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  1. #1

    Outcast - looking for some critique

    I've been working on this book concept for about 7 years now. It began with a short story in 2005 in a creative writing class and developed from there. In 2010-11 I wrote a 80k word novel (my first novel) which had a good response but was ultimately not good enough for publishing. This year (2012) I am completing my masters in creative writing and I am trying to use what I've learned to completely re-craft the story and the world from the ground up. This thread is my ongoing work on this book concept.

    Enjoy

    Malediction

    First book of a trilogy

    Tension between the Kaizer and the Orders, the representatives of the gods, has reached crisis point. Kaizer Frederik III has put forth an ultimatum, return all lands and wealth to its rightful owner, the Deutz Empire, or face the consequences…

    The Order of Alleman, and Godhart, awaits the arrival of a small child. Bound by an ancient oath, the child is to be escorted to Sanctuary, a place for her kind in the frozen north, but with the Deutz Empire on the brink of rebellion the Kaizer has no interest in the ancient oaths and duties of the Orders.

    When power rests in the hands of a few a single word can bring great good or terrible destruction, a curse of power, a malediction.

    Quote Originally Posted by old
    Outcast

    Book 1 of The Exiled Triumvirate

    Forsaken; Lynian is abominati, a taboo union of two species. Taken from the floating cities of the Soldii she is sent to the monastic Order of Allemann and put in the care of Godhart Leland, a venerated templar. But Godhart has problems of his own, chosen as successor of the Order and the target of a political plot; he needs to survive long enough to make it north to Sanctuary with his charge.

    Abandoned; after being orphaned Hensel is taken in by the Order and dreams of becoming a scribe, but after a series of unfortunate events he finds himself far from home in a foreign land. Discovered by Malik, a sahr of the Eranshar with a checkered past, he is offered a chance to fulfill his thirst for knowledge, but only if he can overcome the curse that threatens to erase his existence.

    Rejected; Felix is the heir to a powerful family. Between his oppressive father, a plot to remove him from the line of succession, and Ravus, the assassin hired to protect him, he struggles against family, friends, and a life with little choice.

    This is the tale of the triumvirate; three children born to a world of malicious politics, dogmatic cultures, and tragic pasts. When magic meets the renaissance and people are just a means to an end, there is little room for compromise.

    Quote Originally Posted by old
    I won't start another thread.

    Anyway, I've gone away, and thought about what everyone had said. Then I did some more thinking, wrote a few chapters, and came up with a new idea for a blurb.

    Still the same story. Just a new blurb.

    Critiques most welcome.

    Outcast

    Book 1 of The Exiled Triumvirate

    Three children born,
    To a world that does not want them,
    Three relics torn,
    From the gods that cannot find them,
    Three sages sworn,
    To guide and in the chaos bind them.

    When the Kingdom of Euraxis threatened to enslave the world, the old gods gifted three relics to tribes of Erd to restore the balance of power. Bound by oath the tribes promised to return the relics after they had destroyed the armies of Euraxis, but corrupted by power and greed the tribes of Erd broke their oath and turned on each other. In the chaos of war the relics were lost and a fragile peace ensued… until now.

    Five millennia later the Kingdom of Euraxis has risen again. The people of Erd have forgotten the old gods and worship a new magic called science. The relics, all but forgotten, lay dormant waiting to be found and by chance, make their way into the hands of three young children. With the world of Erd on the brink of war, the children begin their own journeys to fulfill the oath of their ancestors.


    Quote Originally Posted by old
    A little background. I've been lurking and posting around for a few years now and finished a 80k word fantasy novel last year. I sent it to some publishers who said the work was good, but not good enough to publish. Embolden by my failure I signed up for a masters degree in creative writing which I will complete in a few months.

    Looking back on my work now I feel it was a great experience and really built a foundation for the world I wanted to create. What I want to do now is go back and rewrite the book so that it is better than my first attempt and also more commercially viable.

