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Trouble with a blurb

Switch Blayde

I'm having trouble with the blurb for my new novel. You know, that thing on the inside of a book jacket that piques someone's interest so they buy the book. What SOL calls a description.

Title: Steele Justice

Blurb:

When the police are incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang that extorts money from store owners and forces women into prostitution, Lincoln Steele steps in. The former Army Ranger dispenses his own form of justice to liberate the women and crush the gang.


Comments?

Ross at Play

I'd be inclined to reword that as follows:

The police are powerless to stop a brutal Russian gang extorting money from store owners and forcing women into prostitution. Lincoln Steele steps up. The former Army Ranger dispenses his own form of justice, crushes the gang, and liberates the women.

helmut_meukel

@Ross at Play

I like your rewording, but I think you probably changed Steele's priorities.

The former Army Ranger dispenses his own form of justice, crushes the gang, and liberates the women.


I don't know if SB intended to show a ranking but if he did this would retain it:
The former Army Ranger dispenses his own form of justice, liberates the women, and crushes the gang.

HM.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


dispenses his own form of justice to liberate the women and crush the gang.


Sort of comes across as a spoiler. Also why can't the police stop the gang?

I think the start should provide a brief reason for why the police are ineffective. Does he step in or is he drawn in and what draws him into the altercation. Summarize it with a question like, Can Steele Justice liberate the women and put an end to the gang?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@helmut_meukel

I think you probably changed Steele's priorities.

That was intentional.
As an editor I will throw up options for the author to consider.
In this case, I prefer "liberate the women" at the end because I consider it more important?! I prefer that order so that the blurb ends with a grande finale.

Ross at Play

@REP

comes across as a spoiler

GOOD POINT!

helmut_meukel

@Switch Blayde

I just now realized you are not woodmanone (thought it's another pen name you use).

I probably missed Steele's given name in your earlier posts.

Woodmanone's MC in his three(?) stories is Matthew Steele.
Titles:
Cold Steele; Cold Steele--and Ice; Cold Steele--and Mrs. Robinson.

Using the same spelling for the MC's family name is probably confusing more readers than just me.

HM.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@helmut_meukel

Using the same spelling for the MC's family name is probably confusing more readers than just me.


I doubt it, Steele is a very common family name, and this is the first I've heard of the series you mention. A seem to remember reading a detective story back in the 1970s where the main character's name was Steele, as well. I doubt many people would be confused between the two.

robberhands

When the police are incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang that extorts money from store owners and forces women into prostitution, Lincoln Steele steps in. The former Army Ranger dispenses his own form of justice to liberate the women and crush the gang.

I don't know enough about the story to offer an alternative synopsis or blurb, but I still would suggest you try something new.

- I agree with REP, 'the police are incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang' is a dubious statement in need of an explanation (besides, I hate that police is a plurale tantum in English - that's fingernails on a chalkboard to my sensitive ears)

- 'that extorts money from store owners and forces women into prostitution' is too unbalanced. 'He has bad table manners and is a serial killer.'

- 'Lincoln Steele steps in', why? Is he a hobby vigilante or dislikes Russians? Open questions aren't bad but this one looks character-defining to me, and it's handled carelessly.

- 'dispenses his own form of justice to liberate the women and crush the gang.' Again I agree with REP, that's a blatant spoiler. Also, is 'to dispense his own form of justice' cause or effect? It again touches character-defining traits of the MC.

I like 'brutal Russian gang' and 'former Army Ranger'. These are valuable pieces of information, impressive and well-worded.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Ernest Bywater

Switch,

May I suggest

A brutal Russian gang that extorts money from store owners and forces women into prostitution are more than the local police can deal with. Former Army Ranger Lincoln Steele steps in to locate the women and deal with the gang in his own style.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

When the police are incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang that extorts money from store owners and forces women into prostitution, Lincoln Steele steps in.

I ask out of idle curiosity and direct the question at you because I'm sure you can answer it. Shouldn't the quoted sentence read:

When the police are incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang, which extorts money from store owners and forces women into prostitution, Lincoln Steele steps in.

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

"Crush" the gang doesn't work for me. Maybe defeat? Just don't spell the hero's name Steal.

Switch Blayde

Interesting feedback. Thanks.

Ross, I'll work on your suggestions.

As to spoilers — saying he succeeded is not a spoiler. That is expected.

Why the police are ineffective is a spoiler.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

Shouldn't the quoted sentence read:
When the police are incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang, which ...

I think I can describe what is technically required for formal writing.

The meaning changes when you change 'that' to 'which', and again when you insert a comma after 'gang'.

Both pronouns are functioning as 'relative pronouns', a pronoun (usually ?) placed immediately after its antecedent to introduce an independent 'relative clause' providing further information about the antecedent.
* a comma should be used when the relative clause is essential to identify the antecedent.
* 'that' should be used when the relative clause is identifying the antecedent.
* 'which' should be used when the relative clause is providing additional information about the antecedent.

My interpretations would be:

"a brutal Russian gang that does X"
shows there is more than one gang, not necessarily all brutal Russian gangs, and identifies the only gang that is both brutal and Russian, and does X.

"a brutal Russian gang which does X"
shows there is more than one brutal Russian gang, and identifies the only one among those which does X.

"a brutal Russian gang, which does X"
[I think also "a brutal Russian gang doing X"]
does not identify a particular gang, or even suggest there is more than one gang. It provides the added information that the brutal Russian gang being referred to does X.

Bondi Beach

@robberhands

- 'dispenses his own form of justice to liberate the women and crush the gang.' Again I agree with REP, that's a blatant spoiler. Also, is 'to dispense his own form of justice' cause or effect? It again touches character-defining traits of the MC.


With apologies for being #MeToo here, I agree. Also, why is it given that Steele will be successful? Is he Superman? Why not insert some doubt, i.e., can he do it, can he overcome external obstacles and his own tendency to spend his time cross-dressing? (Nothing wrong with cross-dressing, of course.) Surely there must be some obstacles that throw the outcome into doubt, even if momentarily.

bb

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Bondi Beach

Sorry, SB. #MeToo.

Switch Blayde

Ok, I've listened. How about:

The police are powerless to stop a brutal Russian gang extorting money from store owners and forcing women into prostitution. Lincoln Steele, a former Army Ranger, isn't constrained by their rules as he dispenses his own form of justice.

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Switch Blayde

btw, the TV show was Remington Steele.

Also, after googling "Steele Justice", I found a movie with that name. But titles aren't copyrighted.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

The police are powerless to stop a brutal Russian gang extorting money from store owners and forcing women into prostitution. Lincoln Steele, a former Army Ranger, isn't constrained by their rules as he dispenses his own form of justice.

My choice would be to end with a short sentence:

... by their rules. He dispenses his own form of justice.

Is 'dispenses' still a spoiler? I can't think of a better alternative.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
REP

@Switch Blayde

It is a lot better than the first. Seems to still need something but I'm not sure what.

Perhaps something about what motivated him to become involved.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I'd tighten it slightly:

With the police incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang, Lincoln Steele steps in. The Army Ranger vet dispense his own form of justice liberating the women and crushing the gang.

I don't think the "extorting money and forcing the women into prostitution" is necessary and makes the intro sentence harder to follow (i.e. let the readers read the story to learn what the gang is guilty of, you don't need to spell it all out in the blurb).

I also like Ross's shorter sentences (i.e. "Lincoln Steele steps (in?)").

As to spoilers — saying he succeeded is not a spoiler. That is expected.

Not really. You want the story tension. Most readers will expect him to succeed, but there's little point in pre-announcing it. Allow the reader to worry that he may not survive. It's more engaging than reading a predictable story.

Here's another try:

With the police incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang, Army Ranger vet Lincoln Steele steps in. Combating the gang while avoiding police interference, he struggles to save the women affected before it's too late—for them and him both!

That introduces more conflict, introduces a timetable element and casts doubt about his success, but feel free to cut any elements which don't fit your story.

