What Do You Think of This Blurb?

Fireborn

Although I haven’t kept secret the fact that I wrote a book last year, I rarely bring it up. I did have one post dedicated to the book a month or two ago (or three) but it wasn’t my most well received post. In fact, no matter how you count it, from views to likes to comments, this was possibly my least popular post to date. So, needless to say, I haven’t said much about the book since.

That’s about to change.

I didn’t mention the title in the original post because I doubt if I’ll be able to use it. This is mostly owing to stupidity on my part: I didn’t Google the name until I had completed the third revision. The name has recently been used. By the time I checked, the name of the title characters was spread throughout the book. So, taking away the mystery of it all, the working title of the book is “The Fireborn”. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep the name of the characters but I’m sure the book title will eventually be changed.

I also haven’t really discussed what the book is about, so here is a little more info. “The Fireborn” is an urban fantasy. I know this brings up a lot of connotations, some which fit very well and others that don’t fit at all. This is a character driven book which centers on the life of the main character, Elliot. Yes, there is action and adventure, but I think Elliot’s relationships with his brother and his ex-wife are much more of what the whole thing is about.

I’ll put up more info on the book’s contents in the future. That is not why we are here today. What this post is about is the blurb, and that’s where you come in.

I’d really like to know what you think of the following blurb. Does this sound like something you’d want to read?

Elliot is about to trade his world of computers and cell phones for one of swords and soldiers.

We meet our hero, Dr. Elliot Everett-Jones, in the English countryside at the site of an archeological dig where his brother, William, has just unearthed an ancient cauldron. This cauldron, which infuses the imagination and dreams of all who come into contact with it, vanishes within days. Elliot, being an author of revisionist history, consults his dubious sources to prove the cauldron was used to cook up sword-yielding naked blue zombies called the Fireborn. (Blue? It’s no coincidence Caesar was met by blue Celts in Britain.) Elliot fears the missing cauldron will be returned to its original, evil purpose.

When blue naked zombies actually arrive on the scene Elliot, because of his special knowledge of the Fireborn, is conscripted into an elite military unit and embarks on the ultimate quest: to save the world. Along the way he rewrites the Arthurian legends, makes a detour to find Excalibur, and even becomes something of a soldier. To complicate the issue, he is constantly sidetracked by the deteriorating relationship with his rapidly fading brother William, and by Eleanor, his ex-wife, who has chosen this time to reenter his life. When Elliot pauses to ponder the philosophical questions that seem to continue to crop up, he has to wonder if putting an end to the Fireborn really is his true quest.

This book, which leans heavily on Celtic myth and legend, is not a typical zombie novel and has much more in common with Douglas Adams’ “Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” than “World War Z”.

So, what do you think? If you read this on a dust jacket would you hastily put the book down or would you take a minute to leaf through it?

I’d love to hear from you.

——–

Drawing by Trent P McDonald

28 thoughts on “What Do You Think of This Blurb?

  1. Pingback: Four Years – The Fireborn | Trent's World (the Blog)

  2. Pingback: Another Shot at the Blurb | Trent's World (the Blog)

  3. Pingback: Time for a Rewrite | Trent's World (the Blog)

  4. Pingback: Why Blue? Why Nude? | Trent's World Blog

  5. lifeconfusions

    Hey Trent, I’m not a Critic or have a lot of knowledge about books so I can’t criticize it, I just know that I liked, even though I needed something more, I don’t know what but I just had this feeling.
    Good luck with the book and Best wishes.
    Love, Zee :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Zee! Although I am looking for advice from people who have some experience I also value the opinions of everyday readers. In the end they’re the ones I’m writing for, not the critics. (Of course most of the people who answered are writers and writers are included as readers.) As always, I’m interested in what you think.

      When you say you “need something more,” do you mean more information before you can decide if you’ll explore the book a little deeper or “something more” like the actual book to read? Or something else?

      Thanks again Zee for your comments and for your good wishes!

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      1. lifeconfusions

        Ummm…more in a way that I knew that blurb wasn’t enough, maybe It needed to be a little more interesting and by more interesting I don’t mean more information, info was enough but choice of words was a little off. Make it more interesting !

        You are most welcome Trent. I’m just glad I could be of little help :)

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          OK, I get you. So from what people have said it needs to be short, more concise and more interesting. And by “interesting” I assume you are talking “attention grabbing”.

