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Author Topic: Blurb for BEYOND THE PROPHECY
Meredith
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This is the third book in my DUAL MAGICS series.

Here's my first stab at a blurb:

quote:

The two kinds of magic have always been separate—until now.

Vatar is one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic.

As old enemies resurface and the traditional bases of power shift one the verge of war, Vatar is faced with choices that test both his abilities and his honor.

When no choice is good, what really is the justifiable use of his magic?

And is it really true, as he’s claimed, that it’s impossible to imprison someone who can do what he can?

Second attempt (probably too wordy):

quote:
The two kinds of magic have always been separate—until now.

Vatar is one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic. One inherited from the rulers of the coastal cities, the other gained by initiation into one of the clans of the plains-dwelling tribe he was born into. The two kinds of magic interact and enhance each other, sometimes in unexpected ways.

As power shifts in his adopted city and old enemies return to threaten both his city and his tribe, Vatar is left with choices that test his honor. Is it better to support the old rulers for the sake of stability? Or expose the lie on which their power is based to those struggling to forge a new way, in spite of the chaos that is sure to follow?

His magic will also be tested. Is it true, as he’s claimed, that it’s impossible to imprison someone who can do what he can? His life will depend on the answer.

Third try:

quote:
Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center of turmoil. In more ways than one.

As power shifts in his adopted city, Vatar must choose. Support the traditional rulers for the sake of stability, even though their rule is based on a lie. Or reveal that lie and help those who would create a new order. Only Vatar, in possession of the secret and with ties to both sides, is in a position to decide which is best.

But that choice will have to wait while he tries to find a way to deal with enemies gathering on the border. Foes that could mean disaster for both his city and the plains-dwelling tribe who raised him. And only magic can provide a reliable defense. Magic the plains people fear more than any enemy.

But when he’s captured by one of those enemies, Vatar will have to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die.

As always, rip, tear, shred.

[ June 06, 2015, 11:53 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

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wetwilly
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Sounds like an interesting story, so the blurb succeeds at that. The 4th line sounds sort of clinical and dry to me. It's a philosophically interesting question, but as posed here, it feels sort of distant and academic.
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Denevius
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I feel that I've made this comment quite a few times with writing you've posted, but if the style has proven successful for you, go for it.

For me, though, it feels a bit bland. As Wetwill says, distant and academic. There's not one particularly original image or phrasing of speech in this blurb.

But again, if it works, it works.

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JSchuler
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Generic.

As all stories have been told, the more generic the description, the less original the presentation.

"Two kinds of magic:" What kinds?

"As old enemies resurface:" What enemies?

"The traditional bases of power:" What bases?

"shift one[sp] the verge of war:" That does tend to be the prelude to 99.9% of wars.

"Vatar is faced with choices:" What choices?

"that test both his abilities:" What abilities? His magic?

"When no choice is good, what really is the justifiable use of his magic?" You've just told me the main character has no motivation.

"who can do what he can:" What can he do?

I'm not buying the story due to the lack of anything specific aside from the main character's name, but that fourth sentence makes me run away.

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wetwilly
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Second JSchuler. I think getting more specific will breathe some life into this.

Example: "Two kinds of magic" gives me a premise that is interesting enough, but as Denevius said, it's a bit bland. "One kind of magic that gives life, and one that feeds on it," or, "Earth magic and blood magic," or, "space magic and ninja magic," or whatever the case may be. The specifics are going to draw me in better than the general premise. (Don't discount my opinion just because I suggested a story with space magic vs. ninja magic--it was just an example.) (Although, feel free to discount my opinion because you disagree with it. Just don't discount it because of the space ninja magic thing.) Likewise for the rest of it. Like JSchuler suggested, get specific. The more specific, the more interesting. The less specific, the less interesting. This is pretty unspecific.

(Anyway, a story about space ninja magic would be friggin' sweet.)

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Meredith
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Newer version above.
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Denevius
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The details are definitely better. The only thing missing now is an original image or turn of phrase. I think if you substitute that for one of these lines you already have written, that'd be enough.
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Grumpy old guy
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For me, personally, it sounds like other stories I've read before--I don't want to say cliche, but perhaps a generic tale. Thus, IMHO, you need to strike a quirkier approach, something from out of left field.

