Blurb Writing Example – King’s Champion

Context: Just after 8am, on a rare morning shift. (I don’t work day shifts. So when I do, I need All The Caffeine.) I settle down at my desk, having accomplished the usual flurry of morning tasks, and am contemplating how best to be the best I can be (or braaaaaaaainsssss….), when I get an email from my darling man. This, then, was conducted entirely by email and squeezed in around the edges of the demands for work. It’s not my best blurb, but it works… and it’s an example of how these things get created and changed.

And yes, I still want to rewrite the final version. But there’s a time to shoot the engineer and begin production – and we’ll be re-evaluating blurb and cover as the market changes, in a few years.

8:02am – Peter
Cedar needs the blurb for the book cover. Have you got one yet? If not, can you let me have a draft by 10 a.m.? I’ll work on one, too, and send it to Cedar later this morning after I have your input.

***
8:34 am – Me
I don’t like the blurb I have; please rework it or shoot me your version.

After twenty years of peace, war is coming. Old men can feel it in the wind, as rumors of black wings bearing death in the night grow.

Osiric, the former king’s champion, stumbles into a raiding party on the way back from a friend’s grave. In the rubble, he finds evidence of old foes with a new plan, and an alliance with darker powers.

Now he’s in a race to uncover their plot, before it buries him!

***
8:45am – Peter
How’s this?

The Kingdom has known decades of peace… but time has eroded its will to defend its way of life. Old foes are stirring, with new plans and an alliance with darker powers.

Owain, once King’s Champion, feels the harbingers of a new threat on the wind, as rumors grow of black wings bearing death and torture in the night. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid.

Now he must race against time to uncover the threat and deal with it… before it deals with him!

Love you!

***
9:01am – Me

After decades of peace, the Kingdom of BlahBlah is an unsuspecting prize for an alliance of its old foes and new, darker powers.

Owain, once King’s Champion, feels war in the wind as he hears rumors of black wings bearing death and torture in the night. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he discovers their reality and fights his way through a deadly raid.

Now he must race against time to uncover their plans, and defend his land and king again!

***
9:11am – Peter
My latest:

After decades of peace, the Kingdom has grown lax. Old foes are stirring, in a new alliance with darker powers. Black wings bring death and torture in the night.

Owain, former King’s Champion, hears rumors of sorcery. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid, and uncovers vital information.

The Kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

I think this is close to what we want. If you agree, I’ll fire it off to Cedar.

***
9:28am – Me

What is the name of the kingdom? You really want that in there, because that sets a lot of expectations for worldbuilding. The kingdom of Estarria vs. The principality of Al Andalus, or the Celestial Court of Xongshu… “The kingdom” without a name is too ‘generic mock-medieval European’ and will drive readers off because there’s been a lot of bad fantasy that did that… and I can’t remember it.

What do you think of the other minor tweaks?

After decades of peace, the Kingdom of Blahblah has grown lax. Now, old foes are stirring, in a new alliance with darker powers. Black wings bring death and torture in the night.

Owain, former King’s Champion, hears rumors of sorcery. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid, and uncovers coded orders for a larger plot.

The kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

***
9:46am – Peter
I like it. We’ll go with it.
***
King’s Champion

After decades of peace, war is threatening the Kingdom of Avranche. Its old foes are stirring, in a new alliance with darker powers. Black wings bring death and torture in the night.

Owain, former King’s Champion, hears rumors of sorcery. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid, and uncovers coded orders for a larger plot.

The kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

16 Comments

Filed under FYNBOSSPRESS, MARKETING, PROMOTION, WRITING: PUBLISHING

16 responses to “Blurb Writing Example – King’s Champion

  1. paladin3001

    Excellent. Thanks for showing the detail (agony) of writing a blurb for Peter’s latest release. The exercise we did earlier which you helped with was very similar for all of us.

  2. In the spirit of using this as a writing exercise, let me ask a few things about the final version:

    1) If Oswain is the hero, shouldn’t the paragraph about him come first?

    2) I wonder why the bad guys were raiding a cemetery? I wonder why the bad guys don’t have a name.

    3) Why do we care that the orders were coded? Must have been a pretty lousy code for him to decipher it right there in the cemetery.

