A couple of years ago I was working on a creative non-fiction manuscript. Think, ‘ memoir-lite’. In my mind, the story had a strong dark humour element. On the page, though, it was earnest, with a capital “Blah.” To help me stay focussed on the tone I was aiming for, I pre-emptively wrote a series of book reviews for the (still) unfinished manuscript. I posted the page of reviews to my wall and found that they helped me stay true to my voice with the book I ultimately did finish and publish, Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers, which is 100% fiction.
Whether you’re struggling like I was or not, this is a fun and useful prompt to help rev up your confidence as well as remember your voice and keep your storyline in-line with your writing goal.
- Find four or five titles that match the genre and tone of book you’re writing
- Read the front matter where top review snippets are showcased
- Write down the reviews that you would love to one day have written about your book
- Replace the author’s name with yours, the book title with your own, and specific story qualities as necessary
Here are some examples from my own ‘Dream Review’ tear sheet:
“I’m Not the New Me is the hilarious, painfully honest, totally compelling, (surprisingly) suspenseful, and strangely comforting story of a girl trying to lose a few pounds and not disappear in the process.”
“The Reluctant Atheist is the hilarious, painfully honest, totally compelling, (surprisingly) suspenseful, and strangely comforting story of a woman trying to find her soul but not give up her beliefs in the process.”
And following the same approach…
“Both inspirational and forgiving. Barker’s memoir makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy.” (Adapted from a review for The Happiness Project)
“If a more likeable writer than Barker is currently in print, I haven’t found him or her…Barker’s prose is fuelled by a mix of intelligence, wit, and a colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible” (Adapted from a review for Eat, Pray, Love)
“Hilarious, enlightened and inviting, this feisty memoir made me instantly want to befriend Barker just to keep listening to her smart take on everything from feminism to family therapy.” (Adapted from a review for Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress)
“Barker writes in a furiously funny voice, even when she writes about awful events.” (Adapted from a review for Expecting Adam)