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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The last novel in The Black Douglas Trilogy, Not for Glory, is finished and even the edit is almost done, and I have no idea what to do with a blurb.

The outnumbered Scots triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn winning a stunning victory over a vast English army, and James is in military ascendence but miserable at home. He agreed to a marriage to Elayne daughter of the Marischal of Scotland to solidify the Marischal's loyalty to the crown, but their marriage is an utter failure. However much he tries, the young woman who grew up in England hates him for his ruthless and violent reputation with the English. But one good thing comes from the unhappy marriage, his son William. Worse, the defeated English refuse to make peace, forcing the war to go on. The English king doesn't care that James's raids into England both for loot to support the Scottish war effort and to try to pressure the English to the peace-table are brutalizing the English people and devastating the northern half of England. James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death. There is no sight of an end to the violence of war or of happiness at home, but James is not one to ever give up hope.

So that's more or less the story. HELP! :eek:
 
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This part could probably be excluded from the blurb:

The English king doesn't care that James's raids into England both for loot to support the Scottish war effort and to try to pressure the English to the peace-table are brutalizing the English people and devastating the northern half of England. James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death.

I could see these 2 sentences being condensed into one:

He agreed to a marriage to Elayne daughter of the Marischal of Scotland to solidify the Marischal's loyalty to the crown, but their marriage is an utter failure. However much he tries, the young woman who grew up in England hates him for his ruthless and violent reputation with the English.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
glutton said:
This part could probably be excluded from the blurb:

The English king doesn't care that James's raids into England both for loot to support the Scottish war effort and to try to pressure the English to the peace-table are brutalizing the English people and devastating the northern half of England. James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death.

I could see these 2 sentences being condensed into one:

He agreed to a marriage to Elayne daughter of the Marischal of Scotland to solidify the Marischal's loyalty to the crown, but their marriage is an utter failure. However much he tries, the young woman who grew up in England hates him for his ruthless and violent reputation with the English.
Well, that isn't really a blurb yet, just something I typed so people here would know the story. I have this vague hope that you guys will write it for me. ;)

I can't take out some mention of James's raids into England and the Scots trying to force the English to the peace-table. They're essential to telling what the plot is. In fact since this is military fiction, that is more important than the marriage bit. Without that, the fact that there is no end in sight of the war wouldn't make much sense. But I wasn't claiming that was a polished blurb, just giving the gist of the thing.

It probably needs to be totally re-worded and any suggestions on that are appreciated.

ETA: The marriage part definitely needs to be cut back from two sentences. That makes this come across as a romance which is definitely is NOT. The most recent review of A Kingdom's Cost referred to it as "brutal" and this is almost as much so.
 
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Maybe at least reword or exclude this part as it makes the MC sound pretty unsympathetic?

James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death.

Not sure if your audience would see it that way though, but that's my initial reaction.
 

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After the outnumbered Scots win a stunning victor over a vast English army at the Battle of Bannockburn, their leader James is in military ascendence, but miserable at home. He agreed to a marriage to Elayne, daughter of the Marischal of Scotland, to solidify the Marischal's loyalty to the crown. Their marriage is an utter failure. However much he tries, the young woman who grew up in England hates him for his ruthless and violent reputation with the English. But one good thing comes from the unhappy marriage, his son William (good because why?? put something interesting here to tie into the plot or leave the son out of the blurb).

Worse, the defeated English refuse to make peace, forcing the war to go on. (I would end it here with one sentence that tells what the Scots/James/the son William have at stake).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
glutton said:
Maybe at least reword or exclude this part as it makes the MC sound pretty unsympathetic?

James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death.

Not sure if your audience would see it that way though, but that's my initial reaction.
He's a warlord. My blurb for A Kingdom's Cost includes the line: He blazes a path in blood and violence, cunning and ruthlessness as he leads a guerrilla war to restore Scotland's freedom. I suspect that sounds even more unsympathetic. :D

Mind you, he doesn't kill a LOT of people himself. He just burns or takes their crops so they starve. Even the English admitted that if people didn't resist, he didn't kill them, which made him fairly nice by medieval war standards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
HAGrant said:
After the outnumbered Scots win a stunning victor over a vast English army at the Battle of Bannockburn, their leader James is in military ascendence, but miserable at home. He agreed to a marriage to Elayne, daughter of the Marischal of Scotland, to solidify the Marischal's loyalty to the crown. Their marriage is an utter failure. However much he tries, the young woman who grew up in England hates him for his ruthless and violent reputation with the English. But one good thing comes from the unhappy marriage, his son William (good because why?? put something interesting here to tie into the plot or leave the son out of the blurb).

