I think I can finish the first draft of Wyetgerd's Ax in a week's time. I'll need a couple big days to do that, and I'll need to stay up late too, but it's doable. These are first world problems, after all.
I've talked a lot about Wyetgerd's Ax on this blog without sharing any details. So I thought I'd drop the blurb here. But before I do that, allow me to talk about blurbing.
I used to write the blurb at the end of the process, after I'd written the book. I found it (and still do) incredibly difficult to distill a 100k word manuscript into an exciting 250 word book description that is supposed to entice readers. Inevitably, the inner dialog while trying to create a blurb went like this:
I need to introduce the hero and all the major characters, and oh yeah, I need a reader to understand the world too ... oh, and what about the royal hierarchy and nobility and their religions ... oh wait, magic is important too ... and oh shit, this guy shows up halfway through but he's really instrumental in ... and oh yeah! There's going to be a sequel so I better set this up too--
As you can surmise, my blurbs tended to be bloated and unintriguing precisely because I knew too much about the story and what happened before the story and what happened after the story. A blurb is supposed to only reveal the key details, it's supposed to hook fans of the genre, it's supposed to be a little mysterious, and it's supposed to give readers only a general sense of what to expect from the story.
Fortunately, I learned a trick from more experienced authors. Now I write my blurb first, before I even start the book. It's ridiculously easier this way. I even take it to the extreme and write the blurb before the outline.
When I do it this way, I still only have a general sense of the story, which is perfect because I can only think in terms of the bigger plot and character arcs. Good guy, something big happens, bad guys, good guys and bad guys will face off. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Once I do finish the story, I usually have to tweak the blurb but I'm always surprised by how little it has to change. I might have to emphasize THIS instead of THAT, or perhaps MAJOR DEVELOPMENT fell by the wayside and SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENED INSTEAD. That's okay. It's always easier to tweak an existing blurb that's 80% on point than summarize this monstrous book in a few words.
Anyway, here's the blurb I wrote for Wyetgerd's Ax before I outlined the story ...
After his father dies, Wisag loses his way. Running up gambling debts he cannot repay, killing men in drunken tavern fights, Wisag, once a young man so full of promise, now wanders the country under an assumed name, desperate to stay one step ahead of those he’s wronged.
One night, while sharing a drink with a childhood friend in a tavern, an old, battle-scarred soldier mocks Wisag. Brooking no insults, Wisag challenges the other to a fight. But the man he challenges isn’t just some old soldier. He’s a legend. And, when challenged, this old warrior only fights to the death.
When Wisag wakes the next morning, his whole life has changed. For now he carries Wyetgerd’s Ax.
Soon everyone looks to Wisag, either with a challenge, or a request for help. Wisag never wanted to be a hero. He was happy to live a life of no consequence, drinking, gambling, and whoring his way to an early death, but now a new path has opened to him.
The path of Wyetgerd.
And Wisag will be tested sooner than he thinks. When he sets out on a simple rescue mission to pay off a debt, Wisag finds himself immersed in a much larger conflict, one that reaches from the Thultac Mountains in the west to the warm climes of the far south, where the King sits his throne uneasily.
As he walks his new path, the legendary warrior Skodan will go with him, showing him the ways of Wyetgard. And Wisag will learn the hardest lesson of all: evil will triumph if the good do nothing.
Wisag gained fame by killing a legend. He will become a legend by defying a king.
Wyetgerd’s Ax is epic heroic fantasy at its best. From Brian O’Rourke, author of The Bastard’s Refuge.