Writing Tip: How to Create Three-dimensional Characters

Research is an integral part of writing. When you sit down to write a novel, or write your memoirs, you need to do a little homework. Of course, you must know about the environment and subject matters discussed in your book, but you also need to research the people involved to create three-dimensional characters. Yes, even if the book is fiction, you still must know each person before you can really write about them. You have to work out who each character will become.

Keep it real

When you are first getting to know someone in life, you sometimes see them in a certain light, one that is a tad rosy. They can appear to be almost perfect in their behavior. They might not show anger or any other negative emotions, because they aren’t comfortable enough to let you know they have a few flaws. They use their best manners around you.

However, if you continue to develop a relationship with them, you’ll start to see a few faults peek out. Buttons pop up. Stephen might be super polite, but when faced with any sort of emergency he falls apart. Georgia might never swear, but when she finds a cockroach in her food, she will curse like a sailor.

You must write as if you’ve known the people in your book for years. That’s truly how they become three-dimensional characters. No one enjoys reading about flat, boring characters. They expect you to write realistically, as if the person really exists in our world. Bad guys aren’t always bad, and good guys aren’t ever saints. People have a lot of gray areas. Give them balance.

Communicate with dialogue

When you read great dialogue, you can almost hear the characters speaking, can’t you? It’s like you’re a fly on the wall, listening in. It’s easy to lose yourself in the story when the words just flow. I love dialogue-driven books.

If you think about it, people tend to speak in a certain way. They have expressions that are unique to them. Some writers refer to them as “verbal tics.” I love creating these for my characters because it’s an excellent way to reveal some aspect of their personalities .

In life, sometimes when two people get together, their exchange can take on a life of its own. Someone on the outside might have trouble translating all the idioms, all the inside jokes, the two friends have created together over the years.

As a writer, it’s your job to create that realistic dialogue between close friends, without losing your readers. They have to be in on the inside jokes and understand your characters well enough to get the snippets of dialogue you provide. Sometimes you’ll need to use slang terms from another country (or from another world if you’re creating a science fiction novel). Those phrases can absolutely help the reader get immersed in your book’s universe.

One of the best examples of this was when Battlestar Galactica used “frak” to communicate a popular swear word. It’s brilliant, because we all understood what they meant, but it helped the viewers know they weren’t in Kansas anymore (not even close). The writers introduced us to a new word that has become popular today.

Draw from life

As you live your life, look around and notice how people behave. Take notes. I mean, literally take notes! Actually carry a notepad (or use an app on your phone) and jot down observations. It’s fascinating how people will put together a phrase or what they do when they think no one is looking.

Also, note how people interact, especially when they know each other well. Often, they will shorten phrases that everyone knows. “I guess I could do that” becomes, “I guess.” Or “Would you like to come with us?” turns into, “Wanna come?” The average person usually doesn’t speak the Queen’s English, so your characters should avoid intense formality, too.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of silent communications as well. “Please pass the salt” is sometimes replaced with a nod of a head toward the saltshaker. And a raise of an eyebrow can speak volumes. Your book’s characters will need to use these in order to appeal to readers. Use the observations you make of the world around you to give your characters more dimension.

Creating characters is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for me. It is a bit like getting to know a group of cool people, except you are the one who will give them form and life. I really encourage you to take your time and relish the experience.

If you need help creating three-dimensional characters, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help!

Completing a book: The Time, the Space, and the Goal

It seems to me that most people have no shortage of ideas for a new book. So many men and women really are artists at heart; I admire that so much. However, when it comes to completing a project, people can have difficulty. Throughout the years, I’ve noticed that most authors can start a project, but many have trouble completing a book.

If you were to sneak a peek at the average laptop, I’d bet you’d find books in various stages of development. You might discover a completed outline for a business book, but no first draft. Or you could uncover fifty pages of a sci-fi novel dated over a year ago. Maybe you’d see detailed notes of various interviews of family members, but no memoir begun. If you’re anything like me, you’d like to encourage these authors to continue.