REP

@Switch Blayde

Just a suggestion:

Things were bad in (add town) and getting worse. The authorities were handicapped by their rules and code of conduct. The brutal Russian gang at the center of the problem made a serious error when they upset Lincoln Steele. The ex-Army Ranger decided to enter the fray and dispense his own form of justice. He may not be able to save all of the gang's victims, but he could certainly crush the gang if he can survive.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Lincoln Steele steps ...?

I prefer 'up' instead of 'in' in that sentence.
To me, 'step up' suggests a choice to do the right thing even though it may be difficult.
In contrast, 'step in' only means to intervene, possibly by choice but perhaps reluctantly because of some obligation.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I'd tighten it slightly:
With the police incapable of stopping a brutal Russian gang, Lincoln Steele steps in. The Army Ranger vet dispense his own form of justice liberating the women and crushing the gang.

Which women? :(

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

... by their rules. He dispenses his own form of justice.


Yeah. Thx.

Switch Blayde

@REP

Perhaps something about what motivated him to become involved.


You're supposed to put in the consequences of the protagonist's failure. What happens to him if…?

But I suck at blurbs.

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I don't think the "extorting money and forcing the women into prostitution" is necessary


On the cover, it says "an erotic thriller." In the blurb, the "prostitution" was the only inkling of it being erotica.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@REP

Just a suggestion ...

I like the ideas.
Searching for a better wording, perhaps? ...

The local Russian gang is out of control. Extortion, enslaving prostitutes, you name it! The police are hogtied by their rules and regulations. Lincoln Steele, a former Army Ranger, is not! He's had enough and is determined to crush them with his own style of justice.

REP

@Switch Blayde

You're supposed to


Those who march to the same drum are just a crowd. To stand out, you need to do something different to grab your readers attention.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@Ross at Play

The police are hogtied

Oink? :(

Switch Blayde

Okay, I took another approach. What do you think about something like this:

Stores are vandalized. Shop owners beaten. Their wives and daughters violated. Enslaved in prostitution. No one is safe from the brutal gang terrorizing the city. Fear keeps the victims mum, except those brave enough to trust the system. But going to the police makes it worse for them. The police are powerless to stop the gang. They are constrained by rules. Rules the gang uses to game the system.

Lincoln Steele lives by no such rules. The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken. For justice to be served. Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help at risk.

awnlee jawking

@REP

Those who march to the same drum are just a crowd. To stand out, you need to do something different to grab your readers attention.


Professional publishers have evaluated blurb-writing to death. The reason blurbs can sound very similar is because testing has shown them to work. Even when the description passes little resemblance to the actual story.

The 'safe' option would be for SB to borrow liberally from professionally published novels with similar plots.

Diversion: Barbara Broccoli says that the next James Bond could be black or a woman (so not a black woman then). Should SB be concerned that the feature film of his story might have a black woman cast as Lincoln Steele? ;)

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Should SB be concerned that the feature film of his story might have a black woman cast as Lincoln Steele?


Not as much as Lee Child when Tom Cruise was selected to play Jack Reacher. He didn't want Cruise. After all, his Reacher is 6'4".

Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

Not as much as Lee Child when Tom Cruise was selected to play Jack Reacher. He didn't want Cruise. After all, his Reacher is 6'4".


Speaking of good old Jack, have you looked at one of Lee Child's blurbs? If yes, then see above, and rewrite enough to escape accusations of copyright violation.

At least insert something along the lines of, "Steele must overcome his own demons to blah blah blah ..." Surely there's something that stands in the way of success beyond 14 different kinds of scumbag?

bb

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Although I think you went a bit overboard with the fractured sentences, I like this second attempt much more than the previous.

Their wives and daughters violated. Enslaved in prostitution.

And

The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken. For justice to be served.

These four sentences are only two and breaking them apart makes it awkward to read.

Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

Speaking of good old Jack, have you looked at one of Lee Child's blurbs? If yes, then see above, and rewrite enough to escape accusations of copyright violation.


I did look at a couple of Jack Reacher blurbs. That's what my latest 2-paragraph one was based on.

But I don't understand what copyright violation you're talking about.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


But I don't understand what copyright violation you're talking about.


I'm sure the blurb is copyrighted so you can't use it word-for-word. ETA: Not that you would, but just doing a global replace of "Steele" for "Reacher" probably wouldn't save you from an accusation of copyright violation.

bb

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

I'm sure the blurb is copyrighted so you can't use it word-for-word.


Oh, I thought you were talking about the Jack Reacher character. I wouldn't copy a blurb from another novel. It wouldn't make sense anyway. Different story.

I actually have an "Inspired by the Jack Reacher character created by Lee Child" in my acknowledgement.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I took another approach. What do you think about something like this:

I like your new approach better, but it now seems a bit verbose and sometimes redundant. This is what I came up with after pruning it - with a chainsaw. :-)

Stores are vandalized, their owners are beaten, wives violated, and daughters enslaved into prostitution. No one is safe from the brutal gang terrorizing the city. Fear keeps the victims silent. Going to the police makes it worse; they are too constrained by rules to stop the gang.
Lincoln Steele lives by no such rules. The former Army Ranger knows rules must sometimes be broken. He fights back against the gang, for justice, putting his life and the lives of those he seeks to help at risk.

sejintenej

A lot of good suggestions. My immediate view would be to replace "are incapable of" with "cannot" though it would depend on factors shown later in the story.

"Are incapable of" suggests incompetence and perhaps unwillingness/complicity at some authorative police level.

"cannot" indicates that there are practical problems

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

IIRC, someone in my writers' group claimed that Lee Child doesn't write his own blurbs and is sometimes surprised at how his stories get summarised.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Which women? :(

I was trying to eliminate the list of crimes data dump in the description, it would be easy enough to insert "enslaved" or even better "ensnared", without providing too much information, but detailed that they "were lured into prostitution" just takes too much focus away from the main story elements. Even "the women harmed" would be better than an extensive list of sins performed by the gang.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

On the cover, it says "an erotic thriller." In the blurb, the "prostitution" was the only inkling of it being erotica.

I'm sorry, but prostitution doesn't necessarily make it erotica (unless he's paying for the women). If you want to identify that, you need to do it another way.

I'm assuming he becomes romantically linked to the women he frees, so focus on that instead of what the gang did. Make is a distinct element which draws readers in, rather than a passive add-on which makes the initial sentence much too long.

Maybe (not knowing the situation):

Will the ensnared women he rescues be worth the risk, or will they encumber him just when he needs his wits to keep him alive?"

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

@ Me
Which women? :(
@ You
I was trying to eliminate the list of crimes data dump

I knew what you were trying to do, and I agreed with your intent.
The problem in your rewrite was it said "liberating the women" without ever mentioning any "women" before. It was just another of those all-too-common errors introduced during a revision process when one adjustment to the text causes an unnoticed grammatical error elsewhere.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Searching for a better wording, perhaps? ...

That's better, the shorter sentences and better word choices make it a stronger draw. Personally, I'd drop the comma from "is not!", as it breaks the flow of the argument, probably by inserting em-dashes (which typically won't work in published book descriptions).

Lincoln Steel, an Army Ranger veteran, has had enough and is determined to disrupt their operations with his own style of justice.

That's a longer sentence than those you used, but it introduces the question of just how much he'll achieve, rather than pre-announcing that he entirely "crushes" the entire criminal enterprise. There's no drama in a pre-ordained ending.

The biggest draw in any description is to outline the main story conflicts, rather than the actual plot details. Readers are drawn in by what drives the character to act and the challenges he faces, rather than knowing the background details that drew him there (those are better filled in during the early chapters, once you have the reader hooked).

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Okay, I took another approach. What do you think about something like this:

Tightening up a bit (again):

Stores are vandalized. Shop owners beaten. Their wives and daughters violated and ensnared in prostitution. No one is safe as the brutal gang terrorize the city. Fear keeps the victims silent, except the few brave enough to resist. But the police makes it worse for the victims, and are powerless to stop the crimes, constrained by legal restrictions. Rules the gang uses to game the system.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Professional publishers have evaluated blurb-writing to death. The reason blurbs can sound very similar is because testing has shown them to work. Even when the description passes little resemblance to the actual story.

