Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » The Bard's Gift Blurb

   
Author Topic: The Bard's Gift Blurb
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Looks like I'm going to be preparing to e-publish THE BARD'S GIFT. This worked out really well for Shimiqua, so I'm going to ask for your excellent help with my blurb, too. Here it is:

Version 2:

quote:
Sixteen-year-old Astrid keeps mostly to herself, finding companionship in the stories her grandmother used to tell. She's too shy even to talk in front of Torolf, the young man she secretly dreams of. Then the Norse god of eloquence appears in Astrid's dreams and forces her to drink the Mead of Poetry. Suddenly, she's compelled to tell her stories. In public. Even in front of Torolf.

Astrid is meant to use these stories to guide her people from starvation in Greenland to a better future in Markland. A place legends claim is the abode of dragons. But not all of her fierce and independent people are willing to follow a mere girl--especially when she counsels peace. Some have other plans for the new land and want to use Astrid and her gift as a tool.

Torolf never dreamed that quiet Astrid, daughter of the chieftain, could choose him. Now he's stranded in Iceland as she sails in the opposite direction. To attain the promise of a future with Astrid, he'll have to attempt the impossible--sailing alone across the North Atlantic.

Together, they might change the fate of their people and even defy the plans the gods have made for them.

Version 1:

quote:
Sixteen-year-old Astrid keeps mostly to herself, finding companionship in the stories her grandmother used to tell. She's too shy even to talk in front of Torolf, the young man she secretly dreams of. Then the Norse god of eloquence appears in Astrid's dreams and forces her to drink the Mead of Poetry. Suddenly, she's compelled to tell her stories. In public. Even in front of Torolf.

Her reward is the discovery that Torolf likes her, too. But they've barely enjoyed their first kiss when the seeress makes a prophecy that splits them apart. The gods have chosen Astrid to lead her people from starvation in Greenland to a better future in Markland, in a place legends claim is the abode of dragons. Her stories are meant to act as a guide. Torolf can't go with her on this journey. The new colony will need supplies Greenland just can't provide. He must sail in the opposite direction to Iceland and back.

That leaves Astrid alone, with only her stories for a weapon, against enemies within her people, hostile natives, and a thunderbird that looks a lot like a dragon to a girl raised on stories of Norse heroes. Of all of them, only the thunderbird has the potential to be an ally, if Astrid can figure out how to appease him. The answer to that may lie in her stories, too.



[ December 28, 2013, 11:26 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

Posts: 3711 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Anybody?
Posts: 3711 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Straightforward summary of events, characters, and settings. For me, that is both a strength and a shortcoming. On one hand, I can determine if the subject matter interests me. On the other hand, there is litlle intriguing mystery left for me to satisfy.

I can generalize in how to develop the mystery and intrigue of this jacket blurb. I cannot do so specifically without imposing my creative vision upon it. I'm conflicted, too, by caring about the novel's performance but not caring much yet about the novel's content.

At another level of assessment, since the blurb to me more or less straightforwardly gives away the dramatic action of the whole, I assume the content will too from the beginning and throughout. I cannot see myself reading an entire novel knowing the outcomes from the outset. If this were a history account, where I knew the overall outcome beforehand, I might be interested in the details, say about the rise and fall of Viking settlement in the New World. As a creative writing work, though, I expect an outcome to both be surprising and satisfying when the ending arrives.

Though the final outcome isn't given in the blurb, I can confidently assume outcomes will be favorable for Astrid, that the story type is the conventional conflict resolution type of a simple plot, and that some obstacles and setbacks will crop up with few, if any, major surprising turns (anagnorisis--profound discovery; and perepiteia--profound reversal: features of a complex plot). But for tension's sakes developing doubt of outcomes is to me generally underrealized for the blurb and from projecting therefrom for the whole.

Assuming the above favorable outcomes and conflict resolution, another layer of meaning I think is called for, a deeper one that, while perhaps intangible, nonetheless is a kernel "natural object" that generates strong and clear appeals. Specifically what, I don't know and can't say. In general though, something exciting and surprising that's implied.

