Writing a quality blurb...

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Philabuster
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Writing a quality blurb...

Post by Philabuster » April 28th, 2014, 5:35 pm

I've been stuck writing this blurb for the past month, changing words here and there and moving sentences around and such. I've been so focused on it that now I think I'm too focused on it. I'm not even sure if it covers everything a blurb is supposed to, and I certainly don't know if it grabs the readers attention.

I just got my cover from my cover designer and it looks amazing. I'm so happy with it and I obviously want the blurb to shine as well. Can you guys give it a read and tell me what you think? Any ideas on how to make it better? Any blog posts that you would suggest I read on writing an excellent blurb?

Thanks in advance.


Martin’s lifelong gambling addiction hits a new low after losing five thousand dollars, his job, and his girlfriend Jenny all in the same bet. When she leaves him alone on the casino floor, his will to live leaves with her, and he devises a disturbing plan to take his own life. An unexpected series of events with a bachelor party stalls him long enough to meet Janice, a crass waitress who works at the hotel attached to the casino. Enamored by her, Martin’s will to live returns, but he learns that Janice detests her lonely life and frequently contemplates suicide. After news of her best friend getting engaged pushes her to the same dark edge Martin had stood only several hours before, he makes it his mission to instill the will to live back in her. But when Martin discovers that Jenny never left the hotel at all, he must choose between saving the life of a girl he just met or restoring order back in his own.

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polymath
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Re: Writing a quality blurb...

Post by polymath » May 6th, 2014, 12:18 am

I've looked at this blurb numerous times, trying to unravel what the novels is about. On the surface, a complusive gambler hits a new low in his life, finds a like-minded, misery-loves-company, suicidal acquaintance, crawls out of his doldrums, realizes the girlfriend he thought he'd lost still waits around for him, and is conflicted by helping the new acquaintance or salvaging his older relationship.

I think that gives away too much of the plot. That telegraphs that Martin's satisfaction will help the troubled friend and repair his relationship with Jenny.

None of the above especially interests me on its face. They are mostly internal, intangible events and not much in the way of emotional-moral crisis nor tangible, external events. Tangible, external events are Martin's losses at the casino. They are the begining but unimportant in the middle, end, and outcome. Martin is already willing to sacrifice his life: he's suicidal. Life or death doesn't hold much conflict for him. Janice, too, is suicidal. If Martin doesn't care that much about himself, I, as reader, don't either.

This to me reads like an And Story: And something meaningless happens in the beginning, and something meaningless happens in the middle, and something meaningless happens in the end, and to no meaningful end. Tangible, external events are the framework upon which drama fleshes out a moral crisis., A moral crisis is the intangible features of an otherwise tangible action. I don''t see a tangible action of note in the first place, and suicidal ideation is the moral crisis. I don't feel the suicidal ideation has enough foundation in the external action to carry the blurb and maybe the novel.

Let's talk message and moral and ethics, too. A narrative that promotes suicide as a solution to loss ireesponsibly glorifies suicide. Not per se that that's ethically unworthy or irresponsible on its face, but that might be a major deal breaker for most readers. Not to mention, perhaps ramifications from the public associating the narrative with suicides inspired by the narrative, whether valid or not.

On the other hand, an ironic message might comment on the meaninglesness of suicide and be the glue for the whole. A moral of the story, for example, might be that suicide ideation is also meaningless: take a moment, sleep on it, get a good night's rest, tomorrow will be better. Or more passionate irony, suicide only hurts loved ones; living on for better life outcomes is the best way to hurt hurt-deserving loved ones.

In any regard, though, tangible events are more engaging than internal character ennui and angst. Events, actions speak louder than words, louder than characters, louder than settings. Consider focusing the blurb on one pivotal event that captures the whole's essence and sets the whole in motion. The most interesting event I take away from the blurb is the gambling loss, that Martin lost his job and Jenny to a bet is I think a place to explore. The bum! How I want him to receive his due poetic justice, or nobly redeem himself from his ignoble selfish act: wagering Jenny.

How does a casino today allow such betting? There's no vig in either. Another character is pivotal in that event, someone who took a side bet.

Also consider how whatever event is foremost complicates Martin such that he has to step up and be nobly a man, antiheroic if not heroic (noble at least from redeeming himself for his selfish wagering of Jenny), other than his misery-loves-company noble assistance for Janice. Is this a corrupt casino, for example? Or maybe a corrupt enterprise operates secretly at the casino. If Martin and Janice are the morally corrupt characters, readers won't much care for them nor what happens. Who, when, where, what, why, and how does Martin confront, contend with, clash with?

What does Martin want personally, too? Riches? He's already gone from riches to rags at the beginning. Acceptance? He's as much as rejected Jernny at the beginning already. I'd imagine she'd be furious and unlikely to have anything further to do with Martin, unless he rescues her from whoever won her. Salvation or damnation (moral turpitude in crisis) then is Martin's dramatic conflict, stakes, motivations, emotional-moral crisis, and possible outcomes.

Martin looses Jenny, his savings, his job to a corrupt gambler, an ally of casino management, Distraught, Martin contemplates suicide from the casino's roof, where he talks crass casino waitress Janice out of jumping. Janice, grateful, tips him off to the gambler's rigged game. Now a man on fire, Martin struggles to save Jenny, redeem himself, and expose the corrupt gambler and casino. He's caught by and at the mercy of the casino's hired contract thugs. Ironically, now nearer death's final moments, Martin more than ever has a will to live--for Jenny's sake. [Surprise twist time.] At great personal cost, Martin [tragic antihero] self-sacrificingly sets Jenny free by offering to be the gambler's willing prey for a big game hunt wager among the gambler's closest acquaintances. [The event of substance in the speculative scenario is] Martin's the prey and, though eager to live, is more or less as ineffectual at the game as the hunters who wager on the outcome. [And thus leave the outcome satisfyingly in doubt until the bitter end] He's certain all along he will die, though at least he nobly saved Jenny. That as a blurb would make me stand up and take notice.
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Beethovenfan
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Re: Writing a quality blurb...