    4) Using “plot” in the context of “cemetery” creates the weird impression that they’re planning to bury someone really big. 🙂

    5) In the third paragraph, it seems like he knows who the enemies are, even though they don’t get a name. Is he trying to figure out who they are or just locate them?

    6) Finally looking at the first paragraph, I feel like it should come last with something like “But after decades of peace, Avranche is not ready for . . .” Otherwise I kind of wonder why Oswain doesn’t just go to the king and say, “Look what I found! We’re being attacked by tomb raiders with bad codes!”

    7) How do black wings bring death and torture? What does that even mean?

    8) Do the old foes have names? Is his challenge to figure out which of the old foes might be behind the new plot?

    9) Why is it a race against time? Nothing in the blurb suggests any urgency.

    Rereading the earlier drafts does answer a few questions (e.g. he was on the way back from a grave–but then why mention it at all?) So a few more questions, starting from the first blurb draft.

    10) “In the rubble.” Rubble of what? The cemetery?

    11) “Old men hear.” Old men aren’t noted for our keen hearing, so this sounds odd.

    12) Why is he a “former” King’s champion? Disgraced or just retired?

    • Dorothy Grant

      Yep, not my best blurb!

      How would you rewrite it?

      • To really do it right, I’d have to either read the story or else make things up based on my imagination. 🙂 However, with that caveat:

        Checking out rumors of illegal sorcery, retired King’s Champion Owain interrupts a deadly raid and uncovers coded orders that reveal some of Avranche’s old foes have made a new alliance with darker powers.

        After decades of peace, the kingdom is slow to accept that it faces danger, even though black wings are already bringing death in the night. Owain is the greatest threat to Avranche’s enemies, he’s on his own, and he needs to figure out who they are and how to deal with them before it’s too late!

  3. If the black wings are in the book and not just a metaphor, I’d put them first, as an attention getter.

  4. I just re-ordered it like this:

    Owain, former King’s Champion, hears rumors of sorcery threatening the Kingdom of Avranche.

    After decades of peace, old foes are forming a new alliance with dark powers to start a war.

    Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid. He uncovers coded orders that herald black wings of death and torture.

    The kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

    I’m just using her work to practice my blurb making skills. No criticism or other intent intended.

  5. Iterations work… 🙂 and yes, sometimes it IS time to shoot the engineer!!! 😀

  6. I like it the way it is, personally.
    We start off with a general background stage setting
    Then we are introduced to the hero
    Last we have the implied tease of the story.

    The goal of each part of the blurb is to get you to read the next, right? And then raise enough interest to get them to read the sample. (or the first few pages in a physical copy).

    The only issue I might possibly have is with the last sentence, because it’s a fairly common ‘trope’ or ‘set up line.’ But that doesn’t make it a bad thing, especially not if that’s the kind of thing people are looking for in that fantasy genre.

    Honestly, I wish I had someone to bounce blurbs off of. Writing them is often a real pain.

    • When I write reviews for short fiction Rocket Stack Rank I write a short, spoiler-free blurb for each one. About 850 of them per year. They’re a good bit shorter than the blurbs for novels, of course, but they’re usually the hardest bit of text to write–and I’m not even trying to sell anything! 🙂

  7. mrsizer

    Comma police calling. I’m terrible at commas, so I really am asking…

    Its old foes are stirring, in a new alliance with darker powers.
    Why a comma there?

    he stumbles into a deadly raid, and uncovers coded orders for a larger plot.
    I think that one might be correct, but it reads oddly to me.

    Thanks.

    • The second one is flat wrong, so your instincts are right on that. That’s because “he” is the subject of both “stumbles” and “uncovers.”

      The first one is more subtle. The comma makes it non-restrictive. As such, it says that old foes are stirring and that old foes are in a new alliance. That is, it tells two separate facts about what the old foes are up to. I’m pretty sure this is what is actually meant.

      Remove it, though, and it becomes restrictive. Now it says that the new alliance is the place (or at least the context) where the old foes are stirring (and they’re not stirring elsewhere). This is only subtly different from the first, in this case, but sometimes it makes a big difference.

      Removing the comma admits a further (somewhat silly) interpretation: That the verb is “to stir in” and that the old foes are cooking something (metaphorically perhaps) and what they’re stirring in is a new alliance.