Vatar can't be imprisoned: is it boast or fact? Can you build on that?

Phil.

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MattLeo
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I like the second blurb better, in that it doesn't read so much like a bullet list.

I understand that world-building is a critical aspect of the appeal of epic fantasy, but you have to draw readers into that world with things they understand. The two-magic thing may be one of the major pleasures a reader takes away from the story, but the fact that there are two kinds of magic signifies nothing to us yet. So I think we can dispense with the opening sentence. And the fact that Vatar inherits *two* kinds of magic eliminates the need to explain that there *are* two kinds of magic. Anyone can understand and respond to a gift that is a mixed bag, so that's a better thing to lead with.

Likewise we can take it for granted that each kind of magic interacts and enhances the other. I think it's usually a mistake to try to over-brief a blurb reader on stuff he'll need to know to understand the story; what he needs to understand is the story's appeal: an identifiable protagonist faced with choices in an interesting context that needn't be explained in in-world terms yet.

I agree with your intuition that the blurb is a bit wordy yet. Take this bit:
quote:
Is it better to support the old rulers for the sake of stability? Or expose the lie on which their power is based to those struggling to forge a new way, in spite of the chaos that is sure to follow?
Note that the second sentence makes the first sentence unnecessary in this context. We don't need the additional background briefing that informs us the old rulers represent stability; that's something we can intuit for ourselves.

quote:
His magic will also be tested. Is it true, as he’s claimed, that it’s impossible to imprison someone who can do what he can? His life will depend on the answer.
Here again we can take the first sentence for granted. The second sentence I think is the sharp point of your hook. The ancient politics of the world is of no interest to the uniformed reader, but here's a question he can understand right away: does Vatar's double-dose magic make him impossible to hold prisoner? I'd bring this closer to the top of the blurb and move the political implications to the bottom. In outline, I'd consider conveying the information in this order:
  1. Vatar has two kinds of magic, one from X and one from Y.
  2. Vatar believes he cannot be imprisoned because of this.
  3. If he's right, this puts Vatar in a unique position to choose between perpetuating the lie behind the status quo, or the chaos that will follow change.
  4. If he's wrong, he's toast no matter what he chooses.
In other words, frame the *political* choices in terms of the *personal* choices, not vice versa.

There is a certain top-down logic to explaining the world and history as the context for a protagonist's personal choices, but I've become convinced that in story openings, blurbs, query letters a lot of the art is to harness the reader's inductive talents to infer context.

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extrinsic
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An individual possesses proscribed magical abilities. That, to me, is the substantive action that is danced around in tell mode, is more artfully shown instead. The blurb focuses on the tangible and superficial action and misses altogether the intangible and more appealing and meaningful action; to wit, the moral human condition crisis and struggle. which best practice could be implied. With what vice-virtue clash does Vatar contend? Pride-humility seems projected though not as strongly and clearly as could be ideally implied -- his pride-humility and others' pride-humility confrontations.

Hatrack followers know of my considerations for rhetorical questions and everyday conversational language, like use of "as" for a coordination conjunction and to start a sentence, paragraph, etc., instead of its more exact grammatical function of idea correlation. Excise, recast, out pesky grammar glitches! On the other hand, they are as common as soil for self-published works and blurbs and etc.

Both versions to me read too clinically precise. They also use emphatic grammatical mood emptily. Specificity that's emotionally lackluster is empty and unappealing. The emphatic language forces emotional meaning that is unsupported by the content.

Consider: Use emphatic mood for strong and clear emotional commentary. Use conjunctions timely, sparingly, judiciously, precisely, for best practice reader effect appeal and ease of reading and comprehension.

Consider: Focus on the substantive action; that is, the moral human condition crisis and struggle for Vatar. His wrath, for example, turns vice into virtue to overcome prideful, self-serving proscriptions.

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WB
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What JSchuler said, at least at the start. Since I never knew what the two types of magic were, nothing made sense. Tell us! (If this is the way you want to go.)
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Meredith
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I am trying to work on this blurb. (Blurbs are like queries--hard. In the meantime, it might be useful to provide the blurbs for the first two books. I'd rather not be repetitive.

THE SHAMAN'S CURSE:
quote:
Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend--and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the vengeful shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. In his isolation, Vatar finds some comfort in daydreams. He knows the strange girl he sometimes imagines is just that--a dream. She’d better be.