Post by Beethovenfan » May 6th, 2014, 3:36 am

Philabuster wrote:I've been stuck writing this blurb for the past month, changing words here and there and moving sentences around and such. I've been so focused on it that now I think I'm too focused on it. I'm not even sure if it covers everything a blurb is supposed to, and I certainly don't know if it grabs the readers attention.

I just got my cover from my cover designer and it looks amazing. I'm so happy with it and I obviously want the blurb to shine as well. Can you guys give it a read and tell me what you think? Any ideas on how to make it better? Any blog posts that you would suggest I read on writing an excellent blurb?

Thanks in advance.


Martin’s lifelong gambling addiction hits a new low after losing five thousand dollars, his job, and his girlfriend Jenny all in the same bet. When she leaves him alone on the casino floor, his will to live leaves with her, and he devises a disturbing plan to take his own life. An unexpected series of events with a bachelor party stalls him long enough to meet Janice, a crass waitress who works at the hotel attached to the casino. Enamored by her, Martin’s will to live returns, but he learns that Janice detests her lonely life and frequently contemplates suicide. After news of her best friend getting engaged pushes her to the same dark edge Martin had stood only several hours before, he makes it his mission to instill the will to live back in her. But when Martin discovers that Jenny never left the hotel at all, he must choose between saving the life of a girl he just met or restoring order back in his own.
I think what you have here tells everything a person needs to know, but it's jut a little... I don't know... a sort of this is this and that is that kind of feel to it. Like it only lays out the facts, but not really much of the feeling. This is what came to me as I read it:

Martin’s lifelong gambling addiction hits a new low after (I don't think you need this part.) lost five thousand dollars, his job, and his girlfriend Jenny all in the same bet. When (remove) she leaves him standing alone on the casino floor, and his will to live leaves with her, and (remove) He devises a disturbing plan to take his own life. (change this to ) Convinced his life is worth less than the betting ticket in his hand, he devises a disturbing plan to check out of life. But, An unexpected series of events with a bachelor party stalls him long enough to meet Janice, a crass waitress who works at the hotel attached to the casino. (change to) a comedy of errors involving a bachelor party and a crass waitress named Janice stall his plans. Enamored by her, Martin’s will to live returns (change to), decides he may have been hasty in deciding to off himself. but he learns that Janice detests her lonely life and frequently contemplates suicide. After news of her best friend getting engaged pushes her to (change to) He learns that Janice is standing on the same dark edge Martin had stood only several hours before, so he makes it his mission to instill the will to live back in her. But when (remove) Martin's sanity is pushed to the edge when he discovers that Jenny never left the hotel at all. Hmm, perhaps that disturbing plan isn't such a bad idea after all. he must choose between saving the life of a girl he just met or restoring order back in his own. (remove)

OK. I know this is probably not at all the direction your story is going, but it gives it flavor, know what I mean? If this was a kind of "comedy of errors" kind of story, then the blurb should sort of reflect that. I've read a portion of this story that you posted somewhere else on Bransforums... can't remember where that is just now - and that writing was very engaging and full of flavor. This little paragraph needs some of that spice. Hope this was helpful.
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Philabuster
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Re: Writing a quality blurb...

Post by Philabuster » May 12th, 2014, 4:31 pm

Wow Beethovenfan, thank you so much. That was very helpful.

I read it over and over and knew that it sounded too dry but I couldn't figure out how to spice it up. This gives me a much better starting point.

Thanks again! Gonna get working on it immediately.

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Re: Writing a quality blurb...

Post by longknife » May 17th, 2014, 3:21 pm

As usual, I agree with polymath. Way too wordy and too much. It doesn't catch my eye.

Here's a suggestion - explain the story in 25 - 30 words!

It's gonna drive you nuts but that is what it is going to take to catch anyone's attention.
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Philabuster
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Re: Writing a quality blurb...

Post by Philabuster » May 30th, 2014, 5:50 pm

After much re-tooling this is what I came up with.

Martin lost five thousand dollars, his job, and his girlfriend Jenny all in the same bet. She leaves him standing alone on the casino floor, and his will to live leaves with her. A comedy of errors involving a bachelor party and a crass waitress named Janice stall his suicidal plans. What happens next none of them could have expected. Murder, robbery and more is in store as this fateful night unfolds a path of self-discovery for Martin at The Reverie Casino. Will it be enough to keep him from gambling again?

Gonna look at this for another week and decide then if I like it, but I'd love to know everyone's thoughts.

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polymath
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Re: Writing a quality blurb...

Post by polymath » June 1st, 2014, 6:50 pm

I suggest investing research time at Query Shark, now that Mr. Bransford isn't regularly auditing queries anymore. Though the content is for a jacket blurb specifically, the same purposes and functions as a query pitch apply. Generic thematic expression and rhetorical questions are among pitch features of which literary agent Janet Reid--Query Shark-- and others who evaluate pitches disapprove. Crisis event is among those which she approves. The last three sentences of the blurb are in the former camp. The first three sentences are in the latter camp, though with event crisis magnitude shortcomings, for me.

"She leaves him standing alone on the casino floor, and his will to live leaves with her." The sentence is a comma splice and conjunction splice grammar fault. The second clause is a separate sentence or the whole is a complex sentence, two related though separate main ideas; absent the comma and "and" or necessitating a semicolon instead. //She leaves him standing alone on the casino floor. His will to live leaves with her.// or //She leaves him standing alone on the casino floor; his will to live leaves with her.//
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