him to open a rift.

What makes it dangerous?
The occupants are dangerous. There is an army waiting for the rift to open. Catbird tells Flint it's a set up of some kind because armies aren't just waiting on the off chance of a rift opening.

Who's fighting whom, and why?
Nonhumans fighting humans. The villain is actually practicing his abilities. He is an unidentified wizard. The battle is a distraction but must be dealt with immediately. Flint is on the sidelines organizing help.

What's his name?  What does he want?  Is he primarily after Catbird, or is he primarily after Flint?
His identity is unknown in this book. He kidnapped Catbird for his blood which enhanced his ability allowing him to open the rift. The narrative is close 3rd person on Flint so we don't get to know much about this guy.

So Flint's goal isn't necessarily to defeat the villain but rather to simply escape the city.  Right?
Correct.

So she has tried using her gift, but the results have been unfortunate, and the "main conflict" is her learning that she's not ready yet for the responsibility of her power. The climax is when she actually accepts that fact about herself.  So it's a "Man vs. Self" type of conflict.  Am I reading that right?  My brain's kind of mushy at the moment, so forgive me if I'm completely off-base.   ???

Yes. The battle might be an external climax, but it comes about 3/4s of the way through. Her self discovery is the internal climax.

Anyway, I think we're making progress.   :)

Thanks so much for dragging this out of my brain.


Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery
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Offline Not Lu

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2018, 09:43:05 AM »
Alice, I'm not an author. I do marketing so I'm going to give you advice that is different than what you hear most often from other authors. A blurb has one major purpose -- to intrigue the reader enough that they take the next step in the sales process, which is buying the book or start reading the look inside. So, you don't want a great big summary full of details that no one is going to read. Instead, you want an extremely short hook that causes people to buy or look inside to sate their curiosity. After reading your summary I found three pieces of information that I thought were useful in creating your hook.

1. Flint can see into people's souls
2. She tries to help people with what she knows
3. It doesn't work out well because people don't want to hear what she has to say

With that information I'd start your blurb with something like.

Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.
She can change a life and even the world with her words.
She should have kept her mouth shut.

From here, you can add a tiny bit more detail, but I don't think it needs anything more than reinforcement that the genre is epic fantasy and that the reader is going to love the book so they should get it right now. Remember, the goal isn't to tell people everything the book is about. The goal is to get people to take the next step in the sales process. As a result, the less information the better if it piques curiosity.

Offline Talia Vines

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Re: Fantasy Blurb Help Please
« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2018, 10:38:13 AM »


Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.
She can change a life and even the world with her words.
She should have kept her mouth shut.


Dang, Not Lu, that is good!
.... Can I send you my blurb for retooling?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 10:40:37 AM by Talia Vines »

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