Overall, I'd say that from a writer knowing a whole novel's drama handicaps it by leaving little doubt of the ouctome from the beginning.

This novel's blurb gives several dramatic complications: Astrid's storytelling gift, her love interest, dragons, the thunderbird, the people's privation, native and home nemeses, and the Norse god of eloquence. Consider which one is foremost and potentially most appealing and focus on it in terms of the others' relevance to it. Focus is crucial for any composition. I think the thunderbird is potentially the most compelling dramatic complication.

Perhaps a bridging complication might be foremost at first, say that Astrid's people generally treat her as if she were a Jonah cursing them with misfortune. She at first believes she is their Jonah, spoiling this and that, breaking this and that, blameable for every unfortunate turn of events, unable to help herself. The only way she can earn their respect is to bring them good fortune. Through trial and error and intervention of the gods she finds a path, a difficult one she cannot manage on her own at first. She matures, a coming of age initiation process, perhaps the "natural object" of the whole, and learns to cope with her drawbacks and make them into strengths. Emphasize Astrid's weaknesses and underplay her strengths to generate doubt. Imply her weaknesses are bound to cause her failure. Readers will infer she cannot possibly succeed at garnering respect, but not that she's an idiot. That's a way to generate doubt. Doubt is a cornerstone of curiosity development for tension's sake. But what then does that path lead to? Everything else.

As this blurb is, Astrid is a writer surrogate who is a more than able Mary Sue capable of satisfying her dramatic complications. Stronger and clearer would make her a pitiable but lovable for it creature who readers would come to respect as she comes to be respected by her people.

But focus on portraying an opening complication that develops reader tension: empathy and curiosity from the causal antagonsim that compels Astrid to act. Leave as much mystery as possible for the novel itself to reveal.

[ December 21, 2013, 07:04 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 2903 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks. That gives me some directions to try out. [Smile]
Posts: 3711 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My main concern isn't a real concern. What's posted here seems like YA fiction directed at a teen girl audience. I am neither a teen, nor a girl, so the blurb doesn't particularly interest me. However, that's why it's also not really a concern, as obviously, a guy in his mid 30s isn't your intended audience.

Having said that, the only thing I would change is the last line:

quote:
The answer to that may lie in her stories, too.
This is a dull way to conclude the blurb. There's no hints of dramatic tension, and none of these words pop off the page. The 'too' makes this seem like an afterthought, which isn't exactly inspiring.
Posts: 437 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
New version above.

Rip, tear, shred.

Posts: 3711 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
legolasgalactica
Member
Member # 10087

 - posted      Profile for legolasgalactica   Email legolasgalactica         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This version is MUCH better.

A few small things:
The relevance of a mere girl was a little confusing until I found out she was the chieftain's daughter near the end. Perhaps mention that near the beginning.

I would also change the hanging preposition in "the young man she secretly dreams of," to secretly admires or of her dreams.
And the last line: I liked it but I wonder aren't fate and the plans of the gods the same? Either way I'd try to make the last part about defying the god's plans more concise: perhaps ... change the fate of their people and even defy the plans of the gods. If you meant the fate of the people generally and the specific plans of the gods for Astrid and Torolf perhaps break up the sentence.

Posts: 139 | Registered: Jun 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks. I'll work on it a bit more.

Good to know I'm on the right track. [Smile]

Posts: 3711 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
legolasgalactica
Member
Member # 10087

 - posted      Profile for legolasgalactica   Email legolasgalactica         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Just so you know, the revised blurb drew my interest a lot. Whereas the title didn't do much for me despite the multiple times it's cropped up around hatrack. After reading the blurb, I'd actually want to read it! Success!
The first one, however, as mentioned above, just quickly summarized the story.

Posts: 139 | Registered: Jun 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm reminded of a point Extrinsic made in the conversation we had in the 'Side Characters' thread.

quote:
He notes that focal viewpoint characters are often underdeveloped, especially first person narrators, when they are too much writer surrogate characters. Writers know themselves too well or too little, or their focal characters' viewpoints reflecting their own, to develop them dimensionally and dynamically.
I haven't read this novel, but there's something about the blurb which reminds me a little of the point that was addressed here.

