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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Blurb for YA Coming-of-Age Romance

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message 1: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments I've written a YA Novel and am thinking of seeking representation. But first I'd like to polish up all my writing, including the blurb. Any help would be appreciated. I've basically tried to keep the same tone as the novel. I really want suggestions to improve it.

Here it goes:


Gowacherry Recovery Centre is a special boarding school located far away from typical twenty-second century cities. It's the place parents send their kids when they feel something's not right, and to the outside world, it's a rehab for problematic teens. In other words, it's exactly the kind of place seventeen-year-old Azain Raiznik would hate to go to.

But Azain has no choice. He's been 'in love' thirty-three times, and his parents are worried that may be too much romance for one young man. Only a year shy of graduating from high school, Azain's made to transfer and start a new life in a new place.

Devina Saigal, on the other hand, chose to stay in Gowacherry. She came in for perennial cynicism, but now she doesn't want to leave. It's not that she's made any friends (she has only one), and it's not the glowing academics Gowacherry offers to a brilliant student like Devina. Gowacherry is her home. And perhaps that's not a good thing.

What starts out as Azain's first friendship turns into Devina's first love. With each other, they've found home. But this is their last year of school, and they can see that not only did they both come with their own set of issues, but also that they came from different places and are headed in separate directions as well.

A coming-of-age romance set in the future, Gowacherry is about a girl and a boy finding love, and how that never gets easy, even in the twenty-second century.


I'm looking for tips on how to make this better. And I want honest feedback.


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Hello Shreyonti,

Sorry to say, but your blurb doesn't grab me. First, I think it's always better to start off with one of your MCs rather than background.

For me, it seems logically inconsistent that Azain has never had a friendship, yet felt he was in love 33 times. If, as I suspect, he has had 33 crushes (meaning, one-way 'relationships'), I think you are better off saying it that way. Even the 'scare quotes' (which, btw, I've been told many times by editors to always use double quotes) isn't likely to provide the needed context, at least in my eyes.

Devina having only one friend, which I have to assume isn't Azain the way it is written, needs some sort of explanation. A platonic boy friend? A close girlfriend? A staff member at the center?

By setting this in the future, you are basically slotting it in as scifi-romance and scifi readers generally want at least a sketch of the world you're intending for them to enter.

I thought about making an attempt at a version, but I feel it might be best if you could answer some of my questions first.

The general rule of thumb for blurbs is to introduce the MC(s in your case), describe their stakes and the obstacles in their way to achieving their aims. With scifi (and fantasy) you also need to give some description on why your world is one they will want to spend time in.

Good luck!


message 3: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) It needs to be shorter and have more punch to it...the names of places and the characters are hard to pronounce.


message 4: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments Keith wrote: "Hello Shreyonti,

Sorry to say, but your blurb doesn't grab me. First, I think it's always better to start off with one of your MCs rather than background.

For me, it seems logically inconsistent..."


Thank you for your feedback. I'll be sure to take it under consideration. I am just get stuck when trying to introduce my protagonists before giving feedback, because their obstacles are related to the Recovery Centre. If I don't introduce it first, it's harder to define their struggles.


message 5: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments How about if I put it this way?

Azain Raiznik is a love addict. He's nearly eighteen, he's claimed to have been in love thirty-three times and is worryingly good at getting over ex-girlfriends and moving on to his next love. His parents decide its time for action, and that's how he ends up at Gowacherry Recovery Centre, a future-day rehab for 'modern addictions'.

Devina Saigal, a girl who has never been in love, chose to be at Gowacherry. She came in for perennial cynicism, but now she doesn't want to leave. It's not that she's made any friends (she has only one), and it's not the glowing academics Gowacherry offers to a brilliant student like Devina. Gowacherry is her home. And perhaps that not a good thing.