So, why do writers tend to push off working on their great ideas? The solution could be as simple as getting in these three main components:

  • Time
  • Space
  • Goal

Carve out the time

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If you’re new to writing and it’s a hobby, I suggest that you establish a regular time to write, so you can go about completing a book. Even if you hire me as a ghostwriter, you will need to set aside this time to help me gather notes or review pages that I’ve written for you.

Find a time of day when you know you won’t be disturbed. You might like to get up a little early each day and write as the sun comes up, while enjoying a good cup of coffee. That’s my favorite time. Or you might set aside time at night, when the kids are asleep (before your eyes droop). That’s a good time to tap away on your keyboard with a nice cup of Chamomile tea.

Either way, make sure to write something, anything, every single day.

TIP: If you skip a day, don’t beat yourself up and stop. Just start again the next day. The most important thing is to continue writing.

Find a good space

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Unless you’re one of the few people who thrives on chaos, you’ll want to have a dedicated writing nook. Somewhere around your home, where you can’t be disturbed, would be most convenient. If you can swing it, select a room with a door. Some people hang a sign out letting others know that they shouldn’t be disturbed.

I know a few writers who head for their library or Starbucks to get some peace and quiet. Others opt for the great outdoors, and they don’t even mind the occasional visits from beetles and spiders. It really doesn’t matter where you set up, as long as you can write without distraction.

TIP: Try out a few places and see which one works best for you.

Set doable goals

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Finally, it is important to set regular goals for yourself. Professional writers always think in terms of words, not pages, because pages can be misleading. They’re too dependent on the font you use. Now, if you’re in research mode, time is really the only realistic yardstick.

It’s hard for me to give examples here, because the word-count target will really vary from project to project. Sometimes I can write ten thousand words per week, but that’s because I’ve done months of research (or I know the topic very well). Other times I’m happy to get two thousand words done by Friday.

Whatever your goal, set it ahead of time, and then do your best to reach it. The ultimate target is completing a book.

TIP: If you find you want to take a lot of breaks, that usually signals a problem. Maybe you don’t know which way to go in the story or you need to do more research. I have found that operating off a good, solid outline helps, because it keeps me on track.

Now that you know the three main components, you can set aside the time, find the right place, and reach the writing session goal you set each day. One of your first goals should be a finished first draft. Remember, it can be revised at a later date, so don’t worry about perfection.  It takes hard work to write your book, but the rewards are well worth it.

If you wish to hire a ghostwriter, email me. Let me know your budget, your deadline and your goal for the project. I’m here to help!

Who Would Hire Ghostwriters?

Some people think that only celebrities and political icons hire ghostwriters. That just isn’t true. We are actually contracted by many different kinds of authors. My clients have held various professions, and each person has their own goal. Having written nearly three dozen books for a variety of authors, I can tell you that no two are alike. So, who hires a ghostwriter? Well, I’ve found they usually fit into one of five categories.

Business people hire ghostwriters

Entrepreneurs and industry leaders often hire ghostwriters to establish that they are the expert in their field. In addition, they often wish to author a book in order to strengthen their brand. It boosts their credibility to a new level. A book with their name on the cover will get them noticed, and it will help them expand their business.

Interestingly enough, selling their book is only one profit center for a business owner. I’ve found that most entrepreneurs write books in order to expand their clientele. For some, one new client means thousands in profit, so ten new clients can recoup the cost of their ghostwriter.

After talking to many busy executives and entrepreneurs, I’ve learned they usually don’t have the time to sit and write a book without a score of interruptions. Also, the average business owner is usually unfamiliar with the book writing process; it takes years of practice to hone that skill. Most don’t have the time to develop that expertise.

Someone with a niche market

If someone has a particular expertise, they might hire me to write a thorough how-to book, so that they can help others flourish in that field. Someone who started in poverty, who now owns a half dozen thriving businesses and is worth tens of millions of dollars should really tell her story, so that others might follow in her footsteps.

Or, if someone has a particular ability or skill set, he really should share that information with others. Maybe you’ve learned a new approach to gardening or have discovered new photography techniques. It would be a shame if that information were to be lost forever. I enjoy helping clients share details on how to start a variety of businesses.