I'm not sure about the results of such research, but I've found that less plot details (what the gang does) and more story conflicts is the way to go, as it lets readers know what to expect without giving away spoilers. Let readers know what the MC's challenges are (saving the women, earning trust, resisting the police and staying alive). Simply announcing that he "crushes the bad guy" provides ZERO draw, as it reveals the ending. Readers might expect him to win, but that's still no excuse for explicitly telling them so.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

He didn't want Cruise. After all, his Reacher is 6'4".

But Tom Cruise is all of 5'3" when he stands on a box (or couch) to act!

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Personally, I'd drop the comma from "is not!", as it breaks the flow of the argument

I agree - but the word order must be changed too!
The commas are technically required in this sentence:

Lincoln Steele, a former Army Ranger, is not!

... because the phrase inside the commas is nonrestrictive, i.e. it describes the noun phrase it follows, not identify it.

A better solution, without those damn commas interrupting the flow, is:

Former Army Ranger Lincoln Steele is not!

... because now the second noun phrase is restrictive, i.e. identifying the noun phrase it follows.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

At least insert something along the lines of, "Steele must overcome his own demons to blah blah blah ..." Surely there's something that stands in the way of success beyond 14 different kinds of scumbag?

Excellent point, focus on his challenges, not background data dumps!

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

The biggest draw in any description is to outline the main story conflicts, rather than the actual plot details. Readers are drawn in by what drives the character to act and the challenges he faces, rather than knowing the background details that drew him there (those are better filled in during the early chapters, once you have the reader hooked)

May I quote you in the future?

That seems like a neat little explanation for an editor to save and pass on to authors as needed. :-)

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

IIRC, someone in my writers' group claimed that Lee Child doesn't write his own blurbs and is sometimes surprised at how his stories get summarised.

Just as traditionally published authors have no control over their book design of covers, they also have no say over their blurbs. Once their story text leaves their hands, they lose control over every other aspect (usually with positive results).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

It was just another of those all-too-common errors introduced during a revision process when one adjustment to the text causes an unnoticed grammatical error elsewhere.

Point taken, I didn't spend much time reviewing what I wrote, just suggesting alternatives for Switch to consider.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

because the phrase inside the commas is nonrestrictive, i.e. it describes the noun phrase it follows, not identify it.

I understood why the commas were required, but didn't like how they broke up the flow. The em-dashes leaves the words the same, but replaces the commas (not a great help, but a more subtle one). Rephrasing it IS the best option.

I'm also not fond of the "former Army Ranger", because as anyone in the military will tell you, they remain "Army Strong" forever, even if old and invalid. That's why I keep replacing it with "veteran".

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

May I quote you in the future?

Of course, despite appearance, I don't offer advice to hear myself talk, but to save others the trials and travails I've encountered. When I obsess, it's because I've learned lessons the hard way, and know it's better to avoid them than having to relearn how to do things correctly after having learned bad habits.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I don't offer advice to hear myself talk, but to save others the trials and travails I've encountered.

However twitchy I get on occasions, I'm sure I'm not alone in always appreciating the experience, insights, and care that go into the preparation of our Sermons from the Berg.

Now, if only we could find you a reliable proofreader for your posts ... :-)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Now, if only we could find you a reliable proofreader for your posts ... :-)

Unfortunately, my excellent editors aren't on immediate call, twenty-four seven (as many of them live in far-different time zones, if nothing else).

But now you can see the challenges my editors have in making my stories legible! 'D

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

That seems like a neat little explanation for an editor to save and pass on to authors as needed. :-)


I'm not convinced that's right. When I'm reading blurb, I like to know where a story is heading. Knowing that the protagonist is an alcoholic going through a messy divorce is less important than knowing the protagonist is a detective investigating the kidnapping of the President's daughter.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I'm not convinced that's right. When I'm reading blurb, I like to know where a story is heading. Knowing that the protagonist is an alcoholic going through a messy divorce is less important than knowing the protagonist is a detective investigating the kidnapping of the President's daughter.


Yet, in that case, you want to know that the story revolves around the protagonist risking his life as he struggles with his inner demons (if nothing else, so you can avoid it if it's a squick), rather than knowing who kidnapped her or how they did it. It's the struggles you highlight, NOT the story details.

The blurb, or story description, like the title, is only designed to draw them in enough to consider the book. You can easily cover the necessary details in the first few chapters, but readers want to know WHY they should read the book, and what they're likely to get out of it. Knowing they're fighting a Russian (as opposed to a Ukrainian, or mean girls) gang, means little to the average reader.

Replies:   awnlee_jawking
awnlee_jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Yet, in that case, you want to know that the story revolves around the protagonist risking his life as he struggles with his inner demons (if nothing else, so you can avoid it if it's a squick), rather than knowing who kidnapped her or how they did it. It's the struggles you highlight, NOT the story details.


We'll have to disagree. That's not why I read the blurb.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

someone in my writers' group claimed that Lee Child doesn't write his own blurbs


I doubt any traditionally published author writes their own blurbs. There's a marketing group to do that. And since it's marketing, it may not reflect the actual story. Just like the cover might not.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

eliminate the list of crimes data dump in the description


Still working on it. Was trying to show how bad they were. The "enslaved" is important.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@sejintenej


My immediate view would be to replace "are incapable of" with "cannot"


Thanks. I think I changed it to "powerless."

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I'm assuming he becomes romantically linked to the women he frees, so focus on that instead of what the gang did


Not romantically, but sexually. That's the erotica part. A lot of it, though, it not erotica. It is a thriller with a character a cross between Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry.

I will be adding something about the women though.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The biggest draw in any description is to outline the main story conflicts, rather than the actual plot details. Readers are drawn in by what drives the character to act and the challenges he faces,


Exactly. And what he has to lose if he fails.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Tightening up a bit (again):


I'm actually making it longer. I looked at some traditionally published novels. Theirs is many paragraphs. I was thinking about the short and sweet description we use on SOL.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

It is a thriller with a character a cross between Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry.

Where is the cross in that?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'm also not fond of the "former Army Ranger", because as anyone in the military will tell you, they remain "Army Strong" forever, even if old and invalid. That's why I keep replacing it with "veteran".


"Former" is better. When he met with a guy in a secret government agency, that person called him Major Steele. Steele said "Just Steele. I'm a civilian." There's a lot about the character about that.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

Where is the cross in that?


What do you mean? Are you saying Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry are the same?

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Are you saying Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry are the same?

I wouldn't say exactly the same but they have more character traits in common than separately. Hercule Poirot and Jack Reacher I'd call a cross. Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry are more a parallel.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Are you saying Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry are the same?

It's not obvious to me how you think they differ.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I doubt any traditionally published author writes their own blurbs. There's a marketing group to do that. And since it's marketing, it may not reflect the actual story. Just like the cover might not.

Chances are, those responsible for both the cover and the blurb will NEVER read the book itself! There are just too many books to cover, and their jobs don't require them too. If the book is successful, then they'll decide to read it after their friends tell them to. :(

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Still working on it. Was trying to show how bad they were. The "enslaved" is important.

Again, I'm not trying to dictate what you write, just suggesting alternatives as well as things to keep in mind. How you implement the suggestions (or not at all) in entirely your bailiwick.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Not romantically, but sexually. That's the erotica part. A lot of it, though, it not erotica. It is a thriller with a character a cross between Jack Reacher and Dirty Harry.

I will be adding something about the women though.

That's fine. My point, though, is that the sex/romance isn't the main driver of the story (i.e. not the main conflict) but only a relatively minor subplot.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Exactly. And what he has to lose if he fails.

Bingo! The man wins a Cupie doll!

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I'm actually making it longer. I looked at some traditionally published novels. Theirs is many paragraphs. I was thinking about the short and sweet description we use on SOL.

