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Blurb Workshop > Blurb Help - Literary Fiction - Long Road to Yukon

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message 1: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments Hello,

Trying to get my ducks in a row, so I'm posting my blurb in the hopes that you fine people can tear it to shreds.

Here it is:

On a warm summer night, Andy slips out from his quiet house and leaves everything behind. His dissertation, his job, and even his girlfriend. Just slips out thinking that he’ll never have to look back. He tells himself that it wasn’t that he had a bad life, just one that didn’t fit quite right. Like a sweater that had been through the wash a few too many times.

But Andy hasn’t even been on the road for a full day when his life reaches out and catches him. His girlfriend had been watching him over the years, and she knows more about Andy than he had ever thought possible. Knows about his double life, knows about all the faces we try so hard to keep secret. Knows exactly why he’s was running away.

And she’s not going to let him go quietly.

She wants him home, and she knows things. Knows things that he can hardly bring himself to admit. Andy wants to keep running, to find that new life over the horizon. But Andy is about to learn that in the digital age you can’t disappear, and that there’s no such thing as running away from your problems. Your old life always finds you, and the past has long claws.


message 2: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments I like it, it's good. The word 'knows' gets a little repetitious, especially by the third paragraph. The very end, 'long claws,' almost moves it into something more . . . threatening. Maybe. I can't tell. The cover should give me an idea about that. It's well written.


message 3: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments M.L. wrote: "The word 'knows' gets a little repetitious, especially by the third paragraph."

Yeah, it is pretty heavy handed. I like the repetition in general, but it looks like I may have got a little carried away. I'll try and scale it back when I revise it today.

As for the cover, unfortunately, it doesn't give that idea. It was pointed out to me that the tone of the cover needs to be darker and more ominous. Right now it's a bit too breezy and nice consider that the book is neither breezy nor nice.

I'm working on getting the cover shored up. I think my biggest problem right now is the mismatch in tone between my blur and cover.

Thanks for your feedback. I'll incorporate it into my revisions :)


message 4: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
I tend to write this way, too, with a lot of repetition. Then I clean it up in the editing phase. Some in your writing is great, even fine. In a blurb, you want to get to the point quickly.

I do like the blurb and it sounds like an interesting story. It is a bit long for all you're really telling us, though. Andy is running away, he wants a new life, his girlfriend is watching him, she's going to track him down. That's really all we know by the end of the blurb.

When I read the first paragraph, I feel a little frustrated by the end. I get it. He's leaving. What else is going on?

By the third paragraph I feel like I know what the story is going to be, at least enough to be interested. Then the blurb continues.

It's a good blurb. Don't get me wrong. It's just a bit wordy and once the point has been made, it keeps making it. I agree with M.L. The word "know" gets overplayed. It's usually recommended a blurb be around a hundred to one hundred fifty words. You have over two hundred. There's lots of trimming room. Tighten it up and I think you'll have a great blurb.


message 5: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments Dwayne wrote: "t's just a bit wordy and once the point has been made, it keeps making it... It's usually recommended a blurb be around a hundred to one hundred fifty words"

This is a great point, and one that I should have had done before coming here. I honestly don't know where I got the idea from, but I was thinking that 250 seemed about right. Though, poking around at blurbs for successful books, your range seems to be a bit more in the norm. It's a good target to cut back to.

As for the making the point and continuing, that's good to know. I'm going to operate on the assumption that cutting it back to around 150 words will take care of that problem too.

That's twice that you've helped me, and I can't thank you enough.


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

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
There's no hard and fast rule for how long a blurb should be. Some sources will encourage shorter ones and I have seen some sources say they should be over two hundred words. Most sources seem to encourage keeping them around a hundred to one hundred fifty, though. Often times what you want to put out there about your book will play a factor in how long the blurb should be. You don't seem to want us to have a great deal of detail on what is going to happen, and that's fine, but it warrants a shorter blurb.


message 7: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments Dwayne wrote: "You don't seem to want us to have a great deal of detail on what is going to happen, and that's fine, but it warrants a shorter blurb."

Great way to put it. And to be honest, I try really hard in my writing to be as concise as possible, but it's increasingly obvious that I failed in doing that here. You're not the only one to notice that either. I'll post an updated version here in a few hours before I update my product page, and hopefully you'll be around to weigh in (no pressure!)

