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Author Topic: Waxling blurb
shimiqua
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Final Blurb

There is no one like me.
I am not human, nor animal, nor art piece.
I am a weird thing, and I was created to die.
Slowly.
By the hand of those who protect me.
I only have a month to live.
I only have a month to love.
For there is one who loves me.
I will break him when I die.

If he does not break me first.

Blurb 8

Blake Wilkes has trained to steal a monster’s heart.
He knows what knife to use to open the wax.
He knows what words to say to capture the Waxling’s Great Wish for himself, and every weakness he’s ever hidden was beaten out of him long ago.
So when the Singer’s make that living wax creature, he’ll be waiting with his knives.
Cold and deadly. Ready to strike.
He needs the miracle of the Great Wish to save his mother’s life, and he will do anything to steal that Waxling’s heart.
He just didn’t expect his own heart to be stolen in the process.


Blurb 7
Someone has to die to make a Waxling.
The wax is poured into the freshly cast death mask. A certain seed is placed inside where the heart should be, the song is sung, and the creature comes to life.
Seventeen year old Ari is a Singer who doesn’t believe. Waxlings cannot be real. There’s no way her parents would allow someone to die for this madness. And no matter what they say about the Great Wish, it’s not worth everything she’s had to give up. But it’ll be her job, at the end of the Waxling’s short life, to pull out the Waxling’s heart and light the seed on fire, while the Waxling makes the wish that could stop a war, or end an illness. While the Waxling makes a miracle.
But miracles are worth dying for. And for the Wicked, or Wicks as they call themselves, the Great Wish is worth killing for.
Handsome outcast Blake Wilkes is a Wicked in need of a miracle. He needs the Waxling's wish to save his dying mother, and he will do anything to steal that monster’s heart.
Even if his own heart gets stolen in the process.


Newest blurb
Someone has to die to make a Waxling. The wax is poured into a death mask freshly cast. A seed from a plant which blooms once every sixteen years is placed inside where the heart should be, and then the song is sung.
Seventeen year-old Ari is a Singer who doesn’t believe. Waxlings cannot be real. There’s no way her parents would allow someone to die for this lie. And no matter what they say about the Great Wish, it’s not worth everything she’s had to give up. But it’s her job, at the end of the Waxling’s short life, to pull out the Waxling’s heart and light the seed on fire, while the Waxling makes a wish that could stop a war, or end an illness. While the Waxling makes a miracle.
Blake needs that miracle to save his dying mother, and he will do anything to capture that magic.
Even if he has to steal a heart to do it.


Blurb take 5 plus entrinsic's comments...Is this what you mean?

For centuries, creatures made of wax and clay have served humans.
For centuries, humans made of kindness and sacrifice have let them.
And for centuries, humans made of avarice and greed have hunted those made of kindness or wax.
They’ve tracked us, and we've run. They've killed us, and we started again. One loved me, and I didn't know what to do.

But I know one thing...

Centuries end today.
Centuries end with me.


Blurb take 4 (alliteration on drugs)
For centuries, creatures made of wax and clay have served humans.
For centuries, humans made of kindness and sacrifice have let them.
And for centuries, humans made of selfishness and sin have hunted those made of service or sacrifice.

But the centuries end today.
Centuries end with me.


Blurb take 3 (alliteration)
For centuries, creatures made of wax and clay have served humans.
For centuries, humans made of kindness and sacrifice have let them.
And for centuries, humans made of selfishness and sin have hunted those made of kindness or wax.

But the centuries end today.
Centuries end with me.


Blurb take 2

For centuries, creatures made of wax and clay have served humans.
For centuries, humans made of kindness and sacrifice have let them.
And for centuries, humans made of avarice and greed have hunted those made of kindness or wax. They’ve tracked us, and killed us, and trapped us.

Centuries end today.
Centuries end with me.


Blurb

For centuries, creatures made of wax and clay served humanity from the shadows. These Waxlings gave their short lives for us humans, for the sake of a wish.
For centuries, my people, the Singers, have sacrificed money, normality, even their lives so that these monsters can have theirs. For centuries we’ve been hunted by those who wish to steal the wish for themselves.
For centuries, these Waxlings have been things of nightmares, yet their brief lives have blessed us all. For centuries, these creatures have never known love.
Centuries ended today.
Centuries ended… with her.

