Author Topic: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?  (Read 609 times)  

Offline Gregg Bell

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Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
« on: April 12, 2017, 07:22:19 pm »
The book is called Bloody Sunrise. Thanks!


Denny O'Callaghan is afraid to open his eyes.

He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head throbs, his arms hurt, and he can't remember what he's done.

He opens his eyes. Blood. On his sheets. His pillowcase.

Then he gets a call: his ex-wife was murdered last night.

He desperately tries to piece together what happened. But he can't explain how he got the scratches on his arms, the police want to know about the domestic violence report his ex filed against him, and his buddies say he was raging against her last night before he stormed off on his own.

Right about the time she was murdered.

"When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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    Offline Sarah Shaw

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 03:08:16 am »
    This looks pretty good. But is there some way you can make us care more about Denny O'Callaghan? Because murderer or not, he doesn't seem like a very sympathetic character from this description.

    Offline Jonathan C. Gillespie

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 05:36:43 am »
    I'm a stickler for this kind of thing, but I don't care for the double mention of "eyes". I think we need to juice up everything in general to bring up the heat a notch. If I may suggest something like this, which will hopefully address Sarah's justified concern as well:

    Denny O'Callaghan just got his life back together after a nasty divorce with Kaitlin, and a job search that seemed unending. After years of screwing up, finally things were turning around. Finally he's gotten control of himself. What better way to celebrate than spending a night with the guys?

    But now it's the next morning.

    And he's in sheets stained in crimson. His body is bruised and covered in cuts. And the phone has rung in the middle of this, and his best friend is asking where he is.

    Because someone stabbed Kaitlin to death last night, he says. There was blood everywhere at the crime scene. And the cops are on the way to ask Danny where he was at the time. His friends say he left the bar, raging about her. With murder in his eyes.
    « Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 05:40:53 am by Jonathan C. Gillespie »


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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 09:12:55 am »
    This looks pretty good. But is there some way you can make us care more about Denny O'Callaghan? Because murderer or not, he doesn't seem like a very sympathetic character from this description.

    You're right, Sarah. I did a version before this one that makes him a little more like-able.


    Denny O'Callaghan can't remember a thing after a night out drinking with his fellow firemen. Oh, he'd blacked out before but funny, this time he didn't even drink that much. And there's blood on his bedsheets and scratches on his arms.
     
    Then Denny gets a call: his ex-wife was murdered last night.
     
    He and his ex had a troubled relationship, but he loved her deeply--he still loves her--and he'll do anything he can to help the authorities find her killer. But they ask him about the police report she'd filed against him for domestic violence and say that her family saw him abuse her.
     
    Denny knows his former in-laws are lying. He never abused her and never would've killed her--even drunk--and he sets out to piece together what happened to find her killer. But he can't explain how he got the scratches on his arms. And he did hate that his ex was sleeping with one of the other firemen. And the guys he was out drinking with say he was raging against her last night before he stormed off on his own.
     
    Right about the time she was murdered.

    "When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 09:17:05 am »
    I'm a stickler for this kind of thing, but I don't care for the double mention of "eyes". I think we need to juice up everything in general to bring up the heat a notch. If I may suggest something like this, which will hopefully address Sarah's justified concern as well:

    Denny O'Callaghan just got his life back together after a nasty divorce with Kaitlin, and a job search that seemed unending. After years of screwing up, finally things were turning around. Finally he's gotten control of himself. What better way to celebrate than spending a night with the guys?

    But now it's the next morning.

    And he's in sheets stained in crimson. His body is bruised and covered in cuts. And the phone has rung in the middle of this, and his best friend is asking where he is.

    Because someone stabbed Kaitlin to death last night, he says. There was blood everywhere at the crime scene. And the cops are on the way to ask Danny where he was at the time. His friends say he left the bar, raging about her. With murder in his eyes.

    Thanks Jonathan. That's really good. Some of it's not my story but it definitely makes Denny more sympathetic. I think I can incorporate parts of it. Appreciate it!

    "When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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    Offline lemonadegrenade

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #5 on: April 13, 2017, 10:57:35 am »
    I am not a published author so maybe take this with a pinch of salt:

    1) The tenses used in the first two sentences didn't quite seem to go together to me. So if the book is written in the past then maybe this instead:

      Denny O'Callaghan was afraid to open his eyes.

      He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head was throbbing, his arms hurt, and he couldn't remember what he'd done.

      He opened his eyes. Blood. On his sheets. His pillowcase.

      Then he got a call: his ex-wife was murdered last night.

      He was desperately trying to piece together what happened. But he couldn't explain how he got the scratches on his arms, the police wanted to know about the domestic violence report his ex filed against him,
      and his buddies said he was raging against her last night before he stormed off on his own.

      Right about the time she was murdered.

    2) I'm cursed with prolixity myself, but I can see the virtue of keeping things concise in this quick fire information age. People don't dedicate so much time to these things as they used to. So I'd be tempted to make it snappier:

      Denny O'Callaghan awakens after a hard night of drinking with the guys.