Family historians hire ghostwriters

Most families have at least one person who is in charge of the collective memories of the family. They are the one you can go to when you’re trying to sort out the family tree. They are the person who remembers all the details of the stories that are told from generation to generation.

Family historians often come to me when they wish to preserve their family history on a permanent basis. Some choose to share these events with the world, while others simply want to let their grandchildren know how life was back in their day. I love to help families preserve their unique stories.

Fiction writers

I think this category surprises people the most. “You mean people hire you to write novels?” Why, yes, they do! Sci-fi, drama, fantasy, young adult, etc. See, a lot of people have a nugget of an idea and need help fleshing out the story. Some clients approach me with a rough outline and the biographies of a few characters worked out, but don’t know how to tie everything together. A few clients have a hundred pages written, but the story doesn’t seem to flow from one scene to the next. They are detailed notes rather than a manuscript. Whatever the issue, I can help sort it out.

Memoirs authors

The most common request I receive as a ghostwriter is to write a person’s life story. Clients wish to share their memories in a riveting, engaging way. I must say, I love writing a memoir, as it often has the qualities of multiple genres. A memoir is most like a novel, in that follows all the same rules (you must develop your characters, create entertaining and realistic dialogue, etc.). It also often features a businessperson’s successful actions, sharing their niche market advice. And many memoirs succeed in preserving the family memories.

Some memoirs are fictionalized for a variety of reasons. However, most stick with the factual events and just include some embellishments. Either way, it’s my job to make the story a thrilling read, capturing the readers’ attention from the get-go.

Many different kinds of people hire me to write books for them. I’ve worked with retired people, business icons, medical professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and many others. They all want to either tell their story or share their expertise. It is my honor to assist them.

If you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter, please contact me. Check out the fee on my pricing page, so we can make sure that you and I are indeed on the same page.

Your Memoir: Building Character and Your Written Voice

When I begin working with you as a client, one of my first priorities will be to develop your written voice early on. It’s important to know that the voice you select will need to be consistent throughout every single piece of published writing. In other words, your first book needs to match your second, which also needs to match your blog and any guest posts.

Finding your inner voice

While your written voice will be different from your spoken one, there is definitely a lot of overlap. Your written voice could be better dubbed your inner voice. Like a fingerprint, yours will be different from others.

For starters, you might have unique ways of speaking that can help to identify your voice. As we work together, I’ll be hunting for these clues. It’s my job to select a few of these characteristics and sprinkle them throughout your book. Having said that, I’ll always protect your reputation and brand; I won’t include anything you’d prefer left off the page. And we’ll leave the “ums” and “ers” out, of course.

You’re such a character

It might surprise you to learn that you’ll become the central character of your memoir. That means you and I will need to follow the rules of writing and apply them to each person that we write about in your story. Sure, you are you, but in your book, your character will take on a life of its own.

As I perfect your voice, I will also be working on the voices of all the other main dramatis personae of your book (aka your friends, family, colleagues, etc.). It will help me if you can jot down some sample conversations you’ve had with others. Let me see how you interact with the people in your life.

Keep in mind that we will need to create plausible dialogue and embellish things a bit. Don’t worry, your readers don’t expect you to recall exactly what you said ten years ago. Instead, they want a good story. For that reason, they will give you a little creative license.

Mind your mannerisms

We all have them. Do you twirl your hair around your pencil or stroke an imaginary beard? Maybe you slap your hands against your thighs for emphasis when you speak. Including these little habits in your memoir helps lend authenticity to your character. If you have trouble spotting them, ask friends and family for their observations. Then notice their traits.

In addition, it’s good to examine the way the important people around you look at the world, how they communicate to others without words, their general mood, and anything else that makes them unique. Sharing these allows me to enrich their characters within your book.

When I’m working on a story (fiction or nonfiction), I create complete bios for the main characters. I’ll need your help to create these for your memoir. For instance, it really helps to know the month and year in which all the main players were born. This helps me track with their ages throughout the story.

It also helps to know eye color, height, weight, hair style, etc. so I don’t give your husband a buzz cut when he has a ponytail or man bun. How do they dress? Are they always in a tie and consider a polo shirt casual dress? Or perhaps that polo shirt is the only formal item in their closet.