I typically start with two, but end up with three. For the book cover (back), you generally want it as long as possible, while again avoiding too much detail.

Once you have a decent blurb, you can easily trim it, shortening it to just the basics, but it's best to start with a decent description.

I've also been known to revise descriptions if I don't think the story are getting a decent reception from readers/viewers. Eliminating the 'romance' portion in my lesbian detective story got me a LOT more purchases (Zero vs. 15)!

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Where is the cross in that?

Easy, they're both cross. Now throw in Archie Bunker and House and you've got one cranky son-of-a-bitch! 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

"Former" is better. When he met with a guy in a secret government agency, that person called him Major Steele. Steele said "Just Steele. I'm a civilian." There's a lot about the character about that.

Perfectly understandable. Still, few "ex" marines think of themselves as being "ex", since it helped build their current characters (either pro or anti-military). Thus they'll often take offense at the "former" terminology. In essence, whatever they decide, it's THEIR choice, not whoever they're talking to at the moment (i.e. it's personal, not public).

I got called on that too many times to tread over the same minefield again!

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


It's not obvious to me how you think they differ.


Dirty Harry is a cop who stretches the law. Reacher is ex-miliary (although MP) who makes his own laws. But I can see where you guys are coming from.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Still, few "ex" marines think of themselves as being "ex", since it helped build their current characters


I'm not going to get into it here, but his Special Ops assignments definitely built his character. And he finds it troubling, but learned to live with it. His military background is part of his past, but it's not something he talks about. But he also has no qualms with putting a bullet into the head of an unarmed man. Unlike the police. I've said too much.

Switch Blayde

Ok, here it is (as of now). Anything glaringly wrong?

Stores are being vandalized. Shop owners beaten, extorted. Their wives and daughters violated. Women are enslaved, forced into prostitution. No one is safe from the brutal gang terrorizing the city. Fear keeps the victims mum, except those brave enough to trust the system. But going to the police doesn't help. It makes it worse. The police are powerless to stop the gang, constrained by the rules of law which the gang uses to their advantage.

Lincoln Steele lives by no such rules. The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken for justice to be served. Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help at risk.

REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I like it. The one thing I did note is:

the gang uses to their advantage. - I would reword it to say, to its advantage. Gang and uses are singular while their is plural.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

I would reword it to say, to its advantage


Thanks.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

I like it, too. Just this one sentence sounds a bit strange to me.

Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help at risk.

I guess it means he acts recklessly in regards to the women. Otherwise, I'd wonder why you point out the risk to their lives since from the previous statements it's was apparent their life was at risk with or without Steele's involvement.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Ok, here it is (as of now). Anything glaringly wrong?


Right off the top, you already know my aversion to "be" verbs, and in this case, it's present tense while the rest of the paragraph is past, making it an odd-choice, so I'd replace "Stores are being vandalized" with "Stores were vandalized. Stop openers beaten and extorted. ..." Likewise with "Women are enslaved". "Women enslaved" fits the other sentences better, but "are" certainly isn't wrong, it just doesn't fit the rest of the paragraph as well.

"Terrorizing the city" is a little redundant.

Personal preference, I'd switch "former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken for justice to be served", instead going for the more generic (and legal according to the military code of conduct): "former Army Ranger knew how to operate under the radar, seeking out and eliminating the scum terrorizing the city" (it's OK to use here, since here you're reinforcing the prior acts, rather than repeating them).

One last point, I'd end with a more dramatic line, such as: "Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help in danger, when his attempts to help the captives exposes him and puts them all in grave danger."

But again, each of these are just my own spin, as none of them are 'wrong' in any way.

Hope that helps and isn't just nit-picking the details endlessly. :(

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Right off the top, you already know my aversion to "be" verbs, and in this case, it's present tense while the rest of the paragraph is past, making it an odd-choice

The entire blurb is, correctly, set in the present. The verbs using a past tense are 'had been' and 'promised (to help)' in the second paragraph. They need a past tense because they're actions completed at an earlier time. The '-ed' words in the first paragraph are not verbs; they are past participles of verbs functioning as adjectives.

"are" certainly isn't wrong, it just doesn't fit the rest of the paragraph as well.

That struck when I first read it as not ungrammatical, but a serious stylistic no-no. The first four sentences are:
Stores are being vandalized.
Shop owners beaten, extorted.
Their wives and daughters violated.
Women are enslaved, forced into prostitution.

To me, all of those sentences are using the verb 'are being', which is implied in all except the first. Those are ungrammatical sentence fragments - but the way they're being used is grammatically correct: they are using a parallel structure to imply the repetition of the same verb in successive clauses.
However, as a matter of style, once you start omitting particular words in a parallel structure you should continue omitting them for as long as you can. I found the (re-)inclusion of 'are' before 'enslaved' very jarring. As CW said, "it just doesn't fit the rest of the paragraph."
You could repeat 'are being' in the second sentence, I probably would do that, but I'd definitely cur the 'are' out of the last.

* * *

A minor point, and one open to the author's preference, but after repeatedly pushing you to use more short sentences, I'm now going to say my gut reaction is the first sentences take it too far.
There is no logical explanation for it, it's just a consequence of human nature, but a rhetorical maxim employed by great orators since the days of the ancient Greeks (if not before) is:
Repeating a similar structure three times can be sublime; repeating it a fourth time almost always sounds tedious!

My solution would be to replace the full stop after 'enslaved' with a semi-colon. And seriously, I think it makes a vast difference.

My suggested rewrite of the opening to the blurb is:
Stores are being vandalized. Shop owners are being beaten, extorted; their wives and daughters violated. Women enslaved and forced into prostitution.

I expect I'll have more to say about the rest later, but right now, there's I can hear a latte calling to me from the local mall. :-)

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

I'd wonder why you point out the risk to their lives since from the previous statements it's was apparent their life was at risk with or without Steele's involvement.


I can't give away the plot. But let's say a woman is being held. If the gang knew there was a relationship between them, she'd be killed.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

it's present tense while the rest of the paragraph is past,


It's all present tense. The verb is left out of the others, but is assumed for parallelism.

I could combine them into one sentence as:

Stores are being vandalized, shop owners beaten and extorted, their wives and daughters violated.


I thought it would have more impact as separate fragmented sentences.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I found the (re-)inclusion of 'are' before 'enslaved' very jarring.


Up until that point, it was the store owners' families. But the prostitution goes beyond the store owners. In fact, it's mostly not the store owners' families.

I think I'll take out the "being" in the first one. Thx.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Thanks, Ross, you fleshed out my rough idea in grammatical specification I couldn't have. I also agree with the rule of three (I can't for the life of me think of the name of that rhetorical/literary style).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

But let's say a woman is being held. If the gang knew there was a relationship between them, she'd be killed.

That's sorta what I assumed, given the way you were dancing around it. Still, it seems to stand out, implying something completely different. Since the blurb isn't SUPPOSED to be about the plot itself (i.e. it doesn't have to follow the plot precisely, much like the cover), I'd rephrase it so it doesn't sound like an oversight. But again, that's just me, as it stands on it's own grammatically.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I think I'll take out the "being" in the first one. Thx.

That covers my issue too, though Ross explained my objection better than I did, along with supplying a reason for it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Still, it seems to stand out, implying something completely different.


It's in there because of "Exactly. And what he has to lose if he fails.
Bingo! The man wins a Cupie doll!"

I needed something about what he has to lose if he fails.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I think I'll take out the "being" in the first one. Thx.
That covers my issue too,


I not only took out the "being," but I made some slight changes. I also remembered one of your posts talking about the em-dash. So I added one for impact. Here's the current version:

Stores are vandalized. Shop owners beaten and extorted. Their wives and daughters violated. Women, enslaved and forced into prostitution, are living a life of hell. No one is safe from the brutal gang terrorizing the city.

Fear keeps the victims mum, except those brave enough to trust the system. But going to the police doesn't help. It makes it worse. The police are powerless to stop the gang, constrained by the rules of law which the gang uses to its advantage.

