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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all... I suck at blurbage.

Second... this project is a real BEAST to summarize because it's both dark and funny.  It's also first person, and the voice is a very big part of the work.  Maggie talks directly to the reader here and there through the novel.  So I wanted to write the blurb in first person. I thought it might help show both facets: light and dark.

Only I have re-written it a gagillion times and it still isn't working.

Help??

This is what I have.

BLURB FOR CRY UNCLE:

I was having a decent Thursday until my dad called to tell me my uncle had blown up.
That was when things started getting seriously interesting.

Denny Johnson was dead. After poking an old mine, he'd been scattered all over the
sandy shores of Massacre Island, proving that irony was, indeed, a harsh mistress.
But when they'd gathered on the beach to gather up Denny, they'd found some spare
parts. Bodies...

After twenty five years the unsolved cases of three girls who'd disappeared may be
solved. They were "difficult" children, odd little girls, strange kids who had always
been misunderstood. Now their skeletons had fallen out of the closet. For twenty five
years they'd been forgotten...

Almost. I'd never forgotten. Their faces had haunted me through the years. Their names
were written on my soul. They'd driven me to become a forensic psycholgist, profiler,
truth seeker.

Now the little lost girls of Crow Point had been found. It was time to lay them to rest.
It was time to solve the mystery of their murders.

I'm Maggie Gallagher. I'm not a little girl anymore. Nightmares lurk in sleepy little
towns like Crow Point. But I'm not afraid of the dark. I've got a badge, a gun, a
bat-sh*t crazy family, and a chip on my shoulder.

It's time to cry UNCLE.

_______________________________________

I know.  I KNOW.  It's awful.  Help??  Please??
 

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You have a hard one. It's clearly too long, and it isn't easy to shorten. I'll try my hand at it:

I was having a decent Thursday until my dad called to tell me my uncle had blown up.
But that was only the beginning.

After twenty five years the unsolved cases of three girls who'd disappeared may be
solved. They were "difficult" children, odd little girls, strange kids who had always
been misunderstood. Now their skeletons had fallen out of the closet.

Now the little lost girls of Crow Point had been found. It was time to lay them to rest.
It was time to solve the mystery of their murders.

I'm Maggie Gallagher. I'm not a little girl anymore. Nightmares lurk in sleepy little
towns like Crow Point. But I'm not afraid of the dark. I've got a badge, a gun, a
bat-sh*t crazy family, and a chip on my shoulder.

It's time to cry UNCLE.



I generally try to keep a blurb three paragraphs long at most, but I don't see how it's possible to shorten it further. The last part seems essential to me.
 

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I was having a decent Thursday until my dad called to tell me that my uncle had blown up. That sort of news can put a real crimp in one’s day

Denny Johnson was dead. After poking an old mine, he'd been scattered all over the sandy shores of Massacre Island, proving that irony was, indeed, a harsh mistress. However, when they'd gathered on the beach to gather up Denny, they'd found some spare parts. Rather bodies...

After twenty-five years, the unsolved cases of three girls who'd disappeared may be
solved. They were "difficult" children, odd little girls, strange kids who had always
been misunderstood. Now their skeletons had fallen out of the closet. For twenty-five years, they'd been forgotten...

Well, almost. I'd never forgotten. Their faces had haunted me through the years. Their names were written on my soul. They'd driven me to become a forensic psychologist, profiler, truth seeker.

Now the little lost girls of Crow Point had been found. It was time to lay them to rest. It was time to solve the mystery of their murders, and find the bastards responsible.

I'm Maggie Gallagher. I'm not a little girl anymore. Nightmares lurk in sleepy little
towns like Crow Point. But I'm not afraid of the dark. I have a badge, a gun, a
bat-sh*t crazy family, and a chip on my shoulder.

It's time to cry UNCLE.


I think your blurb was very good to begin with, so I've only added a couple of things and deleted a couple as well.

Carl
 

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Well, first I would suggest ditching the first-person narrative. The reason being, I think blurbs are never done this way because it's too confusing for the buyer--are they reading the character's thoughts, or the author's? I think blurbs are EXPECTED to be a certain way because of this, so unless you can *srsly* pull it off, stick to what works.

And that may be what's tripping you up.

Here is my suggestion for how you might approach this, however, keeping in mind I'm a stand-up comic and comedic author, so this might be the fuel you need:

"Maggie? Don't set a place for Uncle Denny tonight."

I was stunned. Denny never missed a Thursday-evening meal. "Why not?"

"He blowed up."