A coming-of-age romance set in the future, Gowacherry is about a girl and a boy finding love, and how that never gets easy, even in the twenty-second century.



message 6: by Shalini (new)

Shalini | 62 comments Hi... I dont read YA romances on a regular basis. So for a reader like me, there should be something that piques my curiosity... You are telling me too much about the main characters but not leaving me with - wonder how they fall in love??? Will they fight, will there be clashes..? These questions don't come to my mind. I just come to know Azain is in love with love and Devina is a cynic and she thinks school as home.
Keep ur blurb short and make me wonder how will these two come together .. And how does romance happen between these two... Don't give the entire story in the blurb... Why would I then buy your book... This is purely my opinion but blurb should make me want to wonder and imagine


message 7: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Hmm. "Love addict" implies physicality, which, at that age, is probably not something you're intending to convey (even if he spent a month with each, that puts him at 15 when he started). Also, 'ex-girlfriend' implies that it was mutual, which also implies that either he is a total dickhead around women, even if he is charming enough at first, or there are a substantial number of pissed off women in his wake.

Also, you haven't done anything to tell us about their world.

Last names are rarely valuable additions to a blurb and since you've got names that are challenging to many readers, I feel less is more in this case.

"not that she's made any friends" is incompatible with "she has only one".

"And perhaps that not a good thing" is rather passive. You want readers of your blurb to want to find out what happens. This is not the place for equivocation.

If the recovery center factors in strongly, you still need to introduce your characters first, then explain why the center is important.

These things are a real challenge and I feel strongly I've spent more time on my blurb and synopsis than I did writing my first draft. Don't despair!


message 8: by Kiara (new)

Kiara | 4 comments I have to disagree here.

YA Romance is one of my favorite genres, and the second blurb you posted really caught my interest. It left me wondering how they fall in love, and how that affects them leaving the rehab center.

The being in love 33 times sounds just fine– a similar line is used in the Kids of Appetite by David Arnold.

I think your last line about a girl and a boy finding love is great because it conveys how your story is a unique twist on an old plot.

Anyway, that's my two cents. By the way, if you're looking for comparison titles, your blurb brought to mind It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.


message 9: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments Here's another draft, with some minor changes:


Azain has a problem. He's nearly eighteen, he's claimed to have been in love thirty-three times and is worryingly good at getting over ex-girlfriends and moving on to his next love (not that any of his exes want him back, either). His parents decide its time for action, and that's how he ends up at Gowacherry Recovery Centre, a future-day rehab for 'modern addictions'.

Devina's a girl who has never been in love, and she chose to stay at Gowacherry. She came in for perennial cynicism, but now she doesn't want to leave. It's not her super active social life that's holding her back. Neither is it the glowing academics Gowacherry offers to a brilliant student like Devina. Gowacherry is her home. And perhaps that not a good thing.

The two connect trying to save an old library in an age when real books have all but disappeared.

What starts out as Azain's first friendship turns into Devina's first love. With each other, they've found home. But this is their last year of school, and they can see that not only did they both come with their own set of issues, but also that they came from different places and are headed in separate directions as well.

A coming-of-age romance set in the future, Gowacherry is about a girl and a boy finding love, and how that never gets easy, even in the twenty-second century.

And I really appreciate what you guys are doing for me here. I love you guys for helping me so much.


message 10: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments OK, I'm getting a much better sense of the story with this version. Since I assume this is meant to be sarcastic: "It's not her super active social life that's holding her back," you need to find a way to convey that, as reading it literally you are giving the exact opposite impression from the earlier versions. You can try scare quotes, but I'm not sure that will be enough.

The bit about saving the old library helps a great deal. I think you can expand that by another sentence or two in such a way you can develop your world a bit more.

You may get complaints about the length. The rule of thumb for a blurb is 100-150 words, though I've heard many people say that isn't realistic. Look at comparable books and see how many words their blurbs are. The main thing is you have 5-10 seconds to hook your reader into reading the whole blurb (this is exacerbated with agents and publishers), so there must be immediate punch.

Your choice to blend scifi with romance makes it a challenge, as I've not read much scifi where the focus was on the romance (there are many with romantic subplots, but even in those cases they are the exception). If you're put on the shelf with scifi, you're going to struggle to interest the average reader. With the romance area, you may not get much attention as I don't think that slice of the market is very large (not being a romance reader (until I started beta-ing here, at least) I can't say for sure).