Worse, the defeated English refuse to make peace, forcing the war to go on. (I would end it here with one sentence that tells what the Scots/James/the son William have at stake).
Don't most people consider having a child a good thing? He loves his son.

I'm afraid that sounds WAY too much like a romance. I might should leave out the marriage entirely. This is not a historical romance and it is disastrous to give the impression it is. Romance readers would seriously hate this novel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sorry. Entirely my fault. Obviously, by putting in the part about the marriage I made this sound like a romance and got the thing totally on the wrong track. I appreciate the suggestions VERY MUCH. But ouch, it just can't sound like a romance. Let's try without that.

The outnumbered Scots triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn winning a stunning victory over a vast English army, and James is in military ascendance although at home he has found little happiness. In order to force the English to the peace-table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death. But the English king instead brings another army north to again try to conquer Scotland. There is no sight of an end to the violence of war, but James is not one to ever give up hope.
 
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JRTomlin said:
He's a warlord. My blurb for A Kingdom's Cost includes the line: He blazes a path in blood and violence, cunning and ruthlessness as he leads a guerrilla war to restore Scotland's freedom. I suspect that sounds even more unsympathetic. :D
That sounds more sympathetic since it includes a motivation of "freedom!" ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
glutton said:
That sounds more sympathetic since it includes a motivation of "freedom!" ;)
So you don't consider forcing an enemy to the peace-table a good motivation?

Anyway, the mention of raids into England has to stay. They're essential. The marriage isn't. It's a subplot. :)

ETA: I'm happy to get suggestions to make it sound more sympathetic, but it is simply essential. What is considered sympathetic in war fiction may be somewhat different. People are expected to do their duty. This is his.
 
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JRTomlin said:
So you don't consider forcing an enemy to the peace-table a good motivation?

Anyway, the mention of raids into England has to stay. They're essential. The marriage isn't. It's a subplot. :)

ETA: I'm happy to get suggestions to make it sound more sympathetic, but it is simply essential. What is considered sympathetic in war fiction may be somewhat different. People are expected to do their duty. This is his.
The second version sounds better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It is just too short and being sympathetic is not necessarily that important. If you read the description of Bernard Cornwell's 1356, I don't find the main character's situation in the least sympathetic. The English are burning and pillaging the French countryside, but it's ok because -- well, because he's the main character.

ETA: Honestly, I don't know what to do with this thing. I don't think what I have is going to sell it.

 

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JRTomlin said:
Sorry. Entirely my fault. Obviously, by putting in the part about the marriage I made this sound like a romance and got the thing totally on the wrong track. I appreciate the suggestions VERY MUCH. But ouch, it just can't sound like a romance. Let's try without that.

The outnumbered Scots triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn winning a stunning victory over a vast English army, and James is in military ascendance although at home he has found little happiness. In order to force the English to the peace-table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death. But the English king instead brings another army north to again try to conquer Scotland. There is no sight of an end to the violence of war, but James is not one to ever give up hope.
The outnumbered Scots triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn, winning a stunning victory over a vast English army. Their leader/his title, James, is in military ascendance, although at home he has found little happiness. In order to force the English to the peace table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death. But the English king instead brings another army north to again try to conquer Scotland. James rides over the blood-soaked fields to meet them, not one to ever give up hope.

I would close with something more specific than "violence," like blood-soaked fields or some other details that apply to the story. I wouldn't put a hyphen in peace table. I would add James's title or role.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
HAGrant said:
The outnumbered Scots triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn, winning a stunning victory over a vast English army. Their leader/his title, James, is in military ascendance, although at home he has found little happiness. In order to force the English to the peace table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death. But the English king instead brings another army north to again try to conquer Scotland. James rides over the blood-soaked fields to meet them, not one to ever give up hope.