[This immediately sets the tone as being humorous (AND opens with a great hook for interesting the reader), and gets rid of extra words AND is a minature joke with a proper set-up/punch. One way humour writers make easy mistakes with this sort of thing is that they think interjecting jokes will make it funny, but it just makes it sad. My friend Bill Engvall said when you're writing comedy, the number one rule he adheres to is to "cut the fat." Comedy works with extreme specificity (details) and brevity, so your word choice MUST be at a premium.]

They found him dead on Massacre Island. (You just don't need the details about the mine or sand or bunny fluff or any of that.) But when they went to identify the parts, he turned up with some spare ones, which was fitting, since he could never put anything back together without a few extra pieces. (Another joke and one that may enlighten the reader as to his character AND the way Maggie feels about him.)

They had turned out to be from a twenty-five-year-old unsolved missing children case that I simply couldn't forget, which was probably the main reason I became a Forensic Psychologist. (I really condensed this and didn't lose anything except a lot of extra words you didn't need.)

Now that I'm an adult, no longer afraid of the dark, with a badge, packing serious heat I won't hesitate to use on my batshit crazy family and a big-ass chip on my shoulder, it's time to lay these girls to rest. (And, condensed, but this time I added needed rhythm to make it funnier. When writing comedy, even fiction, you need to be cognisant of rhythm since you're not delivering the line live; rhythm makes up for much-needed timing.)

It's time to cry UNCLE.

I think your first version was just too full of unneeded narrative.

I hope you like it.

So, here it is without my commentary interjected:

------------------------
"Maggie? Don't set a place for Uncle Denny tonight."

I was stunned. Denny never missed a Thursday-evening meal. "Why not?"

"He blowed up."

They found him dead on Massacre Island. But when they went to identify the parts, he turned up with some spare ones, which was fitting, since he could never put anything back together without a few extra pieces.

They had turned out to be from a twenty-five-year-old unsolved missing children case that I simply couldn't forget, which was probably the main reason I became a Forensic Psychologist.

Now that I'm an adult, no longer afraid of the dark, with a badge, packing serious heat I won't hesitate to use on my batshit crazy family and a big-ass chip on my shoulder, it's time to lay these girls to rest.

It's time to cry UNCLE.
 

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I was having a decent Thursday when my dad called to tell me my uncle had blown up. His body was found scattered all over an old Massacre Island mine. But he wasn't alone, the remains of three girls were found with him.

I remember them. Their faces have haunted me for 25 years. They'd driven me to become a forensic psycholgist, profiler, truth seeker.

I'm Maggie Gallagher. I'm not a little girl anymore. I've got a badge, a gun, a bat-sh*t crazy family, and a chip on my shoulder.
 

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I think your general approach is right. You just need to tighten it up to give it the proper punch.

---

My uncle was dead. Blown up. The harsh mistress irony had scattered him all over the sandy shores of Massacre Island.

But when they gathered on the beach to gather up Danny, that's not all they found: There were too many spare parts and three extra bodies. It was twenty-five years late, but the little lost girls of Crow Point had been found at last. They had been odd little girls; strange little kids who were always misunderstood and had now been long forgotten...

Except by me. I'd refused to forget. Their faces had haunted me through the years. Their names were written on their soul. They'd driven me to become a forensic psychologist, a profiler, and a truth seeker. Now their skeletons have fallen out of the closet, and its time to lay them to rest. I'm not a little girl any more. I'm not afraid of the dark. I've got a badge, a gun, and a family full of crazy.

I'm Maggie Gallagher.

And it's time to cry UNCLE.

---

I think that's pretty solid. (You might want to take a look at the repetition of "little" in the second paragraph.) But if you want to make it even shorter:

---

My uncle was dead. Blown up. The harsh mistress irony had scattered him all over the sandy shores of Massacre Island.

But when they gathered on the beach to gather up Danny, that's not all they found: There were too many spare parts and three extra bodies. It was twenty-five years late, but the little lost girls of Crow Point had been found at last. Their faces had haunted me through the years. Their names were written on their soul. They'd driven me to become a forensic psychologist, a profiler, and a truth seeker. But now their skeletons have fallen out of the closet, and its time to lay them to rest. I'm not a little girl any more. I'm not afraid of the dark. I've got a badge, a gun, and a family full of crazy.

I'm Maggie Gallagher.

And it's time to cry UNCLE.

---

Hope that helped.
 