BTW, for a query, you want to have some comps. Well-known, but not best sellers. The idea is your selection of comps tells the agent/publisher where you feel yours will fit on the shelf (because it has to go somewhere). As I mentioned above, the comps can help you with other issues, such as the length of your blurb.

Because you have a scifi romance, I think your blurb needs to be longer than average, since you need to firmly introduce _three_ characters (woman, man, world). I don't feel you've done enough to introduce the world, though you are getting closer. I assume you chose to set your story in the future for a reason and not a whim, you need to let that reason show through, but you must do so within the context of the story, not as an infodump.


message 11: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments This is not sci-fi, even though the story is set in the future. I wanted to talk about how people can get very lonely in a world dominated by social media, and therefore built a future world which is very similar to the present, but social media is a lot more advance and invasive. I've also built cities which are bleak and monotonous, and a lot more boring than the cities we have now.

I wonder how I could squeeze all that into one sentence.

Here's another draft, with some minor changes:


Azain has a problem. He's nearly eighteen, he's claimed to have been in love thirty-three times and is worryingly good at getting over ex-girlfriends and moving on to his next love (not that any of his exes want him back, either). His parents decide its time for action, and that's how he ends up at Gowacherry Recovery Centre, a future-day rehab for 'modern addictions'.

Devina's a girl who has never been in love, and she chose to stay at Gowacherry. She came in for perennial cynicism, but now she doesn't want to leave. It's not her a super active social life that's holding her back, because she's only made a couple of friends. Neither is it the glowing academics Gowacherry offers to a brilliant student like Devina. To her, Gowacherry feels more like home than her real home ever did. And perhaps that not a good thing.

The two connect trying to save an old library in an age when real books have all but disappeared.

What starts out as Azain's first friendship turns into Devina's first love. With each other, they've found home. But this is their last year of school, and they can see that not only did they both come with their own set of issues, but also that they came from different places and are headed in separate directions as well.

A coming-of-age romance set in a all-too-familiar future, Gowacherry is about a girl and a boy finding love, and how that never gets easy, even in the twenty-second century.


For comps, I'm actually thinking An Abundance of Katherines by John Green and Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven, although I'm not sure what comp to use for the boarding school connection.


message 12: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I would suggest, re the future setting, to have it in the 'not too distant future' rather than the 22nd century. That way you can completely side-step any notion of scifi, which is where you are as soon as you talk about two centuries hence. Recall that two centuries ago there was no industrial revolution, electricity, radio, antibiotics, men on the moon, etc. No one knows what we'll have two centuries, but I have to imagine it will be at least as radical a change as the last two. This is where scifi lives.

The "near future," on the other hand, gives you exactly what you want. By taking any sort of date out of it, just describing what you want (e.g., crowded cities, social media on overload (aren't we already there?)), I think you will have much stronger appeal to the conventional romance market.

Just my two cents on the matter.

"Devina's a girl who has never been in love, and she chose to stay at Gowacherry" seem to be two unrelated topics, so don't see how they belong in the same sentence.

I think you are better off avoiding the sarcasm of Devina's social life and just state she has few (or a single) friend. Like any other brief text-based communication medium, it's often hard to convey that sort of context cleanly.

I still think "And perhaps that not a good thing" is weak. It's also missing 'is', but I think you should either leave it out or drop the perhaps.


message 13: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments Thank you, Keith, for your valuable insight.

You are really helping me here. I have a bit of time on my hands before I move to America for grad school, and I appreciate getting feedback on my writing right now. So, thanks again.

Here's another draft:

Azain has a problem. He's nearly eighteen, he's claimed to have been in love thirty-three times and is worryingly good at getting over ex-girlfriends and moving on to his next love (not that any of his exes want him back, either). His parents decide its time for action, and that's how he ends up at Gowacherry Recovery Centre, a future-day rehab for 'modern addictions'.