Lincoln Steele lives by no such rules. The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken—for justice to be served. Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help at risk.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It's in there because of "Exactly. And what he has to lose if he fails.
Bingo! The man wins a Cupie doll!"

I needed something about what he has to lose if he fails.

I get the need for it, it's just that, as robberhands points out, there's a double, and more likely interpretation (since you never defined the relationship), thus I thought you might want to clarify the meaning, so readers aren't scratching their heads at the end of the story.

Never mind, reading it over again, it's fine the way it is. No need to change it at all. It is possible to misinterpret it, but I think it's unlikely. Leave it alone.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I LIKE this version. Just keep in mind, if you decide to publish it yourself, most self-publishing sites DON'T allow publishing marks in the story descriptions, but I don't think that applies to you anyway.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

most self-publishing sites DON'T allow publishing marks in the story descriptions, but I don't think that applies to you anyway.


It's going to be on Amazon KDP. The em-dash won't display properly?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

you fleshed out my rough idea in grammatical specification

Whoops! This was meant to be @Switch Blayde

I'm not always a pain in the arse, eh?

Give me time! ... I haven't looked beyond the first paragraph yet. :-)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

@ You
I think I'll take out the "being" in the first one. Thx.
@ CW
That covers my issue too, though Ross explained my objection better than I did, along with supplying a reason for it.

... and the point of my entire explanation was, in my not-so-humble opinion, the final 'are' really must be deleted.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Stores are vandalized.

That says the vandalizing has ended. :(
Technically, it uses the Simple Present Tense with active voice of the verb to be. Vandalized is a past participle functioning as an adjective.

Do you recall CW sometimes saying here that the verb to be can sometimes behave as if they were passive? This is an example of that.
If you created the Present Complete Tense with passive voice of the verb to vandalize, you'd get exactly what you now have.
(Actually, that statement is false ... but let's not bother with the fact you'd also need a direct object to make your verb transitive.)

You need the Present Continuous Tense with Passive Voice of to vandalize:
Stores are being vandalized.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Fear keeps the victims mum

Consider finding an alternative to mum. Most speakers of BrE say 'Mum' when those using AmE say 'Mom'. The word association some readers will make is the opposite of what you want.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Stores are vandalized.
That says the vandalizing has ended. :(


I don't see it that way.

"Stores were vandalized" says it ended. But although stores were vandalized, it's still going on. And since blurbs are written in present tense, it makes sense to write "stores are vandalized."

"Stores are being vandalized" works too, but then the next few sentences cause a problem. And I didn't want to combine them into one.

For now, I'm leaving it as is.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Consider finding an alternative to mum.


I actually thought "mum" was too cute a word, not that it was "mom." Thanks, I changed it.

Stores are vandalized. Shop owners beaten and extorted. Their wives and daughters violated. Women, enslaved and forced into prostitution, are living a life of hell. No one is safe from the brutal gang terrorizing the city.

Fear causes the victims to clam up, except those brave enough to trust the system. But going to the police doesn't help. It makes it worse. The police are powerless to stop the gang, constrained by the rules of law which the gang uses to its advantage.

Lincoln Steele lives by no such rules. The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken—for justice to be served. Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help at risk.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

@ Me
Stores are vandalized.
That says the vandalizing has ended. :(

@ You
I don't see it that way.

Have a look at the-conjugation.com for the verb vandalize.

You will not find "they are vandalized" among the valid forms of the verb to vandalize. That is because the verb phrase in the sentence is are, and vandalized is an adjective. The sentence says at this moment there are stores that were vandalized in the past.

What you need to say a campaign of vandalizing stores exists at this time, not necessarily at this moment but something ongoing, is the Present Continuous Tense of be. That is at the top of the right-side column here.

You DO NOT need to change anything else in the last draft you posted. The only other actual verbs in the first paragraph are 'are living' and 'is'. They're both okay.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

OK, I'm convinced. It was what I originally wrote. Here it is again:

Stores are being vandalized. Shop owners beaten and extorted. Their wives and daughters violated. Women, enslaved and forced into prostitution, are living a life of hell. No one is safe from the brutal gang terrorizing the city.

Fear causes the victims to clam up, except those brave enough to trust the system. But going to the police doesn't help. It makes it worse. The police are powerless to stop the gang, constrained by the rules of law which the gang uses to its advantage.

Lincoln Steele lives by no such rules. The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken—for justice to be served. Steele goes after the gang, putting his life and the lives of those he promised to help at risk.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

OK, I'm convinced.

OK, I'm satisfied ... if that's not being too presumptuous.

I would also consider "went" instead of "had been" before "on enough Special Ops missions".

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It's going to be on Amazon KDP. The em-dash won't display properly?

Not in the blurb. Since the blurb is technically NOT a part of the book, they rely on each individual machine to display the text, thus it'll display differently on a Mac and a PC (i.e. they're not displaying it using standard html, which most browsers support).

I don't know why they've adopted that limiting technique, but I've run into time after time (whenever I forget to remove a publishing mark like a 'smart' apostrophe). The description on the back of the book will be fine, since it is a part of the book, but the description on the sales page won't support it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

you fleshed out my rough idea in grammatical specification

Whoops! This was meant to be @Switch Blayde

Nope. YOU, Ross, fleshed out my ideas (for Switch) better than I could. I was giving you credit, assuming that Switch had already seen and read it.

It was a backhanded way of saying "Thank you".

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Consider finding an alternative to mum. Most speakers of BrE say 'Mum' when those using AmE say 'Mom'. The word association some readers will make is the opposite of what you want.

"Silent" words.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I don't see it that way.

"Stores were vandalized" says it ended. But although stores were vandalized, it's still going on. And since blurbs are written in present tense, it makes sense to write "stores are vandalized."

I agree with Switch. While your point, Ross, makes sense, it really doesn't apply in this context. However, it emphasizes WHY I was stressing keeping the tenses consistent between paragraphs (i.e. removing the final "are"), in that it keeps the readers mind focused on the present tense, rather than forcing them to figure out which tense you're referring to.

Making most simple past tense is fine, as long as readers assume you're describing something occurring in 3rd person past tense, which most fiction readers will.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I would also consider "went" instead of "had been" before "on enough Special Ops missions".

Character counts—especially on SOL—are not an inconsequential consideration. As I said earlier, it's best to get the full description perfect, and then simply it using the least amount of words/characters possible.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Not in the blurb.


Let me clarify. My novels are ebook only so I'm not talking about the blurb on the back cover.

It's on the Amazon KDP webpage for the novel.

When you click on the book cover, the novel's page comes up. Below the price is the blurb (don't remember what Amazon calls it). That's what I'm talking about.

The em-dash and ellipsis work fine inside the ebook.

BTW, ignore my email. After sending it I came back to the forum and saw your reply.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken


If you are still open to suggestions, I would change the above to make it less passive. Something like:

The former Army Ranger learned during his Special Ops missions that rules sometimes need to be broken

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

It was a backhanded way of saying "Thank you".

I got that someone said "Thank you" to me.
I had a brain fart about who said it. :(

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

While your point, Ross, makes sense, it really doesn't apply in this context.

Can we agree on this?
There are times I know that I know the grammar. This is one of those times. However, natural speakers sometimes have an alarming ability (to someone like me) to figure out what ungrammatical constructions are intended to mean. "Incorrect" grammar can sometimes work, and may help an experienced writer achieve the kinds of consistencies you say you were looking for. But that can be risky! For me, I like the safety of grammatically correct verbs and I tend to restrict my play with words to the other parts of speech.

Ross at Play

@REP

I would change the above to make it less passive. Something like:
The former Army Ranger learned during his Special Ops missions that rules sometimes need to be broken

I'm going to think about that one. I think you just taught me something new about grammar. :-)

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

I like the safety of grammatically correct verbs and I tend to restrict my play with words to the other parts of speech.

Verbal foreplay is safer than other kinds of foreplay, but may not be as much fun.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@REP

If you are still open to suggestions, I would change the above to make it less passive.