          You want me to take it from, “Today’s lecture is on the reanimation of corpses in Celtic mythology and the implications on modern society. OK class, listen up as we read Caesar in the original Latin,” to something more along the lines of, “An ancient evil is unleashed on the world and Elliot may hold the key to save mankind. With time running out and a blue demon at his heels, will Elliot unlock the secret in time or is humanity doomed to the undead swords of The Fireborm?”

          In a week or so I’ll put up a new post with a revised blurb.

          Thanks again for your input. It is very appreciated.

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          1. lifeconfusions

            Yes Yes Yes, that is exactly what I was talking about. The second version is gazillion times better. Now I’m loving it. You got it Trent. You are going to rock it ;)
            It was my pleasure! :)

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  6. jmgajda

    Ok, I’m going to list what I think are the problems first and then finish with the positives. In the interest of full disclosure I’m not yet a published author but I have had some practice writing blurbs and pitches. So, you can value my advice accordingly! :)

    1) It’s too long. Others have said this and it’s true. It meanders. It reminds me of the kind of notes I might jot down if I get a story idea and I’m in a rush, so I kind of just throw everything on the page and plan to sort it out later.

    2) “blue naked zombies” is… problematic. It makes your novel sound like it’s relying on a gimmick to draw readers in instead of the quality of the writing. My suggestion is to do away with the whole blue and naked aspect of the zombies all together. My first thought when I read that line was an image of a smurf-blue zombie chasing someone with his naughty bits waving gently in the wind. Or jangling in a decisively jocular manner. I think you’re going for funny by using that idea but it comes off as a bit forced.

    3) I think you should gather your top ten favorite books and read the blurbs on the back. Get a sense of the flow and rhythm often employed. That kind of writing is very different from writing a novel, because a novel has so much space to develop ideas and explain things. Writing blurbs needs to be tight and concise. The best way to master the skill is to practice. Take those top ten books and write your own blurbs and do a side by side comparison. Put them up here on your site for feedback. I think you’ll see improvement fairly quickly.

    So now, the positives. I think your concept is pretty awesome. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the “Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander, but I LOVED them as a kid and your idea makes me think of that series, set in the modern day, for grownups, with zombies.

    I think if you go that route, do a modern take on those concepts, you could have something really special. And I love that you are tying zombies in with Celtic myths, sort of like a nod to one of the original creators of the idea. So cool. I’m actually a little envious and definitely curious to see what you do with it.

    Also, you didn’t include a link to the post you reference at the start of this one. After reading this post I’m now interested in your previous one. If you included a link I would have clicked on it and followed where it led. And once I follow, who knows who will follow after me…

    I hope this was helpful. Please do post reworks of your blurb and more about your book.

    :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Hi Jessica. Thanks for the input! So, here is another vote for much shorter.

      I can see how the blurb makes the “naked blue zombie” angle look like a gimmick. Actually I was thinking of historic sources before the book idea came.

      I wrote a long response but I’m saving it for a future post. I hope reading the book it doesn’t seem like a gimmick – at this time I’d have to start over from scratch to take it out.

      Yes, as a kid Lloyd Alexander was a favorite. After I thought of the idea I first reread the Mabinogion to go back to the original. After I finished my first draft I reread the Prydain to make sure I wasn’t stealing too much. But yes, in many ways this is an adult version of his writing.

      I may have played up the Douglas Adams reference too heavily. When told I need to tell prospective agents about similarities to published books. “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” was the first thing to come to mind. If your only experience with his writing is the Hitchhiker’s Guide books you need to read the 2 Dirk Gently books. They are much, much better. The second thing that came to mind was Foucault’s Pendulum. Although I did a lot of research I don’t know if I want anyone to compare my work with Eco’s book.

      I’ll post a new blurb later. I also link to the first post. Remember, it was very, very vague.

      Thanks again for the feedback.

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    2. trentpmcd Post author

      When answering somebody below I wrote – You want me to take it from, “Today’s lecture is on the reanimation of corpses in Celtic mythology and the implications on modern society. OK class, listen up as we read Caesar in the original Latin,” to something more along the lines of, “An ancient evil is unleashed on the world and Elliot may hold the key to save mankind. With time running out and a blue demon on his heels, will Elliot unlock the secret in time or is humanity doomed to the undead swords of The Fireborm?”