Questions
1. Would you buy this book?
2. Should I mention specific character names? Am I too generic? Do you get a modern vibe, or a second world fantasy vibe?
3. Is the repetition too much? Does it add or distract?
4. Do you understand what a Waxling is? (think golem)

Thanks!

[ November 13, 2013, 12:43 PM: Message edited by: shimiqua ]

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I'm going to be quite critical here, shimiqua, because I like the (second world fantasy) story hints you provide (particular anything to do with "golems", per my religious heritage), but I find the blurb too obtuse and confusing for me to go further.

First sentence: I like the idea.

Second sentence: Not sure what "for the sake of a wish" means. I also wish to know what motivates the Waxlings to make such a sacrifice? Or, "being made" (by humans, presumably), this is the purpose for which they were made [much like Dorian Gray's portrait].

Third sentence: Who are the Singers exactly? What do you mean by sacrificing their "normality"?
Who are the "monsters" the Singers refer to: the Waxlings (though their sacrifice seems noble if, I'm surmising, unwilling)? Or the human beings who utilize the Waxlings for this purpose?

Fourth sentence: What do you mean by "the wish". It seems you are using this common word uncommonly.

Fifth Sentence: Waxlings are "things of nightmares" yet "served humanity" and "gave up their short lives for humans"?

Sixth sentence and on: Why didn't the Waxlings "know love"? Who's "her"?

This all sounds familiar. Perhaps I read a sample chapter, or previous blurb, in the past?
Good luck.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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MattLeo
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OK, let me focus on the repetition, and why it doesn't in my opinion work.

Intellectually, it's obvious that you're using a rhetorical device here. That's cool, but it doesn't work on the ear. It doesn't have music. If you want the rhetoric to actually accomplish something, it's got to work at a gut level.

Try reading your blurb out loud and you'll see what I mean. Now try out the following:
quote:

For centuries, they served us.
For centuries, we sacrificed for them.
And for centuries others strove to steal them from us.

But the centuries ended today. The centuries ended with her.

This is not to rewrite your blurb; it's perhaps too cryptic for that. It just illustrates what I'm talking about. By just shortening the phrasing the repetition starts to work on a rhythmic level. I've even syncopated the rhythm so it won't feel so mechanical: "For centuries... For centuries... And for centuries..." is like "Dum,dum,dee-dum." You can also syncopate by modulating the length of the lines: pease porridge hot/pease porridge cold/ pease porridge in the pot nine days old.

Then to further signal the reader this is heightened language I threw in some alliteration, although it's crude I know.

The Gettysburg address is worth studying if you want to do this sort of thing. My example started right out with obvious rhetoric, but note how Lincoln builds up a head of steam over two short paragraphs before he breaks out the drum: we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate [note alliteration AND rhyme], we cannot hallow... He gives us a longer tattoo on the drum: that/that/that. Then he finished up with a brief rat-a-tat:of the people/by the people/and for the people.

Lincoln wrote this speech form himself to speak, so you can also see where he repeated initial consonants, scattering them through the speech to give him places to add stress. This is also rhythmic, but more like jazz than the oom-pah-pah example I gave.

Otherwise the main issue with the blurb is that it has too much detail to process for someone taking a quick look. A blurb has to focus on what's going to sell the book.

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shimiqua
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Dr. Bob. I emailed you about this when I started working on it. That's probably why it sounds familiar.

Thank you, both. I'm off to work on it.

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shimiqua
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New version above.
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MattLeo
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Quick remarks because I've got to run. More later perhaps, but briefly:

You've obviously got the rhetoric idea down. Your new versions are much more attention getting. Now you need to focus on sealing the deal. Do I want to read this book? I think that takes a bit more than intriguing the reader, you've got to show this is the kind of book he feels like reading right now.

The idea of the protagonist addressing the reader in the blurb is interesting; it's almost cinematic, like a movie trailer. Possibly you could have a brief paragraph following in a third person narrator voice (perhaps the protag's words are italic?) that places the novel's genre for the reader, but obviously not *explicitly* (e.g. "This is a 120,000 word steampunk/fantasy). I'm thinking it would frame the poetic words above somehow.

