Learning from the Book Blurb and First Line of ‘Throne of Glass’

Author Sarah J. Maas

This post does not contain any spoilers.

Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

The book has a kick-ass cover. Apparently, the American version is not the same as this one? Why the publishers would do that when this cover is so dramatic, I will never know.

Book Blurb

Thone of Glass Cover

TWO MEN LOVE HER

THE WHOLE LAND FEARS HER

ONLY SHE CAN SAVE THEM ALL

In a world without magic, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the viscous king who rules from his throne of glass but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she will be released from prison to serve as the King’s Champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. And a princess from a faraway land with befriend her. But something evil dwells in teh castle–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

This is a great blurb. The first three sentences, centered at the top, set the tone. This is a serious book with serious consequences for failure: a romance within a dangerous setting. Not only are lives at risk but so are hearts. In the first paragraph, we learn about the protagonist, her circumstances and the setting.

The second paragraph increases the tension with effective phrasing: ‘fight for survival’, ‘desperate quest’ and ‘root out the evil’. The situation seems untenable. The question the reader ends up asking is: Why is she the only one who can save everyone? Will she succeed?

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Learning from the Book Blurb and the First Line of ‘The Martian’

Author: Andy Weir

This post contains no spoilers so read without trepidation.  However, you have probably already read this book because its been out a while, a movie has been made and the BOOK IS AMAZING!

Genre – Science Fiction or just plain fiction?

Again, my local chain bookstore had shelved this in a strange location, resulting in my wandering the aisles aimlessly, which I do whenever I get into a bookstore anyway. However, I like logic and it was shelved illogically in the literature section.

Umm… unless, I just woke up from a 20 year stupor, I’m pretty sure we haven’t visited Mars yet. This would put this book into the realm of science fiction. *sheesh*

Book BlurbThe Martian paperback

‘When a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, astronaut Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, completely alone.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?’

This blurb is fantastic. Only three sentences long and it does its job brilliantly. The first sentence tells you the setting is Mars, and the main character is Mark Watney, an astronaut. The next sentence characterizes the protagonist. You learn that he is smart and skilled with a ‘gallows sense of humor’. The blurb is setting you up to like him before you even read the first page.

The words used in the blurb evoke images that bring the book to life: ‘stranded on Mars’, ‘armed with nothing but his ingenuity’ and ‘dogged quest’. The hyperbole of ‘impossible odds’ in the last sentence makes the reader want to discover if he succeeded. Also, the last sentence is a question, which engages the reader.

Knowing that I’m going to have to come up with a book blurb of my own, I really appreciate one done so well.

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Learning from the Humour in’The Sword of Summer – Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard’

Author: Rick Riordan

These posts do not contain spoilers. In fact, I’d be surprised if you understood what the book was about from anything I write.

Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

The_Sword_of_SummerBook Blurb – Too long to write here and to tell you the truth, it didn’t grab me…at all. The blurb didn’t do this book justice. If you are looking at how to write a book blurb, do not use this book as an example. I don’t think I can say enough bad things about it.

First Lines – “Yeah, I know. You guys are going to read about how I died in agony, and you’re going be like, ‘Wow! That sounds cool, Magnus! Can I die in agony too?'”

This is an awesome book! I really enjoyed it and looked forward to reading subsequent chapters after I got too sleepy to keep going.

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Where Do Book Ideas Come From?

Since I’ve let people know that I’ve written a book — which I am currently revising, endlessly, it seems — people who I would never have thought would have any interest in sitting down to write a book have revealed their book ideas to me.  And usually, their ideas originate from what they are passionate about or an injustice they’ve experienced. Always, it has an educational component to it, they want to pass on knowledge they’ve acquired.

My book idea came from a passion of mine. If you know me well, you will not be surprised to hear what it is: the environment and the animals that live within it.

Photos: MARKOVICH PHOTO ART

I am a strong advocate for the environment. So much so that I have only taken jobs that work to protect it. I am an engineer that specializes in the treatment of wastewater, and I have been in this field for over 20 years.

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Middle Grade or Young Adult?

What is the difference between a middle grade book and a young adult book? I researched several websites, one of which surveyed editors and agents who work with both Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) writers to find the answers.

I summarized the findings and compared it to my novel to see where my fantasy novel would fit.

 

Middle Grade

Young Adult

My Book

Age of Reader 8 to 12 13+ Not entirely sure…
Word Count Up to 60,000 60,000+ Currently 82,000 but still editing
Age of Protagonist 10 to 13 14 to 18 13
Point of View Third First Third
Protagonist’s Concerns Own experience Others as well as themselves Others as well as herself
Inciting Element Single inciting element that throws their world into chaos Find out world is more complex than they thought Finds out world is more complex than she thought
Romance Does not play a large part in the plot; first kiss Takes up much more of the story; can involve sex Plays a small part in the story; first kiss

There is some overlap in the readers ages since some novels with milder plots and a 14 year-old main character could appeal to middle grade reader even though it would be classified as YA in the chart above.

The story line of middle grade protagonists tend to focus on what happens to them than with internal growth. Young adult story lines are more complex and generally have a character arc that shows how the events in the novel changed their attitudes and thinking.

AmyMessere Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Amy Messere Flickr Creative Commons

Taboo Content?

Most of the editors and agents surveyed agreed that no topic is taboo, whether it is sex, drugs, violence, domestic abuse or any other risque subjects.

What is important is how the subject matter is handled. A middle grade novel should not contain any graphic descriptions, but shouldn’t avoid difficult material either.

In fact, young people can use books as a safe way to explore these sensitive or edgy subjects.

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