Because, if she’s real things could get even worse for Vatar. The accepted magic of Vatar’s plains tribe wouldn’t enable him to see or communicate with a girl he doesn’t even know--or know where to find. That would be more like the magic passed down in certain, closely-guarded bloodlines among the ruling class of the coastal cities. And that’s bad. Very bad.

Unlike their own, Vatar’s people think the city magic is evil. If the shaman ever found out, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar. And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy.

The two kinds of magic have always been totally separate. Until now.

THE VOICE OF PROPHECY:
quote:

When the two kinds of magic combine in one person, unexpected things happen.

Sensing the presence of lions is one thing. Any member of the Lion Clan could do that. When Vatar sees the hunt through the eyes of one of the big cats—well, that’s something else altogether. And that’s only the beginning of the unusual manifestations of his magic.

When a mysterious voice only he can hear volunteers ancient wisdom, Vatar knows he’s in trouble. After enduring an Ordeal to prove he isn’t haunted by an Evil Spirit, Vatar thinks he may be possessed after all. Or losing his mind. Or cursed.

He must hide his Talent from his magic-fearing people or face consequences that don’t bear thinking about. But he has to control it in order to keep it secret. And now he’s not sure he can. It’s enough to make him want to give up on magic altogether.

But he’s going to need all his wits—and all the magic he can muster—to defeat those who want to use him and his unique abilities for their own ends.


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Meredith
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Newer version above.
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Denevius
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I said this earlier, but all of the blurbs of yours that I've read have the same deficiency in my opinion. They're all more or less generic.

I guess now I just wonder what your goal is. If you have an established audience, then any of the three blurbs you posted for this newest novel should work, as your readers are already invested in your fiction.

If you're trying to gain new readers, I'm left unsure that even this newest version of the blurb is going to work.

quote:
Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center of turmoil. In more ways than one.

There simply isn't one original or unique aspect to this sentence. 'Graced' and 'cursed' are overused adjectives in genre fiction. Every time I see 'Vatar', I think 'Vader', honestly. 'Turmoil' gives me no specifics, and so doesn't excite my curiosity.

I feel that most of the people who have commented here have said the same thing to various degrees, but I think you're honestly capturing the narrative of the novel, and either a reader will be engaged by it or not. I think this blurb is a good preview of the novel as a whole.

I, personally, only see what's been done before, and so am not engaged with what's been written. And I have a feeling that the unique aspect I'm looking for in the blurb simply doesn't exist in the novel, and so there's only so much that the blurb can do in sounding "different". So I say run with what you have.

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Grumpy old guy
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At least with the third version I get a sense of who Vatar is and his essential dilemma. I think version three would appeal to readers who haven't yet read book 1 or 2, so that's a plus--unless book 1 and 2 are not essentially stand alone stories within a larger narrative.

Phil.

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wetwilly
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V3 is better. Still a place where I feel it's a little too vague:

"In possession of the secret..." What secret? It seems like this is something I'm supposed to understand. You don't have to give it away, but at least let me know what it's about. The secret of what the Gods are really planning, or the secret of what really makes magic work, or whatever.

On rereading, I realized the secret is that the rulers are corrupt. I missed it on first reading. Don't know if that was my reading deficiency or your writing deficiency. Maybe just take a look.

I get the use of sentence fragments for stylistic effect, but this blurb is almost all sentence fragments. Of 11 "sentences," 8 are incomplete fragments. I think that's excessive. I would try to smooth that out.

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Meredith
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@extrinsic:
Maybe. That's something that's probably best judged by others, not me.

Maybe I'm just struggling to articulate what makes the story unique and still give enough of an idea of the story. Like this reviewer I think the world building is more unique than the magic. But while that hopefully adds to the reading pleasure, it's not usually going to sell books. Which is what the blurb has to do--while being only about 200 words.

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extrinsic
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That Amazon review and others for the saga and self-publication and reviews thereof in general suffer lack of focused specificity too. Overall, this and the antecedent installments to me attempt realistic reports though are emotionally frigid from underdeveloped meaningfulness and causal, natural reaction. The more significant emotional portion of the action, the emotional energy, the passions, are under-realized, to me. Emotional appeals are what recommend and sell narratives.

[ June 07, 2015, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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