I am, but I think I like the passive version better. I don't know why, though.

Replies:   awnlee jawking  REP
Ross at Play

@REP

In my last post here I said to you:
I'm going to think about that one. I think you just taught me something new about grammar. :-)

Well, I have thought about it, and you identified something new I am grateful to learn about grammar. :-)
You revised a sentence SB wrote From this:

The former Army Ranger had been on enough Special Ops missions to know that rules sometimes need to be broken ...

To this:

The former Army Ranger learned during his Special Ops missions that rules sometimes need to be broken ...

I have placed all changes in bold font.

What you did was find one good active verb, 'learned', to convey the same meaning as had required both a be-verb, 'had been', and an "infinitive form" [aka the to-form] of another verb, 'to know'.

That required an adjustment of some connecting words for the new version to make sense, from 'on enough' to 'during his'. That is not a big deal; the big deal was finding the right active verb to replace an awkward construction that requires two verbs.

What did I learn? I learned a new type of construction to look out for - which may provide an opportunity to improve a sentence.
That construction has the form: ... be-verb ... to other-verb ...
The trick is going to be that an enhancement will probably not be possible using anything with the same root word as 'other-verb'. It will probably require an entirely different root word.

I note that you changed the root word 'know' to 'learn'. They are related: 'to know' can be a consequence of 'to learn'.
The right question to ask when I notice this type of construction is: what action can create the verb I want to replace?

I will look out for constructions like this and hopefully I'll be able to report back here other examples where this has been useful.

I would make one further comment to anyone who wants to try find things like this. It is possible this could work with more than just the to-form of verbs. In various situations the root verb alone, and the -ing form of verbs can behave in ways very similar to the to-form. I will be looking for those forms appearing after a be-verb for potential constructions that might be possible to improve.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

#MeToo. It sounds more of a drawn-out process, more emphatic.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Let me clarify. My novels are ebook only so I'm not talking about the blurb on the back cover.

Understood, but that doesn't mean you can't include the description somewhere else in the ebook. My point, though, is that the limitation of publication marks only restricts the descriptions on the publishing outlets' sales pages.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

If you are still open to suggestions, I would change the above to make it less passive. Something like:

The former Army Ranger learned during his Special Ops missions that rules sometimes need to be broken

"Often" works better than the somewhat passive "sometimes". It's a stronger phrase, sounding less theoretical. Often doesn't specify a frequency, merely stating that it's necessary to bend the rules on specific occasions.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I got that someone said "Thank you" to me.
I had a brain fart about who said it. :(

Brain farts are standard operating procedure here on the Author's Forum. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

For me, I like the safety of grammatically correct verbs and I tend to restrict my play with words to the other parts of speech.

Luckily, you can almost always repharse a sentence or even a paragraph, to get around such problems. There are millions of ways of rephrasing the same thing, but when an author feels they got something just the way they want it, they're often unwilling to concede that simple grammar makes it unacceptable. :(

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Verbal foreplay is safer than other kinds of foreplay, but may not be as much fun.

Are you suggesting we all use grammar condoms?

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The right question to ask when I notice this type of construction is: what action can create the verb I want to replace?

I will look out for constructions like this and hopefully I'll be able to report back here other examples where this has been useful.

Since I've been trying for some time to eliminate "be" verbs, I've noticed that relationship, often needing to switch to stronger action verbs from weaker, passive verbs, which not only eliminates the awkward "be" verb, but makes the entire sentence stronger at the same time—which is yet another argument for doing away with "be" verbs altogeher—though as we've noted, it's not always a simple process.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

I've noticed that relationship

I was impressed by my achievement doing that today. :-)
One question ... I think I've detected "be-verb ... to other-verb" as one form that's a candidate for potential refinements. Have you noticed either a verb root alone or an -ing form of a verb are also potential candidates?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

switch to stronger action verbs from weaker, passive verbs, which not only eliminates the awkward "be" verb, but makes the entire sentence stronger at the same time


Not necessarily. There's a place for passive in fiction.

"The gun was found on the floor" — passive
"Joe found the gun on the floor" — active

If the focus of the sentence is the gun, rather than finding it, the passive sentence is better.

I think that's why I like the passive version of my sentence. The focus is on Special Ops not that he learned to break rules — "...had been on enough Special Ops missions..."

There are Army Rangers and then there are those who go on classified missions that might be assassinations or other operations that aren't black and white.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@Switch Blayde

No problem. We all should go with what seems the best for our stories.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

To me, 'sometimes' implies rarely and 'often' implies frequently. So to me, using 'often' would mean most rules are subject to being ignored all of the time, and thus rules would cease to limit peoples' actions.

To fit into a society, your MC must comply with most rules and be very selective in those they chose to violate.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


they're often unwilling to concede that simple grammar makes it unacceptable. :(


But the author is in charge, not grammar. So if authors are willing to take the Grammar Nazis' rebukes, they should do what they think is right for the story.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

There's a place for passive in fiction ... If the focus of the sentence is the gun, rather than finding it, the passive sentence is better.

I agree with your approach. Even if the endpoints are the same, it seems the more logical way of getting there.
I cannot claim I actually do this myself, but in theory at least, I think it's logical the steps should be:
* What is the focus of my idea? Make that the subject of my sentence.
* What is the action I want to describe? Use that as my verb.
If the verb ends up in the passive voice, so be it. I never specifically look at that.
For example:
(A) He gave the book to me.
(B) The book was given to me by him.
Sentence A is active; sentence B is passive. I don't think one is inherently better than the other, but I hope I'd choose version A in many more situations than version B.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ross at Play

Have you noticed either a verb root alone or an -ing form of a verb are also potential candidates?

Not really, you seem to have identified the main culprit, and I largely deal with it by focusing an active verb replacements. I haven't noticed that type of effect with -ing verbs, and I use those a LOT!!!

Ross at Play

@REP

But the author is in charge, not grammar. So if the author is willing to take the Grammar Nazis' rebukes, they should do what they think is right for the story.

Yes, but ...
As an editor, I often object to authors' incorrect grammar, but I DO NOT object because the grammar is wrong; I object BECAUSE the meaning of their words is not what they want the reader to understand.
I can agree an author "should do what they think is right for the story" - but the author must actually think about what is right for the story. Only then, in my opinion, is it legitimate for authors to say, "if the grammar is wrong, then damn the grammar."
What I see all too often is authors not thinking about whether their words have the meaning they want. If they do, and they decide they can be confident readers will interpret the meaning they want, then go ahead with whatever you think works best.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

I just received this post today from D2D concerning book descriptions:

You may have heard it called a 'book description,' a 'product description,' a 'blurb,' or 'back cover copy.' There are a lot of names for it, but the point of it is to help readers discover your book!

One of the trickiest things about writing book descriptions is getting out of 'author' mode and getting into 'copywriter' mode. You have to stop thinking of the book description as just a synopsis for the book, and start thinking of it in terms of marketing and promotion.

The purpose of a book description is to improve the odds that a reader will purchase your book.

While the subject and verb should always agree, in a story blurb, you're more interested in attracting readers, than in subtle nuances. In those cases, active if usually more powerful than passive—even if you use passive phrases often in your book. Again, this is a marketing tool, not a summary of the book's plot!

You want short and sweet, with enough description to grab the reader, while leaving enough open questions and highlighting what the story's main conflicts are.

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book! You can be as accurate and as nuanced as you want in the story, but if no one ever reads it, they won't care!

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book!


So I buy the book, and then find the content does not reflect the blurb that caused me to buy the book.

The lesson learned is don't buy that author's books.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I object BECAUSE the meaning of their words is not what they want the reader to understand.


And you somehow have perfect understanding of what the AUTHOR wanted the READER to understand?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@REP

So I buy the book, and then find the content does not reflect the blurb that caused me to buy the book.


