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Blurb Workshop > Blurb Help - Apocalyptic Fantasy/Steampunk, Hælend's Ballad

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message 1: by Ian (new)

Ian Conrey Below is a blurb I'm writing my book website. It feels a little cliche and cheesy to me, but I want to write it in a way that catches peoples attention. Thanks for any input!
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It’s been sixteen years since the Sunderians were conquered by Daecland — an advanced foreign nation whose inner secrets still lay beyond the mountains of the Great Fringe. Political and economic shifts have brought on the suffering of many in the lower classes, and a resistance movement known as the Silent Hither has begun to grow within the taverns and squalors of Sunder’s major cities. Led by a group called the Dark Horses, fate seems to fall into their hands when an opportunity arises to fight back and push the Daecish from their land.

But a shadow soon appears, and rumors spread that a young boy has been washed up on the shore. As verses from Hælend’s Ballad are whispered across the countryside, the very fabric of society begins to crumble. The people soon realize that their biggest troubles go far deeper than an invasive foreign nation. Who really is the enemy? Is it the Daecish? Is it themselves?


message 2: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments It's deep in the night and I've had an awful day so my brain is working at about 10% of capacity. But I don't know what does the "boy has washed up in the shore" has to do with anything. Nor why do verses from a ballad have to do with a society crumbling. Perhaps start by clarifying those? The first paragraph reads correctly to me.


message 3: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4270 comments Mod
I get a strong sense of history and atmosphere surrounding the story, but I'm not clear what the story is. A boy, a ballad, deep troubles... I don't know what any of this is.


message 4: by John (new)

John | 54 comments I also need some clarification... basically what I get is that a country has been invaded by another country, a resistance movement has formed, but now there seems to be some other kind of problem brewing in the country.

The details about the secret of the invaders, a boy washed up on the beach etc do not add up to anything that tells what to expect if I read this book.

In some ways, this reads more like a short prologue that, somewhat poetically, throws a lot of balls up in the air promising to catch them all in the story. But for me, that doesn't work as a blurb.


message 5: by Ian (last edited Dec 13, 2018 06:01AM) (new)

Ian Conrey I appreciate the great feedback! My initial thought was to provide a general background to the setting, then give several hints to the underlying theme of the story. But what you all said made perfect sense. I will write up another one. Thanks again!


message 6: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4270 comments Mod
Don't get me wrong, Ian. I like what you wrote. It's well done for what it is - like John says it works as a short prologue. A blurb is meant to entice people to pick up the book and read a few pages. Give us an idea of one or two major characters and what they're up against.


message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian Conrey Here's a re-write I just threw together. I think this is more along the lines of what's needed. My only concern is that the first sentence gives too much away (even though the event takes place in Chapter 3).

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Roane, a nine-year-old orphan, finds his life suddenly ripped away when a fellow orphan drowns him in the Finnvard river. When he wakes up in a foreign country, an emptiness begins to fill his soul. The appearance of a large beast-like creature, a haunting shadow, and an eerie man who is bound in shackles, begs the question of whether Roane is even truly alive.

At nineteen years old, dire circumstances have forced Arnon Greystrom to take up the mantle of his father. He must join the Dark Horses and lead the cause of the Silent Hither to remove, once and for all, the invasive foreign Daecish from his homeland, Sunder. But after an economic collapse and spreading rumors that the signs of Hælend’s Ballad are coming true, the very fabric of society begins to crumble. With the fear of coming judgement, the Sunderians soon realize that their biggest troubles go far deeper than a foreign nation. Who really is the enemy? Is it Daecland? Is it themselves?


message 8: by John (new)

John | 54 comments I think the last paragraph works well - do you really need the first?

Two comments to the last paragraph:

You may want to give us a clearer picture of what kind of world we are asked to enter (steampunk?). Or make sure we understand that from the cover.

Having the young hero, somehow, forced in to being a leader is very good. But we lose him later. When the 'fabric of society begins to crumble' the subject becomes 'the Sunderians'. Maybe you could say something about how this affects our young hero.


message 9: by Jay (new)

Jay Greenstein (jaygreenstein) | 217 comments It’s been sixteen years since the Sunderians were conquered by Daecland

Passive. Actively stated it would be: It’s been sixteen years since Daecland conquered the Sunderians.

an advanced foreign nation whose inner secrets still lay beyond the mountains of the Great Fringe.

“Foreign nation?” “Inner secrets?” “Great Fringe?”

This is meaningless to a reader who has no clue of what something like “advanced” means in this story. The Romans were an “advanced” nation compared to the Germanic tribes, but England of today is an “advanced nation” compared to third world countries. Which of those “advanced” is the reader supposed to visualize? And what can “The Great Fringe” mean to a reader who doesn’t even know what planet we’re on, or what conquered means in context to this story?

Political and economic shifts

Given that the reader has no clue of the original politics, how can a shift be meaningful to them?

Bottom line: You have knowledge and intent, and you’re writing from the seat of someone who has the story, and everything about it in their mind. So for you, each line calls up images and story that resides in your mind. The reader? They have what the words suggest to them, based on their background. So for them, each line calls up images and story that resides in your mind.

The moral? Write and edit the blurb from the seat of the reader, not the writer.


message 10: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4270 comments Mod
Ian wrote: "My only concern is that the first sentence gives too much away (even though the event takes place in Chapter 3."

That may or may not be a problem, depending on how deep into the book Chapter 3 is. It's its well within the first 25% of the book or so, I think it's fine.


message 11: by Ian (last edited Dec 13, 2018 12:36PM) (new)

Ian Conrey Jay wrote: "It’s been sixteen years since the Sunderians were conquered by Daecland

Passive. Actively stated it would be: It’s been sixteen years since Daecland conquered the Sunderians.

an advanced foreign ..."