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I will do my best to assist. I will make comments directly following specific lines, then at the bottom, write my suggested revised version all together as a single blurb. I hope this is helpful and not presumptuous.

oliewankanobe said:
I was having a decent Thursday until my dad called to tell me my uncle had blown up.
That was when things started getting seriously interesting.
Remove the second sentence. It is redundant as you are about to explain how they get interesting in the following sentences.

Part of me wants to say to change "blown up" to simply "died." The reader will learn the "blown up" part in a following sentence.

oliewankanobe said:
Denny Johnson was dead. After poking an old mine, he'd been scattered all over the
sandy shores of Massacre Island, proving that irony was, indeed, a harsh mistress.
But when they'd gathered on the beach to gather up Denny, they'd found some spare
parts. Bodies...
Part of me wants to suggest removing the line "Denny Johnson was dead" and instead suggest integrating it with the following line since, separately, they seem redundant. However, I like the direct punch of "Denny Johnson was dead." So, let me stew over this until I get to the end.

I very much suggest removing "proving that irony was, indeed, a harsh mistress." I cannot see any promising purpose to this part of the line. First, it's cliché. I took into account that you are trying to exemplify the character's voice with it and even then it doesn't bode well. While the character may be prone to such dialogue or narrative voice, and it may well fit just fine within the contexts of the story, advertising it so blatantly in the blurb may turn a potential reader off. I believe this doubly since I cannot see what is so ironic about being blown up after poking an old mine. This may be clarified more in the context of the story, but in the blurb, it is not.

I'd slightly reword the sentence about recovering Denny's body quite a bit. First, you repeat the word "gather" twice within the same sentence, even before the comma. This type of repetition comes off as amateurish to many readers and will thus turn them off. Also, who are "they"?

I'd remove the "Bodies…" part. This is redundant as it is clearly inferred already by the previous line and further explored in the following paragraph.

oliewankanobe said:
After twenty five years the unsolved cases of three girls who'd disappeared may be
solved. They were "difficult" children, odd little girls, strange kids who had always
been misunderstood. Now their skeletons had fallen out of the closet. For twenty five
years they'd been forgotten...
The first sentence of this paragraph is clunky. Read it out loud and you will hear it.

I would remove the quotations around "difficult" in the second sentence. Actually, I'm not sure why you are even using this sentence here. Why is it important for the reader to know this before reading the book? Was the investigation into these deaths dropped because of the reputation of these kids? If so, that should be better clarified. If it's not, then the actual reason it's important to know right here should be illuminated more properly.

"Now their skeletons had fallen out of the closet" needs to be discarded for at least two reasons. One, it is again a cliché. Two, it's a poorly used cliché metaphor since you just stated that their skeletons were discovered on the beach (not in a closet).

"For twenty five years they'd been forgotten…" is redundant. You started the paragraph with this information. Also, you need a hyphen linking "twenty" and "five" (in both instances).

oliewankanobe said:
Almost. I'd never forgotten. Their faces had haunted me through the years. Their names
were written on my soul. They'd driven me to become a forensic psycholgist, profiler,
truth seeker.
I'm surprised to learn that she's that old enough and is educated enough to be a forensic psychologist (you spelled this incorrectly, btw). I don't mean to insinuate that she sounds dumb. I simply mean that up until this paragraph, I assumed she was either a teenager (15-16), a young college student, or at most a less formally educated adult (possibly a hyper-active or hype-following or celebrity-following one). Her style of speech comes off as someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in a formal environment. I'm not discounting someone who works for the FBI or a police department (etc.) would speak perfectly refined English. I'm sure they would use slang and cliché's and imperfect sentence structure. I'm sure they could have a bubbly personality. It's other harder to define nuances that gave me this impression up until this point. It may very possibly translate more smoothly in the context of the story, but in this blurb, this information was hard to adjust to. I lost trust in your writing technique right away because the personality of the narration completely contradicted with the job description of the character. I think you can better correlate the two.

Also, use of the word "soul" can turn off readers very quickly. Supernatural fiction can successfully get away with it more often than mystery, crime drama, or more real-world fiction seems to be able to.

oliewankanobe said:
Now the little lost girls of Crow Point had been found. It was time to lay them to rest.
It was time to solve the mystery of their murders.
I like this paragraph, but by this point, it's redundant again. The reader already has learned they've been found. They have already learned that the case has been reopened. They have already learned that the narrator is seeking to catch their murders. Why repeat it?

oliewankanobe said:
I'm Maggie Gallagher. I'm not a little girl anymore. Nightmares lurk in sleepy little
towns like Crow Point. But I'm not afraid of the dark. I've got a badge, a gun, a
bat-sh*t crazy family, and a chip on my shoulder.