      The only thing more alarming than the blood soaked sheets and the scratches up his arms, is the fact that he can't even remember how the night ended.

      Just when he thought things couldn't get worse, the cops call saying his wife was murdered last night and they want to talk to him about the abuse she reported before her death.

    That could probably be better but I don't have much time. Good luck - it sounds like an exciting novel.
    David.

    Offline TromboneAl

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 10:57:47 am »
    I like it.

    When I read it a second time, I had this question: Why is he afraid to open his eyes? He just has a hangover at that point, so there's no good reason to be afraid to open his eyes unless he fears it will make his hangover worse.

    Sarah has a good point. so, maybe start like this:

    Before Denny O'Callaghan opened his eyes, he did some thinking. He'd just gotten his life together after a nasty divorce--after years of screwing up, things were finally turning around. He deserved that night out with the boys, didn't he?

    >Oh, he'd blacked out before but funny, this time he didn't even drink that much.
    Don't add that back, because it's too much of a spoiler. It tells me someone doctored his drink.



     
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    Offline Decon

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #7 on: April 13, 2017, 11:49:16 am »
    Here's my version to keep alive the notion of possible innocence. Any mention of abuse at this stage would turn a reader off the MC. All in present tense. It also doesn't give anything away, but poses an "either, or" question as to what is to come, which the reader will only find out by reading on.



    Cracking open his eyes to his phone ringing on the nightstand, Danny notices his body is bruised and covered in cuts. Worse, his bedding is stained with what appears to be blood.
     
    He snatches the handset and listens to the caller, then the phone slips from his grip. Someone has stabbed his ex, Kaitlin to death the night before. The cops are on the way to ask Danny where he was at the time. His friend said he left the bar angry after they goaded him about his divorce and they've told officers they'd not seen him since. Danny can't even remember leaving the bar.

    He wonders if it's some kind of prank his friends are playing on him after celebrating getting his life back together following a bitter divorce from his ex, and a job search that seemed unending. If it is a sick joke, they have gone too far this time. If it isn't, then knows he is about to live a nightmare.
    « Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 02:12:32 pm by Decon »


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    Offline Catherine Lea

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #8 on: April 13, 2017, 01:24:47 pm »
    The book is called Bloody Sunrise. Thanks!


    Denny O'Callaghan is afraid to open his eyes.

    He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head throbs, his arms hurt, and he can't remember what he's done.

    He opens his eyes. Blood. On his sheets. His pillowcase.

    Then he gets a call: his ex-wife was murdered last night.

    He desperately tries to piece together what happened. But he can't explain how he got the scratches on his arms, the police want to know about the domestic violence report his ex filed against him, and his buddies say he was raging against her last night before he stormed off on his own.

    Right about the time she was murdered.
    I read a lot of thrillers and I actually prefer this one. It feels less forced and I think we put too much emphasis on making the reader like the MC in the blurb. This makes me want to know what happened. Who cares if you love him or not.


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    Offline Sarah Shaw

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 01:56:21 pm »
    I read a lot of thrillers and I actually prefer this one. It feels less forced and I think we put too much emphasis on making the reader like the MC in the blurb. This makes me want to know what happened. Who cares if you love him or not.

    I agree that the first one reads the best so far. I was just thinking of some slight tweak- maybe take out the reference to domestic abuse and just say the police are looking for him.

    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #10 on: April 13, 2017, 03:12:37 pm »
    I am not a published author so maybe take this with a pinch of salt:

    1) The tenses used in the first two sentences didn't quite seem to go together to me. So if the book is written in the past then maybe this instead:

      Denny O'Callaghan was afraid to open his eyes.

      He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head was throbbing, his arms hurt, and he couldn't remember what he'd done.

      He opened his eyes. Blood. On his sheets. His pillowcase.

      Then he got a call: his ex-wife was murdered last night.

      He was desperately trying to piece together what happened. But he couldn't explain how he got the scratches on his arms, the police wanted to know about the domestic violence report his ex filed against him,
      and his buddies said he was raging against her last night before he stormed off on his own.

      Right about the time she was murdered.

    2) I'm cursed with prolixity myself, but I can see the virtue of keeping things concise in this quick fire information age. People don't dedicate so much time to these things as they used to. So I'd be tempted to make it snappier:

      Denny O'Callaghan awakens after a hard night of drinking with the guys.

      The only thing more alarming than the blood soaked sheets and the scratches up his arms, is the fact that he can't even remember how the night ended.

      Just when he thought things couldn't get worse, the cops call saying his wife was murdered last night and they want to talk to him about the abuse she reported before her death.

    That could probably be better but I don't have much time. Good luck - it sounds like an exciting novel.
    David.


    Thanks a lot, lemonadegrenade. You know what's funny is I thought this blurb was so minimalist. (I would've never considered it prolix.) Thanks for you take on it. Appreciate it.