Sorry this is so disjointed, I've got to run now.

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extrinsic
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I think the second blurb set is stronger and clearer. However, I feel the prosody appeals are blunted by using alliteration solely and lengthy lines with unnecessary prepositions and conjunctions. Using syncrisis and accentual verse would spice up the prosody's fluency.

Syncrisis is comparison and contrast in parallel clauses. "The opening of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities uses alliteration, syncrisis, and accentual verse. The dactyl foot of the opening is the common and ideal one used in English verse. Dactyl is three syllables, first syllable stressed, next two syllables unstressed. For example, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

The blurbs in general might excite my interest by prosody appeals; however, I don't see a strong and clear engaging, curiosity-invoking dramatic feature that stands out and tells me what this novel is about that is relevant for its potential audience or me.

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shimiqua
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Newest version above.

MattLeo, it's a YA paranormal suspense romance...which is like a thing.

Did I sell that thing?

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I'm, of course, just speaking for myself; but the repetition doesn't work for me. Perhaps because I still do not understand the characters and conflicts being presented. I also find phrases like "humans made of kindness and sacrifice" awkward and vague.

I'd keep the proper names (Waxlings, Singers,...btw, is there one for the "hunters"?).

I still need to know"
Who made the Waxlings and why?
What is their relationship to (history with) the Singers?
Why are they both hunted (is it something about "the wish", which you've also dropped from your blurb)?

I'd suggest you answer these questions and be absolutely clear as glass in the blurb about who these three groups are, their relationship to one another, and what will be the conflict between them in your tale.

Do that first.
Then and only then consider in playing with prosody.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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extrinsic
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shimiqua,

You ask if this, the next version is what I mean. To a degree, yes. Though the prosody is somewhat blunted by conjunction "and" use. One writing principle on point is assertiveness from choosing either or, either wax or clay. Since humans are often analogously referred to as made of clay, I would choose wax. Similarly, "kindness" or "sacrifice," and so on.

This too, for example: "They’ve tracked us, and we've run. They've killed us, and we started again. One loved me, and I didn't know what to do." Leaving out "and" wouldn't change the meaning, though that would strengthen the impact. //They’ve tracked us; we've run. They've killed us; we started again. One loved me. I didn't know what to do.//

Adding in or beginning over with some kind of want or problem development I feel is more crucial than adjusting the prose and prosody, though. The original blurb has a germ I think of that. The unconventional, mysterious, and surprising use of "wish" caught my attention.

If this wish is a closely held gift of the wax people, one they may on rare occasions grant to deserving humans, I think that's inspired. Cueing that up in the blurb as wishing magic I think wouild serve. Humans wish and wishfully think all the time; rarely, if ever, are the wishes realized.

If that's intended, I feel that it's inspired. Granted wishes traditionally in literature and particularly folk tales are blessings as well as curses. Not much, if any, in the folklore canon, though, is about the personas who grant wishes. Exquisite potentials and promising drama there.

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shimiqua
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I agree with Dr. Bob on this one. Thank you everyone for your help making the language better, but I think the century thing was telling the wrong story.

Also, I had MAP in my head asking me about the characters, so here you go.

Newest version above.
Please tear it to shreds so I can make it better.

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MattLeo
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OK, I think this 6th version is nearer the mark of what a blurb should do, which is identify the book to somebody who might be interested in it.

Things that are good about this version: we've got some information about the kind of world it takes place in, and that it involves a kind of symbolic magic -- important for fantasy readers to know. We know the age of what I think is the protagonist -- seventeen -- and that's another data point. Do I want to read about a seventeen year-old girl? For most of us that's neither here nor there but it may prompt people in your target audience to pick it up.

The names mentioned (Ari, Blake) are familiar ones, although Ari is more frequently a boy's name. So we don't know whether this story takes place in a completely separate alternate universe, or in some kind of wainscoting society (like Harry Potter's wizarding world). I am guessing this is some kind of alternate universe, but if it's a wainscoting world that might be something you want to mention. People who like wainscoting worlds are attracted to the problem of how you hide a whole society in plain sight, so if you do that you need to let them know.

