Blurb Coaching – A Face on Cydonia

I wanted to share another blurb coaching with all of you, done for a Writer’s Path Writers Club. Enjoy!

Name: Ian Miller

Genre: Science Fiction

Title: A Face on Cydonia

Original Blurb: Schools in the early 22nd century teach that the big corporations
provide all necessary services solely for the betterment of society, under the
benevolent guidance of the Federation Council. When Fiona Bolton, an expert in
sonic viewing, watches her husband being murdered while uncovering corporate
malfeasance, she wants justice. Instead, she is dragged into the tar-baby of the
dark side of corporate behaviour. Jonathon Munro so wants to be important in a
corporation, but his only talent seems to lie within that dark side. Sharon
Galloway has developed the most advanced excavating device known, and she
hates and despises Jonathon Munro. Then when Grigori Timoshenko decides to
form an expedition to settle for once and for all whether the morphing image of a
battered butte in the Cydonian Mensae region of Mars was due to alien activity,
these three must be included in the party. With hidden agendas and attempts at
murder on a planet with no air, the gloss of visiting another planet soon wears
thin.

A story of corruption, disdain for both law and morals, the maverick, and the
nature of Mars, A Face on Cydonia gives action and realistic science aplenty. It is
the first in the trilogy First Contact, in which, like in a Greek tragedy, all members
of the party rise beyond their comfort zone, then will fail in some respect due to
failings of their character

Blurb with Coaching Comments in brackets and bold:

Schools [Unless this story centers on the
school system or school-aged characters, you might not want to start with
“schools,” as it creates instant reader expectations.] in the early 22nd century [As
this is science fiction, I think readers will want to know exactly what year it is, not
a general “early in the 22nd century.” It gives them a specific “This is how soon
we can expect this” date.”] teach that the big corporations provide all necessary
services solely for the betterment of society, under the benevolent guidance of
the Federation Council. When Fiona Bolton, an expert in sonic viewing, [I’m not
sure what this is, though it does make it clear this is science fiction.] watches her
husband being murdered while uncovering corporate malfeasance, [The word
“watches” here implies that she watches him die even as he’s in the actual act of
“uncovering corporate malfeasance.” If this isn’t the case, you’ll want to reword
this to something like “When Fiona Bolton’s husband is murdered while
uncovering corporate malfeasance…”] she wants justice. [Overall, I think this first
sentence is one of your strongest, so I’d move it to the beginning of the blurb and
explain the complications to her getting justice in the second sentence. “But this

is year ___, when corporations are renowned for their benevolence, providing all
necessary services solely for…”]

Instead, she is dragged into the tar-baby of the dark side of corporate behaviour. [This is a very interesting sentence. “Tar-baby” is more from folk-lore than science fiction, and how is she dragged into “the dark side”? Are you suggesting she gets lured into it somehow, or is she forced to explore the dark side of corporations in her quest for her husband’s murderer?]

Jonathon Munro so wants to be important in a corporation, but his only talent
seems to lie within that dark side. [This seems a bit vague. What exactly is it he
does that is dark? Blackmail? Embezzlement? Murder? And if he’s a major
character, he should get his own paragraph in the blurb, along with each of the
others (Sharon and Grigori).] Sharon Galloway has developed the most advanced
excavating device known, and she hates and despises Jonathon Munro. Then
when Grigori Timoshenko decides to form an expedition to settle for once and for
all whether the morphing image of a battered butte in the Cydonian Mensae
region of Mars was due to alien activity, these three must be included in the party.
[So Grigori, Sharon, and Galloway must be included? I’m confused what this has
to do with Fiona. Was her husband killed on Mars? Or why would she leave her
planet as part of her investigation of her husband’s murder?]

With hidden agendas and attempts at murder on a planet with no air, the gloss of visiting
another planet soon wears thin. [I like this sentence. It sets the mood for the story
effectively, and it’s very well worded.] A story of corruption, disdain for both law and morals, [I like these components. They help set up the theme for the story without trying to explain everything.] the maverick, and the nature of Mars, [I don’t know that you need “the maverick and the nature of Mars” listed here, as it’s clear from your previous sentences that the story will have both.] A Face on Cydonia gives action and realistic science aplenty. [You’ve also mentioned a murder. Will that mystery be solved, or does the story not have that much to do with murder and justice but more with revenge?]

It is the first in the trilogy First Contact, [This is good to include, as readers like to know they’re getting into a series.] in which, like in a Greek tragedy, all members of the party rise beyond their comfort zone, then will fail in some respect due to failings of their character. [I’m not sure why you mention a Greek tragedy here. For one thing, it suggests that this story has an unhappy ending, which would spoil the story. And I’m not sure that readers will understand the reference, as
Greek tragedy and science fiction aren’t always read by the same people. You
might want to suggest the course of the story in a more vague manner, hinting at
how they have to work together to survive, or how they must rely on their own
wits and abilities in an “every person for themselves” sort of story, explaining how
these various character interact and inter-relate to each other beyond “just being
on the same mission.”]

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