    "When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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    Offline lemonadegrenade

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #11 on: April 13, 2017, 03:23:17 pm »
    Thanks a lot, lemonadegrenade. You know what's funny is I thought this blurb was so minimalist. (I would've never considered it prolix.) Thanks for you take on it. Appreciate it.
    Well you know what Gregg, you probably have more experience in this field than I do, so maybe just ignore what I said there. I was just taking a guess really.
    I hope I didn't offend you there. I was just trying to find one I could answer on the board so it wasn't all one way if you know what I mean.
    Cheers
    David.

    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #12 on: April 13, 2017, 03:41:30 pm »
    Well you know what Gregg, you probably have more experience in this field than I do, so maybe just ignore what I said there. I was just taking a guess really.
    I hope I didn't offend you there. I was just trying to find one I could answer on the board so it wasn't all one way if you know what I mean.
    Cheers
    David.

    Gosh, no, David. No offense taken. I'm sincerely grateful for the help.

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    Offline lemonadegrenade

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #13 on: April 13, 2017, 03:48:03 pm »
    Gosh, no, David. No offense taken. I'm sincerely grateful for the help.
    Oh good. I'm glad. Well I've never written a blurb before so seriously - what do I know. I would see what everyone else says. It was a bit ambitious me advising on that.
    Cheers
    David.

    Offline VayneLine

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #14 on: April 13, 2017, 04:01:56 pm »
    I dont like 'scratches', go with cuts or gashes, sounds worse.

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #15 on: April 13, 2017, 04:08:21 pm »
    I like it.

    When I read it a second time, I had this question: Why is he afraid to open his eyes? He just has a hangover at that point, so there's no good reason to be afraid to open his eyes unless he fears it will make his hangover worse.

    Sarah has a good point. so, maybe start like this:

    Before Denny O'Callaghan opened his eyes, he did some thinking. He'd just gotten his life together after a nasty divorce--after years of screwing up, things were finally turning around. He deserved that night out with the boys, didn't he?

    >Oh, he'd blacked out before but funny, this time he didn't even drink that much.
    Don't add that back, because it's too much of a spoiler. It tells me someone doctored his drink.





    Thanks Al. Good catch on the not drinking too much being a spoiler. I never thought of that.

    And your new opening is excellent (thanks!). I just wonder if I really need it, and I'm afraid of losing the punchiness and hookiness of the first line (Denny O'Callaghan was afraid to open his eyes.).

    But I don't see Denny as having just a hangover. Yes, the physical symptoms may be just a hangover but the not being able to remember what he's done makes it far worse than a simple hangover. He's hashing over in his mind's eye the last thing he remembers doing and then, in terror, speculating about what he might have done after that. And also he's wondering where he might wake up.

    Still I think amping up the physical symptoms couldn't hurt. How about the below change?

    He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head throbs, his arms hurt, and he can't remember what he's done.
    to
    He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head throbs, his arms burn, and he can't remember what he's done.
    or
    He'd been out drinking last night with the guys, and his head throbs, his arms sting, and he can't remember what he's done.

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #16 on: April 13, 2017, 04:28:08 pm »
    Here's my version to keep alive the notion of possible innocence. Any mention of abuse at this stage would turn a reader off the MC. All in present tense. It also doesn't give anything away, but poses an "either, or" question as to what is to come, which the reader will only find out by reading on.



    Cracking open his eyes to his phone ringing on the nightstand, Danny notices his body is bruised and covered in cuts. Worse, his bedding is stained with what appears to be blood.
     
    He snatches the handset and listens to the caller, then the phone slips from his grip. Someone has stabbed his ex, Kaitlin to death the night before. The cops are on the way to ask Danny where he was at the time. His friend said he left the bar angry after they goaded him about his divorce and they've told officers they'd not seen him since. Danny can't even remember leaving the bar.

    He wonders if it's some kind of prank his friends are playing on him after celebrating getting his life back together following a bitter divorce from his ex, and a job search that seemed unending. If it is a sick joke, they have gone too far this time. If it isn't, then knows he is about to live a nightmare.


    Thanks a lot Decon. That's a really cool version. Interestingly, (in the book) he does wonder if it's prank. He even at one point insists on seeing her body to confirm she's dead. Love the phone slipping from his grip and the 'about to live a nightmare' ending. On the other hand, you renamed my MC but I forgive you. ;)

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #17 on: April 13, 2017, 04:33:20 pm »
    I read a lot of thrillers and I actually prefer this one. It feels less forced and I think we put too much emphasis on making the reader like the MC in the blurb. This makes me want to know what happened. Who cares if you love him or not.

    Thanks a lot, Catherine. I'm with you. I don't look for likeability in a blurb. Maybe I would somewhat in a different genre but for a thriller, it's like you said, one question is key: 'Do I want to know what happens?' Thanks. Your feedback calmed me down.  :)

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
    « Reply #18 on: April 13, 2017, 04:37:06 pm »
    I dont like 'scratches', go with cuts or gashes, sounds worse.

    Thanks VayneLine. Yep, they're definitely worse. Not sure though. When fending off an attack without a weapon the attacker usually doesn't get cuts or gashes. Maybe cuts but not gashes but more than likely scratches.

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