Not exactly. This is the blurb of my first novel:

A product of her upbringing, Elizabeth Hathaway was taught that sex is a sin to enjoy—beliefs reinforced by her husband, Pastor Milford Hathaway. When she strays into the world of pornography, Jeff Wateman learns of her dark secret. He's back in town seeking revenge on Pastor Hathaway and plans to use her to disgrace her husband before killing him. Elizabeth is nothing more than collateral damage, until Jeff falls in love with her.


That's one sub-plot. There's a whole other sub-plot of a cop seeking revenge for the rape of his sister. I never mention it in the blurb. So the blurb is what the story is about, although only part of it.

As far as I'm concerned, the second sub-plot will be a pleasant surprise to the reader. He got two stories for the price of one. btw, the two sub-plots come together.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book!

I concede. The function of a blurb is very different to what's inside the story.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

And you somehow have perfect understanding of what the AUTHOR wanted the READER to understand?

When the meaning of the words written is inconsistent with the story I can usually guess closely enough what the author's intentions were.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book!


My post was intended as a general remark and not focused on you SB. I added bolding but what CW stated was:

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book!


I have read blurbs describing scenes that do not appear in the book. I have also read blurbs that contain highly distorted descriptions of what is in the book. Most of us buy a book based on the content of the blurb, and most people believe it is the author who writes the blurb. But that may not be true of books that are not self-published. So if the blurb feeds us inaccurate information, we are not going to trust that author's blurbs in the future and we are less likely to buy their future books.

awnlee jawking

@REP

So I buy the book, and then find the content does not reflect the blurb that caused me to buy the book.


I took out a Tess Gerritson book which described itself as 'a Maura Isles mystery'. Maura Isles appeared only briefly right at the story and was basically completely irrelevant to the plot.

Lesson learned. Don't trust the blurb on a Gerritson book.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

So I buy the book, and then find the content does not reflect the blurb that caused me to buy the book.

The lesson learned is don't buy that author's books.

No. Once again, the title gets you to pick the book off the shelf (in a traditional book store), the cover gets them to read the description, the description hopefully gets them to read the first page, and the writing will convince whether to buy or not. A single failure on ANY of those steps will likely cost you a sale, but once they've made the sale, they're unlikely to penalize you for the marketing, as long as the book is good. If the book is crap, then that's your own fault!

The key is, you need each of those steps, with really compelling material: name, image, description, first line, first paragraph and first page, but when you've made the sale, the book will stand on its own, for good or ill.

That's also why traditional publishers rarely let authors write their own copy, design their own covers, or format their own books. The fact that we, independent publishers, have to, is just another burden of being an independent—we have to do everything ourselves!

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

That's one sub-plot. There's a whole other sub-plot of a cop seeking revenge for the rape of his sister. I never mention it in the blurb. So the blurb is what the story is about, although only part of it.

As far as I'm concerned, the second sub-plot will be a pleasant surprise to the reader. He got two stories for the price of one. btw, the two sub-plots come together.

That's also why it's better to focus on the conflicts, rather than the plot details. I like adding the character name in each of my blurbs, just so the character seems 'real' to the reader, but they shouldn't get caught up in the details of a story they haven't read. Thus you focus on WHY the reader wants to read the book. What's the book really about (content wise), and not just detail wise. If you focus on those, you won't go wrong, as it's the conflict (good vs. evil, interpersonal, betrayal/redemption, loss vs discovery) that will keep them reading the story, regardless of the minor details in the story along the way.

That's what's often lost when publishing houses create the blurb. They haven't read the book, in most cases, so they use boilerplate to sell the book. The author knows not only the minor details in the book, but also the overarching conflicts, so your blurb is really a "this book is about two people, but it's really about ..." statement.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

And you somehow have perfect understanding of what the AUTHOR wanted the READER to understand?

When the meaning of the words written is inconsistent with the story I can usually guess closely enough what the author's intentions were.

That's one of the major jobs of an editor. If his story isn't conveying what he wants it to, it's up to the editor to tell them "this isn't saying what you think it does". It's up to the author to decide HOW to say it, but it's the editors job to warn the author when he's gone off track.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Lesson learned. Don't trust the blurb on a Gerritson book.

In the end, the title, cover, bio and first line are MUCH more vital than the story itself, because if the reader never picks up the book, they'll never see how great it is. It's essential to get them right.

You don't want to lie, but you also don't want to overwhelm them with details, and you don't want to describe 'scenes'. Let them encounter the specific scenes for themselves. Instead, you're describing the essential conflicts. WHY is the character concerned with this element? HOW will it change their lives? What's at stake if he fails? If the reader knows those essential elements, everything else is really immaterial to the story.

Unfortunately, few copy writers have time to read the stories they're assigned to promote, so they rely an standard genre boiler plate to sell a book they know nothing about. :(

Replies:   REP  awnlee jawking
REP

@Crumbly Writer

but once they've made the sale, they're unlikely to penalize you for the marketing,


You have a right to your personal opinion CW.

Personally, I don't like to be lied to. I see inaccurate and misleading information in a blurb as a form of lie. I don't trust people who lie to me for their personal gain.

I was looking for a new author and read the blurb on their book, which was the first of a trilogy. The book's blurb was false/misleading. I read the book and it was okay, but the story was not something that I generally enjoyed. I would not have bought the book if the blurb had not misled me, and I made a point of not reading any more of that author's works.

But that is me. Evidently you view being intentionally misled differently.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Crumbly Writer

You don't want to lie,


That is exactly what I have been saying. You wrote:

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book!


Glossing over details is okay. Forgetting about accuracy means it is okay for the blurb writer to add inaccurate information (i.e., lies)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Instead, you're describing the essential conflicts. WHY is the character concerned with this element? HOW will it change their lives? What's at stake if he fails? If the reader knows those essential elements, everything else is really immaterial to the story.


No, I'm not into literary fiction. I want a page-turner with a strong plot.

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


No, I'm not into literary fiction. I want a page-turner with a strong plot.


CW wasn't describing literary fiction.

plot = conflict. Without conflict there is no plot. The protagonist wants/needs something and the antagonist is in the way.

So what CW says is correct. The blurb defines the conflict. What happened to the character and what's at stake if he fails.

It's the conflict that keeps the reader turning pages. They're rooting for the character. They want to know if he'll succeed. In longer stories, mini-conflicts pop up. When one is resolved, another pops up. Those are the page turners. The extreme is the cliffhanger.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

A quote from CW:

That's also why it's better to focus on the conflicts, rather than the plot details.


Clearly he doesn't believe that plot = conflict.

Literary fiction is all about conflicts - confronting inner demons etc - with minimal plotting.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Clearly he doesn't believe that plot = conflict.

Literary fiction is all about conflicts - confronting inner demons etc - with minimal plotting.


I don't want to speak for CW, but I believe he's saying not to go into the entire plot (like a synopsis). Just address the part that will pique the reader's interest. Typically, that's what the character needs, what's in the way, and what happens if he fails. That's the meat of the plot and it's the conflict.

Literary fiction is all about the character, their emotions, and their development. To my knowledge, it's the only fiction that doesn't have to have a plot.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Personally, I don't like to be lied to. I see inaccurate and misleading information in a blurb as a form of lie. I don't trust people who lie to me for their personal gain.

Sigh! I NEVER suggested lying to reader. Instead, I'm suggesting that authors focus on something different when writing their story blurbs. Rather than focusing on details, if you focus on conflicts, what the characters are wrestling with in the story, readers have a better feel for what to expect in the story. You aren't LYING to readers, instead you're not overwhelming them with details you'd expect them to discover on their own.

I've acknowledged that Traditional Publishers often have a problem with some copy writers writing story descriptions which have NOTHING to do with the story, but don't assume I'm telling you to write nonsense when you write your own blurb.

I don't think you can find a SINGLE instance where I've EVER included anything FALSE about a story in ANY of my story descriptions.

Instead, my emphasis is that the story blurb is completely different than a simple story summary, and you need to approach it from an entirely new direction.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

That is exactly what I have been saying. You wrote:

Forget accuracy, concentrate on getting readers to pick up the book!