It's time to cry UNCLE.
I think I understand what you are aiming for here, but with all the issues prior to this, you completely lose the punch of it before you get to it.

No need to be vulgar on the blurb. I'm all for the well placed expletive, but in this case I think it detracts more than it adds. It's probably better to leave that out here.

"Chip on my shoulder" is another cliché. There's other more effective ways to get this sentiment across. In fact, you already imply it rather well with the whole "I'm not a little girl anymore" and "I'm not afraid of the dark." However, I would reword those; blend them to achieve more punch.

Also, while I like the usage of the title in the final line (generally speaking), it actually works against you. It the meaning doesn't actually align with what is said before. The term "cry uncle" is an exclamation of surrender. Who is supposed to be surrendering here?

Okay… with all that said (and I hope I did not come off as offensive or arrogant or anything rude like that), here is my revision suggestion.
I was having a decent Thursday until my dad called to tell me my uncle had died. He had poked an old mine, got blown up, and was now scattered all over the shores of Massacre Island. While authorities retrieved his remains, they found more than they should have.

Had the missing girls of Crow Point just been found? Would the brutal murders of these reputedly strange, odd and difficult kids finally be solved? Their disappearance had haunted me the past twenty-five years, had driven me become a forensic psychologist and profiler, and now it was my duty to seek the truth.

I'm Maggie Gallagher. Nightmares lurk in my sleepy home town, but I'm not a little girl anymore and I don't frighten so easily. I've got a badge, a gun, a crazy family, and a killer to catch.

Butchers of the Crow Point girls… It's time to Cry Uncle.
Okay, that's my two cents. I hope it's hopeful. Especially since I just realized how late I stayed up for it… Oops. ~_~ooo

I wish you the best of luck with your book. I hope it successfully pleases readers!

(Edited for this note: I just skimmed it and saw some typos I made. My apologies. I should fix them, but it is late and I am tired and it will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry.)
 

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Randirogue said:
Part of me wants to say to change "blown up" to simply "died." The reader will learn the "blown up" part in a following sentence.
But "blown up" is funnier than "dead." With several posters, including yours, you've removed even her hints at comedy, which I could clearly see her striving for with her irony statement.

I'm surprised to learn that she's that old enough and is educated enough to be a forensic psychologist (you spelled this incorrectly, btw).
I'm sure they would use slang and cliché's and imperfect sentence structure.
You just used the possessive instead of the plural.

I lost trust in your writing technique right away because the personality of the narration completely contradicted with the job description of the character. I think you can better correlate the two.
She already said SHE WANTED COMEDY. DARK CHOCOLATE COMEDY. Plenty of us with brains don't go around speaking like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Pick up Whiskey Sour by Joe Konrath and read all about his heroine, Jacqueline Daniels. That one is a smart, sharp cookie, but she's haggard, jaded and has to deal with a numbnuts partner all day long. So these heroines are very realistic.

I think I understand what you are aiming for here, but with all the issues prior to this, you completely lose the punch of it before you get to it.

No need to be vulgar on the blurb. I'm all for the well placed expletive, but in this case I think it detracts more than it adds. It's probably better to leave that out here.
Absolutely disagree. It helps to set the comedic tone which she clearly said WAS DARK COMEDY. Cynicism and acerbic wit in the form of tame expletives all help to show us a clear picture of a woman who doesn't give a good f**k, has had too much caffeine, not enough sex and still has to remain sane enough to deal with her idiot family. This is a woman clearly on the edge and ready for a breakdown, as soon as she can fit one into her schedule. It's needed to show the lighter and comedic side; she needs that in the voice. Because so far, most everyone has removed any hint of comedy from her voice in their rewrites.

Also, while I like the usage of the title in the final line (generally speaking), it actually works against you. It the meaning doesn't actually align with what is said before. The term "cry uncle" is an exclamation of surrender. Who is supposed to be surrendering here?
It doesn't have to be a term for surrender and used in its literal meaning. I think it works as a delicious metaphor for a woman who just lost her favourite Uncle AND is now responsible for a very important cold-case, so she's feeling all the pressure of everyone's eyes on her, which might induce her to cry uncle.

And if it hadn't been for the death of that uncle, they may never have found those missing children, so it delivers on a promise within the book, which is what great titles will do.
 

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A book is a product. A good blurb informs the customer in less than 30 seconds.