    I have come up with a short blurb which I would like some critique on. The most important questions I want answered are:
    1. Does it sound interesting?
    2. If you read it on a website (like amazon) or on the back cover of a book would you read a sample chapter or flick through the book?
    3. Does it sound original? Does the story bear resemblance to something that has been published before or is currently popular? (I do read fantasy, I am just not as widely read as some and would like to know if I have blatantly ripped off any author subconsciously)

    Thank you in advance

    (Working title)

    Blurb

    Outcast

    Godhart Leland is dying. Old, weary, and afflicted by illness he wants to live out the final years of his life in peace, but it is not an age which lets old men rest. Charged with the protection of a young girl labeled an abomination by her people, the alien Soldii, and given the mantle of leadership of the church of Alleman, Godhart travels north on a sacred pilgrimage to find his final resting place.
    Last edited by Princeroth; October 2nd, 2012 at 08:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Bewildered Visitor Wojciehowicz's Avatar
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    There's a Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson 70s flick in this somehow. I think what you need is more about the world that this is taking place in, and why this girl is so important.

  3. #3
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    I think the story could be very interesting, but that blurb is not selling it for me in the slightest. Look at the important words you're using: Old, weary, peace, rest, final resting place...The imagery conjured up is of an old folk's home and a very uneventful book.

    Not saying you have to go all "ZAP POW SEXY!" but I'm pretty sure you'd only find a very niche audience with that description.


    Phew - Bet you noticed that! I'm doing that for my blurb.

  4. #4
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Princeroth View Post

    Godhart Leland is dying. Old, weary, and afflicted by illness he wants to live out the final years of his life in peace, but it is not an age which lets old men rest. Charged with the protection of a young girl labeled an abomination by her people, the alien Soldii, and given the mantle of leadership of the church of Alleman, Godhart travels north on a sacred pilgrimage to find his final resting place.
    This reads like a synopsis rather than an attempt at selling to me. Mind if I give it a wing?

    All Godhart Leland wanted was a respectable place to die. His was a simple enough quest until he is saddled with an alien girl considered an abomination among her own kind. Caught up in a conflict not of his choosing, drug into leading a church he didn't believe in, Godhart's final days are neither what he envisioned nor what two worlds had planned for.
    Even still, I agree that we need to know more about what hangs in the balance (I could only guess and infer here). In any case, my intent is to show the difference between saying it and selling it.

    Kerry

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by zachariah View Post
    I think the story could be very interesting, but that blurb is not selling it for me in the slightest. Look at the important words you're using: Old, weary, peace, rest, final resting place...The imagery conjured up is of an old folk's home and a very uneventful book.

    Not saying you have to go all "ZAP POW SEXY!" but I'm pretty sure you'd only find a very niche audience with that description.


    Phew - Bet you noticed that! I'm doing that for my blurb.
    You would sell me right on the premise of some 80+ main character.

    If I would get a dollar for every healthy 20-30 year old straight male/female main character...


    So I disagree. Don't sell a book on something that it isn't. If the main character is very old, be honest about that. If you try to reel in people with a different hook you are only going to see them put the book down when your promise proves hollow.

    I wouldn't be put off in the least. I think an old main character provides a unique approach and already opens a lot of interesting questions. How would an old man manage such a physically demanding journey?

    It already seems like a much grander adventure because the journey is much harder on the main char.

  6. #6
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    I'd be glad to read a story with an 'old' MC (I loved Cohen the Barbarian). And I'm sure this is an eventful, action-packed story just like it should be. But the wording lulled me to sleep with its vocabulary of repose.

    Kerry - 'drug'? Uuuurgh not even acceptable as an Americanism (unless you're going for dialect dialogue). Dragged!

  7. #7
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zachariah View Post
    Kerry - 'drug'? Uuuurgh not even acceptable as an Americanism (unless you're going for dialect dialogue). Dragged!
    Very acceptable as dialogue, which was the slant, however I bet my editor would've brought up the same point (grin).

    Who'd a thunk?

