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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Need Opinions on Blurb for YA Contemporary

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message 1: by Kenny (new)

Kenny (kenny_valentine) | 61 comments Hello! I'm working on the developmental edit of my YA Contemporary. My head's been in the story too long. I need fresh eyes to tell me if this blurb makes sense, if the genre is clear, if it causes confusion, if it captures interest and all that sort of thing.

Thank you very much in advance. I hope everyone is staying safe in these difficult times.

"When Alex’s world crumbles after a tragedy befalls her family, her only source of strength is a promise, shared inside the comforts of her closet with her best friend.

All Abby wants is to stay by her side and get her colorful best friend back, but life sucks the color out of her everyday, and all she can do is watch helpless as the promise she once made becomes but a fading whisper from the past.

Stained with a heart too greedy and selfish to be fixed, Alex risks to taint the one pure thing in her life with a lie, hoping to revive a promise once lost. But when the pile of lies turns into a mountain, is there a way down without breaking every last one of her bones?"

message 2: by GS (new)

GS Freed (gsfreed) | 6 comments Hi, Kenny.

Is this the meat of the blurb or will more be added to it? I only ask because sometimes there's a 'headline' for the blurb -- a one-sentence or one-line summary of the story's hook. For example, it might lead with an intriguing detail about the 'mountain' Alex is dealing with at the story's beginning. Then the line at the end will be a callback to the headline.

The places where I stumbled a little bit on my first read:
"...a promise, shared inside the comforts of her closet with her best friend."

I didn't know that this was a past promise. At first, I thought that Alex and Abby still regularly shared things in Alex's closet.

"All Abby wants is to stay by her side..."
This felt abrupt to me. I didn't know who Abby was or who 'her' was referring to. This sentence transitioned into a new point of view so I think I needed help seeing that. For example, "All best friend Abby wants is to stay by Alex's side..." When the point of view changes, I think it might be helpful to think of it as if it were the actual first sentence of the blurb.

"Stained with a heart too greedy and selfish to be fixed..."
Could this be explained a little bit more? Alex's weakness is introduced at the end of the blurb, but I didn't understand it's meaning.

It seems like greed and selfishness would have a motivation for them since Abby cares about Alex so deeply. To Abby, Alex hasn't been these things so I was confused about why Alex is characterized in this way. Moreover, it seems that Alex values the promise shared with her friend more than the friendship itself as she chooses to lie to keep the hope of the promise alive. Showing what Alex is losing or what she could lose without the promise might help to make her decision understandable when considering what she's going through.

If these weaknesses are something that Alex struggles with throughout the story, I would have those struggles and weaknesses earlier and also how it affects her relationships. But if this is something that Alex comes to discover about herself, becomes aware of later in the story, then I would simply state that.

The blurb overall is vague to me. It seems the focus on the story will be on Alex and Abby's relationship and their inner journeys. But I don't know the context and so the story presented here felt abstract and hazy.

Something in Abby's life is sucking the color out of it. Something is making Abby helpless to keep a promise. Something has led Alex to be greedy and selfish. Something leads Alex to taint her friendship.

Where do Alex and Abby live? Is there a story-long activity they're engaged in? A place they visit for an extended period together? A task they are trying to accomplish? What locks Alex and Abby together? Or, is there an external (not between Abby & Alex nor within Alex) struggle Alex faces or has to deal with regularly? An opposing force that Alex can't deal with at the start that she has to learn to confront and then maybe be able to deal with at the end?

I'd mention new external pressures that will be present throughout the story because knowing those helps in understanding the kind of story this is, whether a road-trip, adventure, responsibilities in day-to-day life, move to a new place, school-life, etc.

When I read this, I wondered if maybe this was a "less is more" kind of situation. For example, the blurb for How to Make Friends with the Dark -- It's very simple and very striking.

I like stories about friendships, young women, and how traumas can get in the way of the relationship. Your story sounds interesting.

Hope my comments didn't go on too long.

message 3: by Kenny (new)

Kenny (kenny_valentine) | 61 comments Hi GS,

Thank you so so much for your thorough and detailed feedback. It is exactly what I needed to know!

I tried to rework the blurb based on your feedback. I included some more details to clarify the setting and what's at stake for the main character (Alex). I got rid of Abby's POV in the blurb to have more focus on Alex's story. I also tried to tie the beginning of the blurb with the end.

This is what I came up with:

"Eight year-old Alex watches her world crumble as her wish for a new brother costs her everything she once had. Left with nothing, Alex grows greedy and selfish. Her only source of hope is a promise, shared inside her closet with her best friend, Abby. A promise to always be together.

As high school starts and new relationships spark, Alex becomes aware of feelings she never knew she had for Abby. Jealousy taints her already greedy and selfish heart. Alex is willing to pay any price as long as she gets to keep Abby. Even if it means keeping secrets from her best friend. Even if it means telling a lie. Or two.

But when the pile of lies turns into a mountain, and the staircase of secrets falls apart, is there a way down without her world crumbling again?"

The story is dual-POV and starts when Alex and Abby are eight, but 90% of it follows them through their first three years of high school. There is no ultimate, external goal that the characters are chasing after. Alex's main fear is losing Abby and everything she does in the story is motivated by that fear. It's more or less about their journey in life as they grow and figure out themselves. Both characters undergo a list of varying struggles, be that family, school or love. The story deals in heavy themes, including: psychological trauma, child abuse, sexual assault, substance abuse, self-harm, emotional manipulation, and under-age sex.

Once again, thank you very much for your detailed feedback and I hope you are staying safe.

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