      That isn’t the final blurb, but is that closer to what you were thinking?

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  7. iemergedinlondonrain

    I had to reread this a few times because I kept getting bored. Not with your story itself, which sounds interesting. Especially since you liken it to Douglas Adams, hinting at humor and a little of the implausible.

    But the blurb is way too long. Too many details. We need to know some things from this blurb, like the MC is an archeologist, he discovers some sort of magical relic, and in order to save the world becomes a soldier. We need to know about the brother and the ex-wife, but that’s it.

    There are too many details, and they’re a little heavy handed. I feel like I’ve been told almost the whole story…

    I hope this is helpful, and not too harsh. I really do think the story sounds cool!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Hi Brittany. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

      Quick question – I presented this as a blurb for a dust jacket or an Amazon post. This blurb was actually created as part of my pitch when shopping for an agent. How do you think this would work for that purpose? Should it still be just a paragraph or so?

      I can’t pretend to be as funny as Douglas Adams. When I was first working on my query letter I had somebody advise me to compare it to a well known book. She asked me if it was like X, Y or Z and I answered, “Well, actually, I was thinking along the lines of ‘Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul'”. Her ‘Z’ was, of course, World War Z. She said I need to include that in my query and to play up the connection to Celtic myth.

      Thanks for the feedback. I do appreciate it.

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    2. trentpmcd Post author

      When answering somebody below I wrote – You want me to take it from, “Today’s lecture is on the reanimation of corpses in Celtic mythology and the implications on modern society. OK class, listen up as we read Caesar in the original Latin,” to something more along the lines of, “An ancient evil is unleashed on the world and Elliot may hold the key to save mankind. With time running out and a blue demon on his heels, will Elliot unlock the secret in time or is humanity doomed to the undead swords of The Fireborm?”

      That isn’t the final blurb, but is that closer to what you were thinking?

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      1. iemergedinlondonrain

        That’s a lot more interesting to me. Immediately I want to know what a blue demon is and how the world is in danger from something called the fireborn. Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, but I wanted to take the time to give you a good response.

        My understanding is that you need to be as brief as possible, but engaging. You want the recipient of your letter to ask questions, and to seek out the answers.

        But I’ve never queried, so I could be totally wrong. I do like this version a lot though.

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  8. Gene'O

    Reblogged this on The Writing Catalog and commented:
    I’d give the first page a look, and if it grabbed me, I’d certainly read it. I like urban fantasy. My own fiction project (on the back-burner at the moment) isn’t quite urban fantasy, but it does have a few elements. And I love the image. What do you think, folks? Readable?

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Gene! I hope I can find and agent then a publisher who wants to look at the first page. Oh well, if not self-publishing is a viable option these days. Making these little pictures is really fun and I’m glad people like them.

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  9. John Guillen

    Way too long. The first sentence of the second paragraph that starts with, “We meet our hero…” is not something I’d ever expect to read on a book. It’s like saying,”Hi. My protagonist’s name is ____ and he’s from _____.” Obviously you want to introduce him, but not with that sentence. And the last paragraph should be gone.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks John. I’ll rethink how I start it. You’re right – the last paragraph isn’t really for the dust jacket. It is part of the sales pitch when I’m shopping the book to agents. I talked to few people off line. they told me I need to compare the book to published works. I was also told by one to emphasize the Celtic mythology connection. I’ll also have another look at it. Thanks for the comments.

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      1. John Guillen

        Exactly right about the sales pitch. I’d say just make the point you’re trying to make. Cause if it’s too long potential readers won’t read all of it.

        By the way, I had a similar post for my book on Monday in which I asked for my followers to compare a long blurb like what you have here and a shorter one. Like three or four sentences. And fifty ish comments later not a single person went for the long one. Just a thought.

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          When answering somebody below I wrote – You want me to take it from, “Today’s lecture is on the reanimation of corpses in Celtic mythology and the implications on modern society. OK class, listen up as we read Caesar in the original Latin,” to something more along the lines of, “An ancient evil is unleashed on the world and Elliot may hold the key to save mankind. With time running out and a blue demon on his heels, will Elliot unlock the secret in time or is humanity doomed to the undead swords of The Fireborm?”

          That isn’t the final blurb, but is that closer to what you were thinking?

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