The transition to the second character (antagonist? foil?) is a bit rocky. First of all, the fragment at the end of the second paragraph reads like an editing error ("While the Waxling makes a miracle.") rather than a deliberate "rhetorical fragment", I think because the blurb continues on with a transition to Blake. It'd be fine at the end of the blurb.

Another thing to consider is that blurbs aren't usually read as closely as we are doing here. They're skimmed, sometimes with less than full attention. I try to skim blurbs people post here before studying them, and on my first glance through the transition to "Blake" threw me. "Wait a minute, isn't the protag named 'Ari'?" I thought. So then I doubled back to check and realized this is a second character. I think it helps to give some details about the second character to signal the reader that we're shifting focus to someone else, e.g. "Blake the cobbler's son needs a miracle..." Or some other kind of tradition, e.g., "And there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a miracle. Blake the pickpocket needs one to save his dying mother..."

The function of blurb is to sell the book, period. If it does that, it's done its job. But if we wnt to look at this from a marketing perspective, we have to ask, what is the state of mind of the prospect when he encounters this blurb? He's looking for something to read; he knows generally the kind of thing he wants, but not specifically what he's going to pick up. So the first thing a blurb does is tell him he's browsing in the right section (e.g. fantasy & sci-fi, or YA). The next thing he need know is what sub-type of novel he has in his hand (e.g. urban fantasy, steampunk). At that point he knows in a general sense what kind of reading experience you're offering, so the only thing left is to close the deal: you promise him something different from all the other books in the sub-genre (e.g. a YA epic fantasy, but told from the orc's viewpoint).

I think you're pretty close at this point, except for the mechanics of shifting focus to Blake.

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MAP
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See Sheena, you don't need me to comment. I'm already in your head. [Smile]

I like the sixth one the best because it has specific details that make your world sound interesting. The others were pretty writing, but they were too vague to really draw me. I agree with Matt that the transition to Blake is choppy. I think all you need is one line to smooth it over, and add another level of danger in saying something about there being hunters (or whatever they are called)that want to steal the waxling heart for their own gain.

Also, I'm wondering who the main character is. From the previous blurbs, I thought the main character was a waxling, but now the Singer is the main character? Maybe I was wrong before, but whoever the main character is, that should be the one used in the blurb.

Overall, I'm excited to read the story. So when are you going to send it to me? [Smile]

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Hi Shimiqua,

Your sixth attempt is better in clarifying the players and conflict in the story, yet it is now too much in some parts (detailing how to make a waxling) and not enough in others (Ari and Blake's motvations and how these two characters will be, I surmise, antagonists to each other).

First sentence [Someone has to die to make a Waxling.]: Great hook. Needs to stand alone in its own paragraph.

Second & Third sentences [The wax is poured into a death mask freshly cast. A seed from a plant which blooms once every sixteen years is placed inside where the heart should be, and then the song is sung.]: Too much. Instead, I need to know who dies to make a waxling? A singer like Ari? Or anyone?

Fourth through sixth sentences [Seventeen year-old Ari is a Singer who doesn’t believe. Waxlings cannot be real. There’s no way her parents would allow someone to die for this lie.]: Good character introduction; however you are suggesting that making Waxlings is a rare event among Singers or a secretive one hid from Singer children. If it is hid, is it because of shame or of respect for the personal sacrifice being made to make a Waxling? I am assuming the sacrifice is voluntary for, by Ari's reaction, the sanctity of Life appears to be part of Singer beliefs

Seventh sentence [And no matter what they say about the Great Wish, it’s not worth everything she’s had to give up.]: This is still too vague. What is the Great Wish? What is its importance, particularly in regard to Ari. What has she had to give up? You can hedge a little concerning what exactly the Great Wish is (as a tanatalizing hook), but how it personally impacts Ari (her death? her taking the life of another?) needs to be clearer.