I would close with something more specific than "violence," like blood-soaked fields or some other details that apply to the story. I wouldn't put a hyphen in peace table. I would add James's title or role.
He is not their leader. The King of the Scots is their leader. :)

I knew this was going to be a tough blurb to get anywhere with. I appreciate the suggestions. What happened when the English brought another army to Scotland, the Scots burned Scotland from Dunbar to the Irish Sea so the English army was starving, and James took his army south to attack York, where the English queen was, so no "riding to meet them over blood soaked fields". In a panic, the English came back to try to cut James off from Scotland, but he took the route on the west of the Pennines and was home before they got there leaving England smoking and a ruin again.

And he was James, Lord of Douglas which is why the English called him "The Black Douglas". :)

How about this?

June, 1314. All over Scotland, crops are burning and people have fled. The English army led by the English King Edward has invaded, and the Scots meet them in an epic battle at the waters of the Bannockburn. When the time the battle is over James, Lord of Douglas, emerges a hero and has his orders from his liege lord, Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots. In order to force the English to the peace table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking burning and devastation. But the English king instead brings another army north to again try to conquer Scotland. With the city of Berwick under siege and Scotland once again facing conquest, James will do anything, whether honorable or not, to preserve Scotland's freedom.

Better? Worse?
 

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I would still add James's role... a Scottish soldier, for example, or Scottish farmer who has taken up arms, etc. It helps the reader to see him. I would also try to end it with a hook. My two cents.  :p
 

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JRTomlin said:
What happened when the English brought another army to Scotland, the Scots burned Scotland from Dunbar to the Irish Sea so the English army was starving, and James took his army south to attack York, where the English queen was, so no "riding to meet them over blood soaked fields". In a panic, the English came back to try to cut James off from Scotland, but he took the route on the west of the Pennines and was home before they got there leaving England smoking and a ruin again.

And he was James, Lord of Douglas which is why the English called him "The Black Douglas". :)
This is all good... I would work with this. You added some interesting specifics.
 

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JRTomlin said:
Sorry. Entirely my fault. Obviously, by putting in the part about the marriage I made this sound like a romance and got the thing totally on the wrong track. I appreciate the suggestions VERY MUCH. But ouch, it just can't sound like a romance. Let's try without that.

The outnumbered Scots triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn winning a stunning victory over a vast English army, and James is in military ascendance although at home he has found little happiness. In order to force the English to the peace-table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, wrecking devastation and death. But the English king instead brings another army north to again try to conquer Scotland. There is no sight of an end to the violence of war, but James is not one to ever give up hope.
wreaking
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
HAGrant said:
I would still add James's role... a Scottish soldier, for example, or Scottish farmer who has taken up arms, etc. It helps the reader to see him. I would also try to end it with a hook. My two cents. :p
He is a warlord. Lord of Douglas, Lord Warden of the Scottish Marches. (Among a number of other titles but those were his main ones)

ETA: I agree that a hook is good, but writing one isn't so easy. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Cherise Kelley said:
You're right. The correct verb is wreak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sheesh, I hate writing these things. How about this?

All over Scotland, crops are burning and people have fled. The English army led by King Edward has invaded, and the Scots meet them in an epic battle at the waters of the Bannockburn. When the battle is over James, Lord of Douglas, emerges a hero and has his orders from his liege lord, Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots. In order to force the English to the peace table, James sweeps through the north of England like a storm, burning and wreaking devastation. But the English king instead brings another army north to try to conquer Scotland. With the city of Berwick under siege and Scotland yet again facing conquest, James takes a desperate risk. He leads his army south to York in an attempt to capture the English queen. When the outnumbered Scots seem to be trapped, James and his men, his enemies, and the fate of Scotland meet at a apex of violence and heroism.

ETA: Yes, I am doing this on the fly. It seems to be the only way I can do these darn things. ::)

That may work even though that last sentence isn't quite what happens since they weren't really trapped. Trapping the Black Douglas wasn't easy to do. ;)
 
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