If you’re considering hiring a ghostwriter for your memoir, and want to take a preliminary step, start building character profiles for yourself and everyone who will appear in your book. It will be such an asset to me (or whomever you hire). When we start working together, I can give you more complete instructions for helping me collect all this information, and more. Just contact me to get started!

Ask a Ghostwriter: Please Write a Book about My Life

i want someone to write a book about my life

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I want someone to write a book about my life. I’ve experienced so much, and I feel others could benefit from reading my story. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I’ve come through and have a good life now. People are always telling me that I should write a book, so I’m reaching out to you. I don’t have the time and frankly, don’t have the experience needed. I need help! – R.W.

R.W. I’ll tell you, each week, I get at least three letters that paraphrase this sentiment. There are variations to this request, but the plea is basically the same. Help, help, I want someone to write my book!

I hear you!

I’m here to help.

I can’t always respond to everyone who writes, but here are a few ways you can be sure to catch my attention.

Have an uplifting angle

Trust me, no one wants to read a book about how horrible a life has been. While the story could be completely true, it will make reader feel awful (and sometimes squeamish). In addition, there will be no progression of the characters, which makes the book flat and boring.

Personally, I will only write meaningful stories, with good, uplifting endings. There is plenty of bad news in the world; I don’t need to add to it. It’s very rewarding for me when a reader walks away from reading a book I wrote with a new positive outlook and fresh approach to life.

I’ve ghostwritten a few books about the Holocaust, because I feel the survival stories are each important to share. I spoke to a woman the other day, who lives her life every day feeling grateful for being alive. She feels the weight of responsibility to make good decisions that help others. Shouldn’t we all feel that?

Research my website

I love it when authors write me and have done their homework. They have reviewed my website and want to hire me because they like how I write. I’ve written over a hundred blog articles, so if you want to get a feel for my writing style, my website is a great place to start.

I’ve also written over two dozen books, but unfortunately, you can’t read them. That’s because I always sign a confidentiality agreement with each client. After all, when you hire me, you’ll be the author and once we’re done, I’ll just be a ghost.

Still, I have two books that bear my name. Check them out. You don’t have to purchase them but can see a preview on Amazon. Yes, each client has a unique written voice, but it’s always wise to do a little research and become familiar with your ghostwriter’s writing skills.

Know what I charge

Take a moment and review my pricing. If you do, and I’m within your range, let me know. It saves us a lot of time. If you can’t afford me, but have a budget, be upfront about that. I can sometimes help you work something out with another writer.

I charge $50,000 for a 200-page (50,000 word) book. That works out to a dollar per word, so if you have a smaller budget, I can write a shorter book. Mini-eBooks are popular on Amazon, so that’s always an option.

Please understand that no matter how compelling your book is, I am not able to write it for free. It takes hundreds of hours to write a book!

I love working with new authors but am very selective about the books I write and the people I write with. My clients become my partners for the period we work together and most become good friends. It’s a special relationship, one I cherish.

If you’re saying to yourself, “I want someone to write a book about my life” email me and we’ll see what we can do to get started.

Writing a Memoir: Know Your Story

When writing a memoir, it’s important to stick to one subject and one time period, then really focus on that. Know your story! If your book is too general, it won’t make for a good read.

A good friend, who attends many writer’s conferences, teeming with agents and publishers, recently told me, “If a writer goes into a pitch with: ‘Hey, my book is about my life in the field of education,’ the agent is going to glaze over and start thinking about the conference lunch buffet. It’s way too general. No, it’s better to state the book’s focus upfront.”

So true! I would also add that you should know the purpose of your story. After all, that will help you focus and know your story.

Know your story

The first step when writing a memoir is to decide what you’re writing about. In the example above, perhaps you are a high-school teacher in the inner city and you’re writing to encourage parents to be more active with their child’s education. If that’s your purpose, tell that story. It’s specific, not general.

If your own educational path helps to illustrate your book’s purpose, by all means share it. You can do so with flashbacks or by starting the book at that period, if there is enough material to carry the story forward. Otherwise, skip it. For example, if you had supportive parents and went to expensive prep schools and Harvard, it just might not fit into this book (about working with inner city kids).

