Oh boy, the lessons never end! Recently I’ve been talking and thinking a lot about the interest/excitement factors in my writing. In brief – I’m great at evoking interest, through wacky world-building and lots of deep character hints – and not so great at evoking excitement, through conflict and danger and etc…
Well – in this post I get punched in the face again, and come back asking for more.
I’ve been rewriting Mr. Ruin to punch up the excitement and dial back the interest, and feeling like I’m succeeding. I’m thinking I have a killer blurb to reflect that – so I took it along to my Marketing group last night thinking they’ll have nothing to say because it’s just so on the damn ball.
I got my clock cleaned. Thank you sir, may I have another?
Here’s the old (new but old as of today) blurb:
2164. The Arctic Circle. Welcome to the Skulks…
It’s been a long time since Ritry risked his Soul on a deep-cortex data-hack. Once a renowned Soul Jacker, now he’s on the low-end outs of the Arctic Circle, peddling cheap memories in the neon-lit floating slums – staying out of trouble, mostly.
But Mr. Ruin has other ideas. He tracks Ritry down for one last job – a wetware heist unlike any attempted before – that could rewrite history itself.
It begins with a terrified girl escaping a brutal slumlord, but soon becomes a desperate race through a dying mind, in search of an incomprehensible power that threatens the last flotilla on Earth – and humanity along with it.
Ritry alone can stop it – but it may cost him his Soul.
Folks pointed out, in their own words, that it’s basically all interest. It’s world, not threat. We open with date, location, a welcome – interest. Paragraph one is all flat, about Ritry’s life to date – interest. Even Mr. Ruin’s intro has no threat – what is he, offering Ritry a job? So he can say no if he wants? Ugh! INTEREST!
However, the group universally hit on the line – ‘It begins with a terrified girl escaping a brutal slumlord.’ EXCITEMENT! Some said the Mr. Ruin para could just be skipped. Ha! That should be the best bit! What were the stakes, they asked? Yes, OK, the world might end, blah blah, but what are the personal stakes for Ritry? In what way is he personally endangered?
Fascinating. Having them point out that one line helps me see the difference here between interest and excitement. So I take that line and put it in the tagline, and reshape the rest so it follows, then reshape some more. I spent much of today wrangling words, trying to organize a blurb that represents the book and also crystalizes down to excitement, not interest.
Here’s what I’ve got:
2164. A desperate race through a dying mind…
It’s been a long time since Ritry risked his sanity on a deep-brain data-hack. Once a renowned Soul Jacker, now he peddles cheap memories on the neon-lit slums of the Arctic Circle – staying out of trouble, mostly.
Then a terrified girl bolts into his jack-site seeking a unique brain-hack, and Ritry helps her – earning the wrath of Don Zachary, vicious lord of the slums.
Ritry’s quiet life is abruptly over. Hounded by the Don, he flees into the abandoned spaces off the edge of the map – only to find a far crueler predator lying in wait, one with a dark taste for living Souls. Ritry’s last hope is a desperate hack into the lethal depths of a dying mind, hunting a legendary power that could threaten the last flotilla on Earth – and all humanity along with it.
Can Ritry save a world that long ago passed him by – and will it cost him his Soul?
Excitement in the tagline. First para of interest is OK I think, because now para 2 dives into a terrified girl, and Ritry taking a stand. Para 3 moves us forward, Ritry is taking action, his personal stakes (Soul) are clearer, with grander stakes in there too. The final question tag I don’t know about, but yes.
Better excitement, am I right? Man. I have such a blind spot for this stuff. Maybe now I have got too much, though? Maybe it goes from slumlords to mind-hacks and all humanity jerkily.
Either way, I’m more convinced than ever that the blurb matters. The right words in the right order absolutely do or don’t sell a book.