Thanks again!


message 8: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
I'll try. I tend not to have a lot of time for Goodreads during the work week, but try to check in now and then. If you post later tonight, I should have time to check it out. (This is assuming you're in roughly the same time zone as me - I'm in central).


message 9: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments Here's the revision I'm working with atm:

"On a warm summer night, Andy slips out from his quiet house and leaves everything behind. His dissertation, his job, and even his girlfriend. Just packs his life into a small van and takes to the road, hoping to find meaning in a looming wall of mountains.

But Andy hasn’t even been on the road for a full day when his life reaches out and catches him. His girlfriend had been watching him over the years, and she knows more about Andy than he had ever thought possible.

And she’s not going to let him go quietly.

Andy is about to learn that in the digital age you can’t disappear. That there’s no such thing as running away from your problems. Your old life always finds you, and the past has long claws."

I focused mostly on paring this down rather than on revising content, but I think it's an improvement in that each section has a single job to do and I don't feel like I start rambling.

You'll notice that I got rid of the 'know' repetition, and I got rid of the line about his life being like a sweater that doesn't fit anymore. It was hard to cut that line because I really liked it, but based on feed back I got here and on the KDP boards, I don't think it did any work in the blurb other than giving the readers more chances to get bored.

I like the structure better now too (thanks Dwayne).

1. The scenario / basic plot
2. The problems
3. Hooky bits.

The one thing I still think it lacks are clearly defined stakes. If he goes back he'll essentially be going back to an abusive relationship, but in the book I slowly (sort of) build up to the fact that he's in an abusive relationship because he's totally oblivious to it.

And I don't know how much of that I can cram in there to communicate the stakes. Part of me is thinking that it's better to leave them out, but I'm hoping some of you fine people will tell me if it's a glaring hole in my blurb (no one has yet mentioned the lack of stakes, which has kind of surprised me) or if I'm just nitpicking.

The 'long claws' phrase is also repeated often in the book, so I like it. But part of me is worried that it's jarring because it's not exactly a common expression.

Again, thank you to everyone for reading and weighing in.


message 10: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited Jan 26, 2020 04:51PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
J. wrote: "The one thing I still think it lacks are clearly defined stakes. If he goes back he'll essentially be going back to an abusive relationship, but in the book I slowly (sort of) build up to the fact that he's in an abusive relationship because he's totally oblivious to it."

This new blurb is much better. It's tighter and gets to the point faster. I do agree, though, I would like to see a little hint of what's really at stake here. I get the vague idea that the girlfriend could be obsessed, possessive, etc. Is that enough? It wouldn't hurt to at least let us get a glimpse of the abuse he's suffered. This is what I think is toughest about blurbs... giving away enough of the story to get people interested without giving up too many secrets.


message 11: by John (new)

John | 56 comments I think those are good blurbs.

I believe the first may have shown more of the voice of the book. Of course, I could be wrong.

I like the sweater line. In most genres, it would irrelevant but for fiction, it would be fine IMO (I would suggest dropping the word 'few')

In both blurbs, I got a bit confused about the story and setting. It is the word 'catches.' I wasn't sure if that meant that he would be dragged or forced back and the rest of the story was him back in his home somehow trying to sort things out before he went off again, or if he continues the escape and we would have some kind of "road movie" where he keeps travelling. The former would be quite disappointing (to me) but I think you mean the latter. Maybe some variation of 'catches up with him' instead of 'catches'?

In the new version, the last paragraph seems to focus more on the issue of going off the grid in a digital age, rather than personal and interpersonal problems trying to escape. Not sure if that is the intention.

You seem to put the girlfriend in quite a negative light. As we only know of one person, the girlfriend,
whos is trying to bring Andy back and you talk about 'clawing in' and 'catching.'

After the first paragraph, I get the impression that a man wants to leave a dull life behind. Good for him. But then he is not able to break up with his gf! It does not seem very realistic that a man who will leave a steady life, presumably for a life on the road, would not be able to break up. Something is missing here, about his motivation, his gf's hold on him, and their relationship. Which is probably connected. For me, it is not missing in a good way that makes me want to read the book to get answers, but in a confusing way. I'm not implying that you go into detail about everything, but perhaps signal that here is a mystery that will be answered in the story.