It would probably make more sense to open your memoir with a particular high school class and finish with their graduation. Include various gnarly parent teacher conference meetings that show what you wish to demonstrate and conclude with a result, one way or another.

Pick a lane and stick to it.

Define your reader

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In the above example, your reader would probably be parents of high school students. Perhaps yours is a cautionary tale, warning parents of the dangers of leaving their children’s education solely in the hands of the school system. If that’s the case your book might span two decades, showing your breadth of experience and many examples of neglect with final resolutions that all exemplify the problem.

Or maybe you want to show how one parent got it right. Perhaps that one child made it out of the ghetto and into the sunlight. In that case, your story might just span one year, showing how that mom and dad took a strong interest in little Johnny’s education, while other parents failed to do so, and their children floundered.

Now, your reader might be the school administrative staff. If that is the case, your book would have a very different feel! Is this a David vs Goliath theme, concluding with your victorious battle to make improvements within the school system? The point might be to help others forge an improvement in a system that can seem impossible to penetrate.

We just discussed three versions of one life story. You see how these three books would be very different. It’s the same life, told through different lenses. Each story would be shared with your voice but would make the reader feel and experience very different things.

Pick your reader and write to them.

If you’re writing a memoir, remember that this is your life! You get to tell the story you wish to tell. You probably have a few books within you. Select one and start writing! And if you need help, please contact me.

If you have any questions regarding pricing, please check out my article about how much ghostwriters charge.

If you’d like to read more articles about memoirs, please check these out:

Memoir or Autobiography

How to Write Your Memoir

What are Good Memoir Themes?

Memoir or Autobiography or Biography?

Many people have something worthwhile to write. Their hard-won life lessons and perseverance can both inspire and instruct others. And let’s face it, their lives just make for an interesting read! If this describes your life, it might be time to consider writing a book to capture your personal story. Should you write a memoir, an autobiography, or a biography?

If you’re reading this and you’ve been fortunate enough (and skilled enough) to have climbed out of a gnarly hole and succeed in life, you really owe it to the world to share your story one way or another. People really need to hear about your journey and understand the steps you took to make it.

How do you tell this story? Well, you have a few choices. There are three basic genres for such a project: biography, autobiography and memoir.

An Autobiography or a Biography

We have all seen the biography or autobiography section in a library. These works are somewhat formal efforts to document the lives of notable people. These books proceed in a linear and orderly fashion through the life of the subject, cataloging their existence for the reader. It’s extremely accurate and factual.

If that description sounds a bit dry, that’s because the end product often is. After all, how many of us relished reading the biography or autobiography of a famous person in school? That’s probably the last one you read, right?

Still, there are times when this medium is correct. When a formal accounting of someone’s life needs to be understood, reach for a biography or autobiography. Get the facts and learn about that person.

A Memoir

A memoir reads more like a novel, written in the first person. It rarely starts with “I was born in New Haven, CT,” but rather sets you at the precipice of a key moment of the author’s life then carries you forward through a segment of the person’s life. You feel the emotions of the author, experience what they experience in a very realistic way.

Memoirs tend to be less formal than an autobiography or biography. Creative license can be exercised with caution. The dialogue you read is never completely accurate but is more of a best guess by the author. The story is still true, but certain elements are often embellished for the sake of the tale.

In addition, a memoir can document a specific event, focusing on the short term, rather than the entire life of the person. For instance, a famous band might focus a memoir around a specific tour or the recording of an album.

A good memoir strives to capture the voice of the author with authenticity. This helps the reader slip into the shoes of the subject, making it easier to live the life they lived for a few hours.

Which Is Best for You?

A person lives one moment after the next, in linear fashion, to be sure, but is that the best way to present the story? Perhaps. And should one include every detail, simply because it happened? Most likely there were a few moments of that life that were crucial, which might illuminate what made that person who they are today. And then there are mundane incidents that no reader needs to hear.

Most often I recommend that my clients write their memoirs rather than their autobiographies. It’s more popular and more riveting for the reader. However, there are times when a biography or autobiography is a better choice. It comes down to preference.

