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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, August 9, 2006 2:41 pm
Review Templates
Posted by: Keir Graff

Something I’d meant to add yesterday was that, even though every book is different, the similarities in the way I frame some of the reviews can almost make it feel like I’ve unconsciously created templates for them. There’s the First-Novelist-Shows-Promise template and its twin, Promising-Novelist-Can’t-Deliver-in-Sophomore-Effort. There’s also Usually-Good-Novelist-Isn’t-Quite-So-Good-This-Time. Then there’s Great-Novelist-Is-Great-Once-Again-Making-Us-All-Feel-Somewhat-Inferior.

Then there’s I-Don’t-Understand-What-the-Author-Is-Trying-to-Say, and its opposite, I-Understand-What-He’s-Trying-to-Say-But-It’s-Not-Worth-Saying. Also Too-Many-Stories-Going-On and Not-Enough-Stories-to-Hold-Our-Interest.

There’s Some-People-Are-Bound-to-Like-This-But-I-Didn’t and I-Don’t-Care-What-Anyone-Thinks-This-Is-a-Masterpiece.

A few others:

  • He/She-Isn’t-As-Good-As-His/Her-Spouse/Mother/Father
  • Clearly-an-Attempt-to-Cash-in-on-Harry Potter/The Da Vinci Code
  • Clearly-an-Attempt-to-Cash-in-on-Harry Potter/The Da Vinci Code-but-Still-Worthwhile
  • I’m-Sorry-but-I-Just-Can’t-Get-All-That-Interested-in-Novels-about-Novel-Writing
  • They-Sure-Don’t-Write-Them-Like-This-Anymore
  • They-Don’t-Write-Them-Like-This-Anymore-For-Good-Reason
  • You’re-Too-Young-to-Write-a-Memoir
  • You’ve-Written-Three-Memoirs-Why-Not-Try-a-Novel?

I’m sure there must be others. Note that I haven’t actually used all of these, but it never hurts to plan ahead.

4 Responses to “Review Templates”
  1. Bill Says:

    Let’s not forget the most familiar (and most difficult to make interesting) template of all: the this-is-an-ordinary-book-by-an-ordinary-writer-about-an-ordinary-subject-that-will be enjoyed-by-ordinary-readers-in-ordinary-numbers review.

  2. Keir Says:

    Can I borrow that template? I get kind of stuck on those….

  3. Brad Hooper Says:

    Hello, Keir, your editor is in the room.

  4. Keir Says:

    I promise to make it my own. I’ll change every tenth word, whether it needs changing or not.


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