I know nothing about you, but the way you paint your character here feels so common to how many writers develop their main characters, as kind of this shy, introverted individual with a special power. Basically, how the writer sees themselves.

quote:
Sixteen-year-old Astrid keeps mostly to herself, finding companionship in the stories her grandmother used to tell. She's too shy even to talk in front of Torolf, the young man she secretly dreams of.
This character, the shy girl afraid to talk to the boy of her dreams, has been done a lot. And it doesn't really give us, perspective readers, any interesting caveats about Astrid which convinces us to read further. From your description, I'm left unsure who Astrid is, what type of personality she has, or why I'd want to spend time with her.

But another point that was made in that thread was that character is a bit lower in importance in genre fiction. And with your blub, my interest starts to be piqued when we get past what is a somewhat lackluster character to the actual plot:

quote:

Astrid is meant to use these stories to guide her people from starvation in Greenland to a better future in Markland.

I kind of feel that you should start here. Astrid as an individual isn't very compelling, but the story of the narrative journey she's supposed to take is more compelling.
Posts: 437 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Stronger development of mystery for the second version, Still, though, I feel the blurb gives away the plot, due to reasonable assumptions Astrid will successfully satisfy the dramatic complications. And that the writer surrogacy is still on the strong side of self-idealization and self-efficacy.

Middle grade literature can be and often is on the strong conflict resolution prevalence and writer surrogacy side. However, at sixteen, Astrid's age makes this to me firmly a young adult fiction. I feel that age group will have challenges to willing suspension of disbelief due to those factors.

I too am inclined to feel that, as a character emphasis, this blurb focuses more on Astrid's personal and private development rather than event development. Three of the four emphases of Orson Scott Card's M.I.C.E. quotient theory are also narrative theoriticians' requisite narrative "existents": Event, Character, and Setting, or in Card's: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event; milieu and setting being somewhat interchangeable.

This blurb emphasizes character. Again, young adult fantastical narratives tend to favor event emphasis and fantasy favoring somewhat equally setting and event.

On the other hand, stronger character emphasis would pose Astrid as a more fully rounded and dynamic character. Her being shy, as Denevius notes, is fairly outworn, and perhaps a cliché of young adult narratives for its deprecated ennui and angst aspects. To me, shyness is one-dimensional without a causal development. Say that Astrid is shy because . . . I don't know, she's a young woman in a male-dominated society that objectifies her and otherwise is indifferent toward her due to her youth and sex.

I'm thinking of Pocahontas as a singularly influential Native woman, for example. The term Pocahontas means little wanton, given to her by her father for her unrestrained childhood antics. She was his favorite because she made him notice her among the dozens of his wives and children. This, in turn, also led to John Smith and John Rolfe taking notice of her. She changed allegiances to them over her own father's wishes. On at least three occasions Pocahontas tipped off the Anglais about her father's assassination plans.

Anyway, I don't have much affinity for Astrid or the dramatic action yet.

[ December 30, 2013, 06:26 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 2903 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Still, though, I feel the blurb gives away the plot, due to reasonable assumptions Astrid will successfully satisfy the dramatic complications.
This is something else we discussed, and I agree, in this case it kind of works against the blurb. The readers *do* know that Astrid is going to eventually prevail at the end, and so you have to give them something else to want them to read the novel that I think the blurb is missing.

PItches, blurbs, and synopsis are like resumes, in my opinion. You probably shouldn't lie, but nor are you exactly telling the truth. You weren't a cashier for five years at Baskin Robbins, you were a Customer Service Specialist. This means nothing, but it sounds better. You plant the seeds of your potential in an employer's mind, while leaving a bit of mystery of exactly what your position was.

How often is it said that the best things about movies are the previews? Too many movies follow very conventional, predictable narratives, and the previews are there to obfuscate this and make it all seem so exciting and new.

Like, I haven't read your novel, but maybe you should write the blub almost as if it's its own flash fiction piece, the object of which is just to pump readers up and get them amped to read on.

Posts: 437 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2