Glossing over details is okay. Forgetting about accuracy means it is okay for the blurb writer to add inaccurate information (i.e., lies)

Damn, you're either being intentional obtuse, or extremely literal. What I meant is that you DON'T want to get caught up in the nitty-gritty details. Instead, you want to change focus, concentrating on the issues which will attract readers to the story.

Is that REALLY so damn hard to understand that you've got to attack the individual words I use to describe it?

Replies:   REP
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

When I read the blurb, I want a good idea of the overarching story. Side conflicts play a miniscule part in influencing me whether to read a book.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

No, I'm not into literary fiction. I want a page-turner with a strong plot.

Geez! HAVE YOU PEOPLE NEVER read a book before?

There's nothing that says you can't write a strong plot. You can have all the action and/or sex you want. What I'm saying, is that the story description is DIFFERENT from the story itself, and it serves a completely different purpose. IT SHOULDN'T be written like the rest of the story.

By focusing on the story's conflicts, you're telling the readers whether this is a story that they'll be interested in reading, or whether they'll be bored to tears reading about a boring 'personal relationship' story.

Essentially, a Lot of extraneous details DON'T have any role in the description. You need a few, just to establish the necessary conflicts, but you want the readers to get the story details FROM THE STORY ITSELF, rather than you spoiling the first five or ten chapters by having told them upfront in the description.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Literary fiction is all about conflicts - confronting inner demons etc - with minimal plotting.

If you think there is NO plotting in literary fiction, then you're SADLY misinformed. It may not be all explosions and car chases, but there are typically very complicated plots and pacing issues, otherwise the stories wouldn't work at all.

You seem to create these artificial distinctions between what you CHOOSE to write, and what you have NO DESIRE to write.

The point isn't that you DON'T HAVE A PLOT in your novel, it's simply that readers expect to discover the plot when they read the story, thus the story description needs to tell them what's driving the story, rather than revealing details they don't yet CARE about.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

it's simply that readers expect to discover the plot when they read the story, thus the story description needs to tell them what's driving the story, rather than revealing details they don't yet CARE about.


That's an invalid generalisation that certainly excludes me. I want to know the direction of the plot. I don't read the blurb to discover character motivations.

AJ

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Geez! HAVE YOU PEOPLE NEVER read a book before?

May I suggest you've already done MORE THAN ENOUGH to explain the point you're trying to make.
Anyone who wants to understand will have got the message by now. Explaining it, yet again, to the others appears futile by this stage.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

When I read the blurb, I want a good idea of the overarching story. Side conflicts play a miniscule part in influencing me whether to read a book.


The main conflict is the overarching story. It's what the story is about.

Don't take "conflict" literally. You could have a comedy about two friends vying for the same girl. That's conflict — the protagonist wants her but his friend is in the way. That's what the story/plot is about. You don't have to cover all the story details in the blurb.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


, you're either being intentional obtuse, or extremely literal.


Probably literal. We are authors. We are supposed to be able to accurately express our ideas. When you clearly state to forget accuracy, to me and probably many other people in the forum, that means it is permissible to be inaccurate.

ETA: The next part of your statement essentially states that getting the SALE is what is important.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Literary fiction is all about the character, their emotions, and their development. To my knowledge, it's the only fiction that doesn't have to have a plot.


I'm not the only one who agrees with you:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/01/subsidise-writers-lost-plot-literary-fiction-authors-readers-story

BTW, an American on Twitter posted that today is National Science Fiction Day. Is that true?

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Probably literal. We are authors. We are supposed to be able to accurately express our ideas. When you clearly state to forget accuracy, to me and probably many other people in the forum, that means it is permissible to be inaccurate.

While I understand authors tendency to get hung up on the exact wording, keep in mind that I, for one, NEVER submit my forum posts for editing, thus I'll often use the incorrect word when responding in heat (what a scary thought!). Generally, it's best to keep the general theme of the message in mind before jumping on a single word used. Very often, it was used inadvertently.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

BTW, an American on Twitter posted that today is National Science Fiction Day. Is that true?

Ask the person who wrote the article. Oh wait, you can't, he's already returned to the future. 'D

Replies:   richardshagrin
REP

@Crumbly Writer

If I were to follow that advice, I might assume that you don't mean anything you say. I would have to assume you are writing sentences that don't reflect what you actually think and want to say. I and others could not know which sentences you mean and which are flawed.

Perhaps you should read and think about what you write before hitting the POST button.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

National Science Fiction Day

National Science Fiction Day is unofficially celebrated by many science fiction fans in the United States on January 2, which corresponds with the official birthdate of famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.[1]

While not an official holiday of any sort (in the sense that it is not recognized or declared by any government), National Science Fiction Day is given some degree of credence by its recognition by organizations such as the Hallmark Channel[2] and by the Scholastic Corporation.[3] It is also listed in the National Day Calendar.[4]

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

Thank you.

If I had known, I would have added a token word to a currently mothballed incomplete SciFi story :(

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@REP

If I were to follow that advice, I might assume that you don't mean anything you say. I would have to assume you are writing sentences that don't reflect what you actually think and want to say. I and others could not know which sentences you mean and which are flawed.

What I was saying, is that there are only two people who have EVER had a problem with specific word choices (other than to point our typos or incorrect word choice), and both of you continue to use it as a way to argue that post you originally dislike are completely invalid—something you never convince anyone else with because no one is confused by your deceptions.

If you stop looking for specific words to object to, or even just ask if I really intended to use that phrase, we'd waste a LOT less time in pointless, endless arguments.

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Let's see if I got this right.

You are saying that you write your posts to state what you mean to say. If we have a problem with what you post, we are to assume that you actually agree with our position and what you actually posted is just a poor choice of words on your part. We are to assume that you do not mean what you wrote and ask you if you really mean what you posted. Does that also mean that we are to ask you if you really mean those statements that we agree with. It is a double-edges blade that cuts both ways. We have to accept everything your post states, or none of it. We should not have to pick you post apart to determine whether you meant what you wrote.

On the other side of the coin, you hold all of us accountable for what we write. You expect all of us to select the appropriate words to convey our beliefs. You are not reluctant to express disagreement with what we write. Once again, that blade cuts both ways. Since you hold us accountable, then you should be accountable.

You wrote:

I, for one, NEVER submit my forum posts for editing, thus I'll often use the incorrect word when responding in heat (what a scary thought!). Generally, it's best to keep the general theme of the message in mind before jumping on a single word used. Very often, it was used inadvertently.


None of us submit our posts for editing. I can't speak for others, but I typically read what I write before posting it. If the wording doesn't mean what I want it to mean, I rewrite it. It is called being accountable for what you say before you say it.

I and others do keep the general theme of the message in mind. When the general theme says one thing and one or two words seem inappropriate, I assume it was a poor word choice and ignore it. However, when the word choices fit the general theme and I disagree with what is said, I comment on it. I will often pick out specific words and phrases, but it is the overall message that I have a problem with.

... something you never convince anyone else with because no one is confused by your deceptions.


See that is part of the problem. We tell you what we believe. You assumption is everyone should agree with you and your positions. You want all of us to accept your statements as accurate reflections of what you believe. You seem to have a problem believing that someone might disagree with what you say, so if someone disagrees, they must be trying to deceive others. Evidently, you chose to deny that some of us are really saying what we believe.

If you stop looking for specific words to object to, or even just ask if I really intended to use that phrase, we'd waste a LOT less time in pointless, endless arguments.


If you were to take a few moments to read what you write and correct any misstatements, as you said, we'd waste a LOT less time in pointless, endless arguments.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I think REP has a point with the conclusion of his last point.

If you were to take a few moments to read what you write and correct any misstatements, as you said, we'd waste a LOT less time in pointless, endless arguments.

From a perspective of simple efficiency, would it take more effort to proofread your posts before making them than the time currently spent engaged in pointless, endless arguments?

richardshagrin

And then there is endless, pointless proof-reading. Easier to hit the "Post" button and go on with life until the next brouse of "All Threads by Date".

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