It's a comedy. You inform the reader that the Uncle blew up and that she has a bat-shit crazy family. The customer will also interprete the cover photo, type and overall style.

It's dark. We have skeletons and uncle parts:)

It's a mystery. An unsolved case.

It's personal. Her uncle is probably connected to the story and the disappearance of the three girls has haunted and shaped the protagonist.

She's determined. Her uncle is dead and she has a chip on her shoulder.

It's a complete drama. We have an inciting incident, we present the protagonist, we establish the imprortance of the mission to the protagonist and her determination. The customer knows what he/she is getting into.

That's all you can do and that's all you have to do. Less is more.
 

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opuscroakus said:
Were you replying to me?? Because my blurb did just that. And she said she wanted the TONE/VOICE to reflect the humour, but in the other examples, it doesn't.
Not in particular, I'm just trying to keep the focus. I believe that blurbs should not be written by writers. At least not the writer of the very novel. It's marketing copy, not literature.
 

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@opuscroakus:

Hi.  In your comments about my criticisms and suggestions it seems as though I somehow offended you with them.  My apologies if I did.  My suggestions weren't perfect, and I made them in Word then pasted them back in here for a post.  I never saw the other comments because I wanted to give a straight analysis on just her blurb. I never expected oliewankanobe to implement exactly what I said.  I merely gave her one perspective that she could face from potential readers.  I don't understand why my politely stated comments seemed to have upset you so much.  Also, as I go through your post, I can't help but wonder if you actually read my suggested revised blurb as a whole.  Some of what you countered me on, I had already re-included in the blurb revision example I put in at the end.  Finally, at the very end, I edited my post right after I put it up because I had noticed a typo or two (such as you point out).  That note apologizes for the mistakes and promises to correct them today (as it was almost 4am on my side when I posted it and was very tired, but trying to be helpful as much as I was able to at the time).  But, with how much my comments seemed to upset you, I'm wondering if it's worth the effort.  Again, I apologize if my comments somehow offended you.
 

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Panayotis said:
Not in particular, I'm just trying to keep the focus. I believe that blurbs should not be written by writers. At least not the writer of the very novel. It's marketing copy, not literature.
I have to disagree there. All of the suggestions here have been modified versions of the OP's blurb. So really, the author is the only person who can write the blurb.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks to one and all for great ideas and things to think about.  I've taken the liberty of copy/pasting some stuff, printing it, and sticking it up on my peg-board.

I was told, at fingerpoint this morning, to take a day off.  Usually that helps me.  LOL

Nothing so far is jumping out for me, so that's usually a signal to walk away.  Hopefully when I go back to it tomorrow some of these great suggestions will help me bundle it more tightly.
 

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Chrissy, try this:

Thursday I heard my uncle had blown up. Scattered all over Massacre Island. But when they picked up all the pieces, there were some body parts that didn't belong to him.

They belonged to three little girls who disappeared twenty-five years earlier.

Most people had forgotten the lost girls of Crow Point. Not me. Growing up in the same town, I was scared that whatever grabbed them in the dark might grab me too. I wanted to find out what happened to them so it wouldn't happen to me. It gave me nightmares so bad I grew up to become a forensic psychologist, a profiler. Now the nightmare is back.

But I've got a badge, a gun, a demented family and a chip on my shoulder. My name is Maggie Gallagher, and I'm going to make that nightmare cry UNCLE.

--

I liked the first person; it was fresh and engaging. Hope this helps.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Oy, Miranda, you're getting close!!  That was good!

I know part of this is I'm getting pressured for time, and that puts me too much in my head.  I want to get as much done as possible in the next two weeks. 

Unfortunately, I have to have open heart surgery next month and because I have PF, my recovery time tends to be longer.

So no pressure.  :D  LOL
 

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Maybe more like this...

They were children and they were dead.

It was twenty five years ago, and no one cared.

For twenty five years they had been forgotten. Even by me. But their names were written on my soul and made me who I am. Forensic psychologist, profiler, truth seeker. I know who I am.

I'm Maggie Gallagher. I'm not a little girl anymore. Nightmares lurk in sleepy little
towns like Crow Point. But I'm not afraid of the dark. I have a badge, a gun, a
bat-sh*t crazy family, and a chip on my shoulder.

I was having a decent Thursday until my dad called to tell me that my uncle had blown himself up. i didn't know it, but that sort of news can ruin your whole life.
 

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What does your uncle have to do with the story? Why does he get top billing? Is the event that sets things in motion your uncle or the girl's bodies?
 
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