Hope it helped a little and hood luck!


message 12: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments I didn't think the first one was heavy handed; it had just a few too many 'knows.' The rewrite is good but I think some of the voice was lost. It seems to be avoiding the issue and I think it would help to say 'abuse' rather than dance around it.
Here's a go at it! :)

Andy knows he isn't perfect, but then who is? His life is good, so is his girlfriend, but he knows something is missing. Maybe it's something he'd rather forget. Maybe it's something he hasn't quite admitted. Abusive relationships are subtle, so subtle in fact that without knowing it he's trapped in one.

Instinct tells him to leave, to pack up and go, and so he does. Yet leaving the past behind is easier said than done. Andy piles his hopes for a new life into his minivan and heads for the hills. Twenty-four hours later, he is back. The past has long claws--and they are not about to release him.


message 13: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments M.L. wrote: "The rewrite is good but I think some of the voice was lost."

Certainly was, but it being too long in general was a problem that many people pointed out. I've posted the revised version because I do think it's an improvement, but I'm till considering the blurb to be very much under revision.

I like your rewrite a lot. It's very engaging to read. However, I think what you do best with your version is make an attempt to communicate the stakes and the problems - both of which are things that I only hint at.

You've also shown me something very valuable here - my blurb starts at the start of the book. That felt natural because it mimics the shape of the story. It also means that my blurb wants to be a summary whereas your version feels more like a sales pitch (in a good way).

Maybe that's part of my problem. Not so much the wording or the length, but that I've misunderstood the role of the text, and so the blurb feels off. Like it's living in the uncanny valley. Like I'm writing for the wrong job. If that's true, then it means that I need to ask myself why I feel so confident that people would want to read my book in the first place, and communicate that instead of the events in the book.

Or maybe I'm just spinning my wheels trying to figure out what makes yours sound so damn good, lol.


message 14: by J. (last edited Jan 28, 2020 02:51PM) (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments John wrote: "The former would be quite disappointing (to me) but I think you mean the latter. Maybe some variation of 'catches up with him' instead of 'catches'?."

You make a really good point there. He doesn't go back, and most of the book his him fighting the urge to give in and go back as the stakes pile on and the risk becomes ever greater. It chips away at him as he tries to focus on what he set out for - finding himself.

The word catches does almost imply that he goes back. I should get that fixed so that it's more clear what the reader is going to be getting themselves into.

As for sharing what the exgf has on him, that's a case of me trying to lead everyone to believe it's one thing and then it turns out to be something else that's much worse, so I'm reluctant to say specifically what it is in the blurb.

However, you're dead right that it reads as though I'm actively trying to avoid giving information (because I am), and that's a problem. I'll have to spend some time thinking about how to get that sorted.

Thanks a lot for your feedback, it's very appreciated!


message 15: by D. (new)

D. Thrush | 180 comments I know I'm late to the party, but just a few suggestions:

How about "especially his girlfriend" instead of "even his girlfriend"?
"...hoping to escape" instead of "...hoping to find answers."
"But Andy has been on the run for less than 24 hours, when he realizes (discovers)," instead of "But Andy hasn’t even been on the road for a full day when his life reaches out and catches him."
"And she’s not going to let him go quietly." Remove "quietly."
"...and the past has long claws." Replace "the past" with "secrets."

Sounds like an interesting story.


message 16: by J. (new)

J. Beardon | 17 comments D. wrote: "I know I'm late to the party"

Never too late to party! And, because this is my first book, my plan is to tweak everything about the page so I have an idea of what to do the next time.

I like a lot of your suggestions, they make it a lot more compact. I think part of the problem with the blurb that you and others are touching on is that I'm trying to be coy and withhold information from the reader, whereas it seems to be better to lay it all on the line. I'll give it another pass tonight with your suggestions in mind and post what I come up with.

Thanks a lot for your feedback.


message 17: by D. (new)

D. Thrush | 180 comments Tease the reader about what's coming and keep it concise. As a reader, I don't like long blurbs. This is your chance to sell the story. What can a reader expect to experience?


message 18: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments I think most people like short blurbs. I do, too. The most important thing for me however is if the blurb keeps me reading. I'm looking for the voice as well. The way the first blurb starts out, "On a warm summer night . . ." is an interesting and unusual start. I thought it was good: it's ahead of the reader, but t has to stay ahead and not slow down. If it slows, the reader catches up. You've got to stay ahead of the reader.
My opinion anyway. :)


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