Eighth and ninth sentences [But it’s her job, at the end of the Waxling’s short life, to pull out the Waxling’s heart and light the seed on fire, while the Waxling makes a wish that could stop a war, or end an illness. While the Waxling makes a miracle.]: Perhaps too much detail or wordage here as well--i.e. shorten this to the key element of taking the Waxling's heart while the Waxling makes a wish that... The major difficulty for me is contradiction. For example your chosen tense. If it is her job now, wouldn't she "believe" in Waxlings--contrarily to the statement in sentences four through six? This description of the Great Wish and the resultant miracle should be incorporated as part of sentence seven. However, there is a disconnect: Ari states a sanctity for life/abhorence of killing (Sentence six), but she does not consider "stopping a war" or "ending illness" as "worth everying she as had to give up" (Sentence seven)?

Tenth and Eleventh sentences [Blake needs that miracle to save his dying mother, and he will do anything to capture that magic. Even if he has to steal a heart to do it.]: This sudden introduction of a new character is jarring. Insert a line betwee the prior section and this short one. Who he is is also vague. Without being told otherwise, we need assume he is also a Singer/part of Ari's community. I'm assuming he is a "Hunter" whose heard of Waxlings and the wish/miracle that occurs when a Singer removes its heart. Blake will do anything to save his dying mother (good inclusion of his motivation).

I think you are getting closer.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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shimiqua
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Seventh is up. Thank you all for your help. You guys are amazing.

I feel like this is the right format, but now I need to polish up the trees, make the language so delicious that the reader has to pick it up.

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History
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Sent you an email. I don't think we are allowed to offer suggested revisions in-Forum (and this back-and-forth is just killing me).

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, you are supposed to be critiquing, not rewriting. But this is not a manuscript per se. I think suggested revisions of queries, synopses, and blurbs could be posted on the forum.
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Thank you, Kathleen.
Then this is what I shared with Shimqua:

Number 7 is better, but I still think this is too long. Remove the "rough" and present only the "diamonds":


Someone has to die for a Singer to make a Waxling.

Seventeen year old Ari is a Singer who doesn’t believe her parents would allow someone to die to create a Waxling, nor pull out a Waxling’s heart to summon a Great Wish, not even for one that could stop a war, or end a plague. Waxlings can make miracles. But are miracles worth dying for?

Or killing for? The Wicked think so. Blake Wilkes is a Wick in need of a miracle to save his dying mother, and he will do anything to steal a Waxling's heart.

What he didn't expect is that his own heart would be stolen in the process.

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shimiqua
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New blurb is up. What do you think?
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MAP
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I like seven better. Has more interesting details about the world.
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Unwritten
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Personally, I like blurb 8, but shortened and with pieces of blurb 7, and then a sentence at the end to tie the two together. Kind of like this:

Blake Wilkes has trained to steal a monster’s heart.
He knows what knife to use to open the wax.
He knows what words to say to capture the Waxling’s Great Wish for himself.
Every weakness he’s ever hidden was beaten out of him long ago.
So when the Singer’s make that living wax creature, he’ll be waiting with his knives.
Cold and deadly. Ready to strike.

Seventeen year old Ari is a Singer who doesn’t believe.
Someone has to die to make a Waxling.
So Waxlings cannot be real.
Her parents would never allow someone to die for this madness.
The Great Wish is not worth everything she’s had to give up.

And then a sentence to tie the two together.

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shimiqua
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Brand new idea, which I'm in love with. Check it, and let me know how to make it better.

Thanks everyone!

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MAP
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Sheena, I still love blurb seven. It sets up the characters, conflict, and world building very nicely. I find it very intriguing, and if I came across this blurb in a bookstore, I would have bought it.

Blurb 8 doesn't work as well for me because Blake is a little harder to relate to than Ari, and also you remove the making of the Waxling which I find really fascinating. I love the conflict that someone has to die to create this being, and that Ari is almost repulsed by it. It hints at great internal and external conflicts.

Blurb 9 feels like your going back to being poetic like the earlier ones. I understand why you want to go that way, but for me as a reader, I'm not that interested in poetic language. I want you to show me a fascinating premise rich with conflict and interesting characters. Blurb 7 does the best at delivering that to me than any of the others.

Of course this is all subjective, so maybe others disagree, and definitely take that all into consideration, but I think blurb 7 is still the winner.

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