I appreciate your insight, Jay. I went ahead and rewrote the blurb in an attempt to fix some of those errors (see two posts above your comment), but it still needs some work. I don't know why, but writing a novel seems infinitely easier than a blurb (or a synopsis!). But I'm sure it'll make me a better writer in general. I'm gonna work on this awhile longer and post an update. Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to critique.


message 12: by Ian (last edited Dec 15, 2018 07:53PM) (new)

Ian Conrey So here is my latest attempt. I tried to give a little background, but also helpful information on two of the main characters, while (hopefully) giving a motivation for reading the story.

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The Sunderians look on in awe as steam-powered ships from Daecland soar between the mountain peaks of the Great Fringe. Swords and axes are of little use against such baffling technologies and the House of Burgess surrenders to the invading force. Within weeks, a Daecish king is put on Sunder’s throne.

Sixteen years later, new Daecish laws are forcing the already poor into dire conditions, and disunity erupts between the upper and lower classes. While men are mysteriously taken from their homes in the middle of the night and drafted to Daecland, Arnon Greystrom must take up the mantle of his father — join the Dark Horses and lead the cause of the Silent Hither to fight back and remove, once and for all, the Daecish from his homeland.

But beneath the currents of human affairs, deeper things are moving. Roane, a nine-year-old orphan, is drowned in the Finnvard river, only to wake up in an unfamiliar land. Guided by a hideous creature of shadow, and haunted by the visits of a strange man, he soon finds himself caught in a providential doom which tangles his own fate with countless others.


message 13: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 346 comments Much better.


message 14: by Frances (new)

Frances Fletcher | 46 comments Consider deleting the whole first paragraph and the first phrase in the second paragraph. In my opinion, backstory doesn't belong in a blurb. Stick to the current story. Its engaging in itself. Potential readers don't need the backstory to be hooked into your current action.


message 15: by Ian (last edited Dec 18, 2018 08:41AM) (new)

Ian Conrey V.M. wrote: "Ian wrote: "So here is my latest attempt. I tried to give a little background, but also helpful information on two of the main characters, while (hopefully) giving a motivation for reading the stor..."

Thank you for such an extensive reply! Despite taking me five years, I sometimes feel like my novel was easier to write than this blurb! Anyway, I took much of your advice and attempted to tweak and cut out the contents. I also added a sentence at the end in the hopes of tying Roane's part to the first paragraph. Hopefully this is better.

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A Daecish king sits on Sunder’s throne. New laws strip away a thousand years of Sunderian culture and the already poor are forced into squalors and coal mines. There are those who resist the changes, but not without a price. When Arnon Greystrom’s father is executed before him, he refuses to sit by and watch the Daecish tear his world apart. He will join the cause of the Silent Hither and remove, once and for all, the foreign oppressors from his homeland.

Meanwhile, Roane, a nine-year-old orphan, is drowned in the Finnvard river, only to wake up in an unfamiliar land. Guided by a hideous creature of shadow, he soon finds himself caught in a providential doom which tangles his own fate with countless others. Even Arnon cannot anticipate the pandemonium he will soon be caught in.


message 16: by Ian (last edited Dec 18, 2018 10:05AM) (new)

Ian Conrey I definitely understand why I need to tie that better. One issue i'm running into is that this a multiple pov story. I chose Arnon because he is the main perspective, and I also chose Roane because his role will impact everyone else in the story, even though it is largely indirect. For example, Arnon and Roane never meet, but their lives are greatly intertwined. So, my attempt is to connect them, but in a broader sense (I do want to keep it somewhat a mystery). I'll keep working on it! Thanks again.


message 17: by John (new)

John | 54 comments I may be wrong, but I have a strong feeling that the way Roane influence the story of Arnon and the rest of the characters is one of the major attractions in the book, and you don't want to come out and reveal it. Fair enough, but at least consider making it clearer that this is a true riddle and not lack of clarity.

We are introduced to the situation and told a character will join the resistance, and at this point, most readers will expect a 'but....' to let us know why this won't be a straightforward story. Instead, we get a 'meanwhile...' So as VM said, a stronger connection between the two paragraphs is probably a good idea.


message 18: by Ian (last edited Dec 18, 2018 03:16PM) (new)

Ian Conrey I thought about what you both said (and also looked at other examples). I kept the first paragraph the same but I rewrote the last paragraph entirely. Rather than mention Roane, I mention him briefly along with several other occurrences which directly relate to Arnon. Not sure if i'm going in the right direction or further away, lol.

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A Daecish king sits on Sunder’s throne. New laws strip away a thousand years of Sunderian culture and the already poor are forced into squalors and coal mines. There are those who resist the changes, but not without a price. When Arnon Greystrom’s father is executed before him, he refuses to sit by and watch the Daecish tear his world apart. He will join the cause of the Silent Hither and remove, once and for all, the foreign oppressors from his homeland.

But with the arrival of an early winter, rumors begin to spread. A drowned boy has come back alive. Alphyns are stirring beneath the earth. Wyrms slither from the deepest caverns of the seas. Just as victory seems to be in Arnon’s reach, the people begin to believe that these are the signs of the apocalyptic poem, Hælend’s Ballad. Some whisper that the end is coming and Arnon soon realizes that there are deeper troubles he must face than an invasive foreign kingdom. Are the Daecish really the enemy? Or have they come as one of the signs of judgement against his own people?


message 19: by John (new)

John | 54 comments I like this a lot!

Good luck with your launch!


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