Razor Mountain Development Journal #38

This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.

Last Time

Last week I revisited my old journals, scrounging for ideas that got lost along the way. I started looking into all the miscellaneous tasks that need to be done before I actually post chapters.

The Razor Mountain Book Description

One of those miscellaneous tasks is the back-cover blurb for Razor Mountain. Earlier this week, I posted what I’ve learned about writing book blurbs, and now, I need to put those lessons into practice.

I’m starting at a bit of a disadvantage with Razor Mountain. The whole goal of the project is to publish serially, putting out chapters as I write them. I’d prefer to have a finished, polished manuscript before I tackle the description, so I’m dealing with known quantities. That’s not an option for Razor Mountain, so I have to write my book description based upon my outline and plans.

In my previous post, I suggested three main things that tend to be important in a book blurb: hooks, characters and plot/conflict. The Novel Smithy’s excellent article on the subject tries to break it down further into the following categories:

  • Tagline
  • Character
  • Plot
  • Twist
  • Threat
  • Pitch

You see all of these things in book blurbs, but I would argue that you rarely see all of them at once. Still, I like this as a little more detailed list to brainstorm with.

Brainstorming

I started by just throwing out some phrases, trying to fulfill these different categories. I didn’t worry too much about awkward wording or cliché at this point. It’s just to get ideas flowing. (Besides, I’ve seen plenty of great best-selling books with prominent clichés in the blurb. Sometimes cliché sells.)

As brainstorming often goes, I started out pretty much hating everything I wrote. But after a while I found a few turns of phrase that I liked better, and built on those. Here’s a sampling.

Opening Hook

  • A plane crash. A mysterious bunker in the Alaskan wilderness. One man’s struggle to survive.
  • The shattered peak of Razor Mountain casts a long shadow over the Alaskan wilderness, and an even longer shadow across the centuries of human civilization.
  • The shattered peak of Razor Mountain casts a long shadow over the Alaskan wilderness, and across centuries of human civilization.
  • Strange technology. A hidden, militarized city. The secret to immortality. Welcome to Razor Mountain.
  • Dark secrets lie in wait, deep below the shattered peak of Razor Mountain.
  • For thousands of years, secrets seethed under the shattered peak of Razor Mountain. Soon, they’ll boil over.

Character

  • Christopher Lamarck thought moving from a desk job to making sales in rural Alaska brought more than enough excitement into his quiet life.
  • To say that Christopher Lamarck is risk-averse would be an understatement. Whenever he has a choice, he takes the path of least resistance.
  • To say that Christopher Lamarck is risk-averse would be an understatement. When two roads diverge in a wood, he takes the one more traveled by.
  • Christopher Lamarck is no daredevil. In fact, he thinks road trips and camping out are just a little too stressful to be fun.
  • Christopher Lamarck is no hero. Despite his love of ’90s action movies, he knows he wouldn’t survive through the opening credits.

Plot/Conflict

  • First, he inexplicably survives a plane crash. Then he finds strange, abandoned structures hidden in the forest. But it’s not until he’s lost in blizzard conditions and someone starts shooting that he realizes how precarious his situation really is.
  • First, he inexplicably survives a plane crash. Then he finds strange, abandoned structures hidden in the forest. But it’s not until he gets lost in a blizzard and shot at that he realizes how precarious his situation really is.
  • When Christopher’s puddle-jumper crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, he finds himself in the shocking predicament of actually surviving. However, it soon becomes apparent that nobody is coming to rescue him. If he wants to make it back home, he’s going to have to start emulating his movie heroes.

Twist/Second Hook

  • There’s something worryingly familiar about this place and these people.
  • He can’t help but think that he’s been here before.
  • As it turns out, the empty wilderness isn’t so empty, and the locals shoot strangers on sight.

Threat/Consequence/Conflict

  • Death may not be the worst consequence.
  • There are some fates worse than death.

Pitch/Genre Keywords

  • Sci-fi, thriller, suspense, alternate history…
  • A suspense-filled science fiction labyrinth that will keep you guessing until the end.
  • A thrilling sci-fi mystery, full of twists and turns.

Putting it Together

With this collection of sentences and phrases of varying quality, I tried putting together a blurb.

Christopher Lamarck thought moving from a desk job to making sales in rural Alaska would bring some excitement into his quiet life. But he gets more excitement than he bargained for when his plane goes down deep in the mountains.

Surviving a plane crash is only the start of his problems. He finds strange structures and advanced technology hidden on the forested slopes, and the secret society that built it is still looking down from the shattered peak of Razor Mountain. Yet Christopher is drawn inexorably into their machinations, and he begins to realize there’s something worryingly familiar about this place and these people.

A tale of life and death, obsession and control, and a conspiracy as old as human civilization, Razor Mountain is a thrilling sci-fi mystery, full of twists and turns.

I’ve been toying with the idea that Christopher loves action movies, which is fun for a character who is nowhere near action hero material. It gives me the opportunity to contrast him with these heroes and introduces some comic relief potential.

Including it in the blurb gives us a little more insight into the character, and I think this description flows a little better. I’m also trying the “In a world…”-style sentence fragments hook.

Strange technology. A hidden, militarized city. The secret to immortality. Welcome to Razor Mountain.

Christopher Lamarck is no hero. Despite his love of ’90s action movies, he knows he wouldn’t survive through the opening credits. But when Christopher’s puddle-jumper crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, he finds himself in the shocking predicament of actually surviving.

It soon becomes apparent, however, that nobody is coming to rescue him. The empty wilderness isn’t so empty, and the locals shoot strangers on sight. If he wants to make it back home, he might have to start emulating his movie heroes.

The inescapable gravity of Razor Mountain pulls Christopher deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that spans millennia. With his life in constant danger, he learns that death isn’t the worst fate that could await him under the mountain.

Razor Mountain is a suspense-filled science fiction labyrinth that will keep you guessing until the end.

And then I took the ending hook from the first blurb because I like it better.

Strange technology. A hidden, militarized city. The secret of immortality. Welcome to Razor Mountain.

Christopher Lamarck is no hero. Despite his love of action movies, he knows he wouldn’t survive the opening credits. But when Christopher’s puddle-jumper crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, he finds himself in the shocking predicament of actually surviving.

It soon becomes apparent, however, that nobody is coming to rescue him. The empty wilderness isn’t so empty, and the locals shoot strangers on sight. If he wants to make it back home, he might have to start emulating his movie heroes.

The inescapable gravity of Razor Mountain pulls Christopher toward the shattered peak, and he finds himself intwined in intrigues that span millennia. With his life in constant danger, he learns that death isn’t the worst fate that could await him under the mountain.

A tale of life and death, obsession and control, and a conspiracy as old as human civilization, Razor Mountain is a thrilling sci-fi mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

What’s Missing and What’s Next

A book blurb is short. It will inevitably leave many things out. In this case, the most glaring omission is God-Speaker. However, Christopher’s story is ultimately God-Speaker’s story, and I think focusing my description on Christopher is a good limitation.

My next step is feedback. The blurb is an advertisement for the book. It’s only good if it helps to get people interested. If you like it or hate it, or even if you don’t care, feel free to let me know in the comments. I’ll probably continue tweaking this description up until I launch — and then reevaluate it again when I’m part way through the book and have a better understanding of what I’m writing.

Results

I created a book description for Razor Mountain.

One thought on “Razor Mountain Development Journal #38

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