Devina's chose to stay at Gowacherry. She came in for "perennial cynicism", but now she doesn't want to leave. It's not because she has tons of friends or a boyfriend. Nor is it the glowing academics Gowacherry offers to a brilliant student like Devina. To her, Gowacherry feels more like home than her real home ever did, and she's scared to grow out of it.

Gowacherry is a sanctuary from a world in which they've both been failed to fit in. It's modeled after the early 21st century, a time both Devina and Azain wish they had lived through. Slowly, they connect trying to save an old library in an age when real books have all but disappeared.

What starts out as Azain's first friendship turns into Devina's first love. With each other, they've found home. But this is their last year of school, and they can see that not only did they both come with their own set of issues, but also that they came from different places and are headed in separate directions as well.

A coming-of-age romance set in a all-too-familiar future, Gowacherry is about a girl and a boy finding love, and how that never gets easy, no matter what time one's living in.


Let me know what you think about this one.


message 14: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I'd written you a nice response, then my browser crashed and it seems to have vanished. I'm going to grab a bite to eat, then try and recreate my response...


message 15: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I've tweaked it a little and cut the word count down without, I feel, hurting it.


Azain has a problem. Nearly eighteen, he believes he's been in love thirty-three times. Worryingly good at getting over ex-girlfriends and moving on to his next love (his exes are all happy to be that way), his parents decide its time for action. They send him to the Gowacherry Recovery Centre, a future-day rehab for "modern addictions."

Devina came in for "perennial cynicism," but now doesn't want to leave. It's not because she has tons of friends. Nor is it the glowing academics Gowacherry offers to such a brilliant student. Instead, Gowacherry feels more like home than her real home ever did. She's scared to grow out of it.

Gowacherry is a sanctuary from a world where they've both failed to fit in. It's modeled after the early 21st century, a time both wish they'd lived through. While trying to save an old library, in an age when real books have all but disappeared, they begin to connect.

What starts out as Azain's first real friendship turns into Devina's first love. With each other, they've found home. But this is their last year of school and their divergent futures are pulling them apart.

A coming-of-age romance set in a all-too-familiar future, "Gowacherry" is about a girl and a boy finding love, and how that never gets easy, no matter what time one's living in.


Have you had some romance readers give you feedback? Kiara seems to be into romance and indicated she felt an earlier version has merit. I'm not a romance reader (well, before I started beta reading, now I've enjoyed a few) so don't have experience looking at those sorts of blurbs.

What are you planning to study and where? Got family where you'll be studying or taking the plunge alone?

Good luck with your studies and with your novel!

Keith


message 16: by Shreyonti (new)

Shreyonti Chakraborty | 89 comments I am planning to study architecture at Penn State. No, I do not have any family in the US. I'm kinda nervous. If you read the book, you'd see I keep trying to work architecture into the story as well. I actually have plans and sections for Gowacherry!

I love the draft you made. See, this is something that happens when English isn't one's first language. Even though I am fluent, once it comes down to tweaking the draft to make it shorter or better, it's like I don't know where to go.


message 17: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Having spoken English as my first and only language (despite efforts to pick up Latin and French in school, then Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog and Waray, courtesy of a girlfriend and wife, paired respectively) I can say with confidence it has nothing to do with your level of fluency. These things are a massive PITA to write and one of the reasons I've been helping out here is to get experience writing my own.

As an FYI, I decided, after reading on some blog post somewhere, to write my blurb and synopsis first, and only once satisfied with them would I start writing the novel (not that I wouldn't be making notes). I've found that I get 'poisoned' by my 'pretty' prose and 'clever' plot twists after writing the novel proper and find it very challenging to cut 80K words down to 150 for the blurb, then 500 for the synopsis. Going the other way, though, allows me to have laser focus on what unique elements attracted me to the story in the first place. I have no doubt I'll be tweaking the blurb and synopsis once done, but at least this way I feel I can save time. I'm quite certain I've spent more time on my first novel's blurb and synopsis than I did writing the initial draft.

The best of luck in your studies!


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