    Kerry

  8. #8
    Thanks for the feedback. Let me try again.

    Outcast

    The Deutz Empire is beset on all sides. From the north barbarians rally to war, along the western sea the alien Lunaii raid the coast for slaves, in the south the enigmatic Soldii isolate themselves, and in the eastern mountains ancient creatures lay dormant. The capital Altstadt is on the brink of civil war as the treasury dwindles. Suspecting treason from the wealthy cults the Emperor orders a purge and sacking. Amidst the turmoil Godhart Leland, a templar of Alleman, is called to the patriarch and is presented with a girl who is labeled an abomination by the Soldii. Tasked with her safekeeping and with the title of successor to the cult of Alleman, Godhart is sent north with the most accomplished templars and the last relics of the cult.

  9. #9
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Still too much scope for me and not enough taste of the personal drama or story. Reads like a synopsis. In your shoes I would center on your main character and not the world setting. I want the central conflict he must face as a person. If you can't find any character growth or challenge, if this story has about as much progression as a Warcraft quest line, then you might have deeper issues.

    For me, stories like this revolve around characters, not circumstances. Also, you need to jazz this up. Portray the drama in your synopsis. Use phrases meant to catch and excite.

    Kerry

  10. #10
    hack-wit Aether Monkey's Avatar
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    On narrative captivation:

    Captitvation, as defined by transport theory (J. Gerrig, I think), suggests that the initial grab of a reader happens in three, sequential steps:
    1. Attention
    2. Emotion
    3. Construction


    To summarize: Slap them in the face (get their attention), stab them in the heart (make them feel an emotion), then whack them in the head (make them imagine imagery).

    It's not a perfect rule, but it can be helpful in thinking about how to write a catchy blurb.

  11. #11
    Fictional Mountain Man
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    Your second one grabbed me more than the first. I thought the first half was really good with the whole four points of the compass thing but one you got to the character part it sort of lost me. If you follow the whole slap em in the face idea then I'd say something like Godfrey is dying or wants to die or whatever, then a poor girl is this and that and she'll probably die, then there is conflict in every direction so everyone will probably die. People like impending doom. Also start out with "In a world..." all the best stuff starts that way.

  12. #12
    New stuff.

    Outcast

    Book 1 of The Exiled Triumvirate


    Three children born,
    To a world that does not want them,
    Three relics torn,
    From the gods that cannot find them,
    Three sages sworn,
    To guide and in the chaos bind them.

    When the Kingdom of Euraxis threatened to enslave the world, the old gods gifted three relics to tribes of Erd to restore the balance of power. Bound by oath the tribes promised to return the relics after they had destroyed the armies of Euraxis, but corrupted by power and greed the tribes of Erd broke their oath and turned on each other. In the chaos of war the relics were lost and a fragile peace ensued… until now.

    Five millennia later the Kingdom of Euraxis has risen again. The people of Erd have forgotten the old gods and worship a new magic called science. The relics, all but forgotten, lay dormant waiting to be found and by chance, make their way into the hands of three young children. With the world of Erd on the brink of war, the children begin their own journeys to fulfill the oath of their ancestors.

  13. #13
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Still not effective for me as an attention grabber. Again, I would concentrate on a character, not a story setting. Here, you immediately go for telling over showing, and most folks don't want to be sat on a stool and get narrated to. They want to experience it.

    Kerry

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by kmtolan View Post
    Still not effective for me as an attention grabber. Again, I would concentrate on a character, not a story setting. Here, you immediately go for telling over showing, and most folks don't want to be sat on a stool and get narrated to. They want to experience it.

    Kerry
    *shakes fist*

    I'll be back.


    Could you give me an example of a fantasy blurb you find very effective?

  15. #15
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Princeroth View Post
    *shakes fist*

    I'll be back.


    Could you give me an example of a fantasy blurb you find very effective?
    Already did earlier, bad English and all. Keep in mind this is but one writer's opinion.

    Kerry

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