What are your thoughts? Which do you prefer to read?

If you wish to hire a ghostwriter and wonder what the cost might be, please check out my article on the subject.

What To Expect When Hiring A Ghostwriter

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I’ve been ghostwriting for over fifteen years now. I tackle fiction, business books and memoirs and strive to always capture my client’s unique voice with every word. There really isn’t any genre that I can’t write for another author.

Having said that, I’m incredibly picky about the clients and the subject matter I take on. Why? Because I’m tied closely to that person and project for a long while. A book often takes a year to eighteen months to write, and my clients often become fast friends.

Who typically hires a ghostwriter?

When someone reaches out to me asking for help with their book, I can tell that they often have no idea what to expect when hiring a ghostwriter. I understand, as mine isn’t a common vocation. In fact, most people I speak to about my profession seem surprised to learn that people will actually hire someone else to write a book for them (then put their own name on that book). It’s done more often that many seem to realize and is completely ethical.

It’s not just the celebrities and politicians who reach out to hire a ghostwriter these days. Quite a few people hire me to write their life story simply to share their adventure with their descendants. In addition, many professionals seek out a professional writer who can put in the time and energy to put their vision on the page or bring their story to life. After all, it does take hundreds of hours to write a book. How many CEOs, visionaries, and entrepreneurs have that sort of spare time on their hands? And if they do, my bet is that they’d rather devote the weekends and evenings to their families and friends. Maybe travel a bit. Take on a new hobby.

What’s the cost?

No doubt about it, hiring a ghostwriter is an investment. I charge $25,000 per 100 pages. That’s about a dollar per word. While that might seem pricey, some ghostwriters run a quarter of a million dollars or more.

Plan to put 25% down and pay the rest as the book unfolds. Never ask a ghostwriter to accept a deferred payment; they could never run a business that way.

Who gets the credit?

Most often, the ghostwriter never receives any credit. We sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), swearing secrecy for the project. Now and then it might be in the best interests of the author to give the ghostwriter a writing credit (such as a “with” or a “as told to” tag on the cover). And some gracious clients will give a kind acknowledgment in the back of the book, thanking the writer for their assistance. I am always tremendously grateful for such a gift. However, I personally never expect a credit and am happy to remain the invisible ghost for the book.

How does ghostwriting work?

My clients really become new writing partners. Most will provide me with a lot of notes, which will help me form a good outline. Then we’ll chat on the phone until I have all the information I need. Each client is different, because each author has a unique story to tell and everyone has their own style. Some clients require hours of conversation, while others have very cohesive notes right from the start. The process is almost always different with each person.

What is the ghostwriting process?

When you’re hiring a ghostwriter, I’d say that the process can be broken up into three phases:

  1. The Research Phase: It’s hard to write a book without all the information upfront, so I like to dive in and immerse myself in the content before I begin writing. Once I have everything I need, I’ll write up an outline for the client. This will act as our road map for us for the entire process.
  2. The First Draft Phase: Once the outline is approved, I’ll write the first draft. I often send pages as I write the book, getting feedback and approval along the way. Not every ghostwriter works this way, but I find it works well. I wouldn’t want to finish the book only to realize I’d misunderstood a key element.
  3. The Editing Phase: After the first draft is approved by the client, I begin editing. I normally hire one or two editors to review the manuscript after I finish. The client is rarely involved in this stage as I would have already received all the feedback and comments in the previous phase.

It takes time

Hiring a ghostwriter makes writing a book simple and easy. However, I should warn you, it does require some time investment on the part of the author. Still, we’re taking dozens of hours rather than hundreds. Plan to spend a few hours a week answering questions and reviewing pages. Most clients find the process rewarding and, in the end, they always have a book with their name on it.

If you’re interested in hiring me, please email me, so we can put you on the calendar to get started as soon as possible.

Writing a Book: Your First Few Steps

Congratulations!

I’m thrilled that you made the momentous decision to complete that book that you’ve been thinking about writing for years! Bravo! That’s the first step. Now let’s tackle the next few.

I’m not here to tell you that writing a book can be made simple through a few steps. No, it will take time and patience. There is no way to even pen a short book in a few weeks. However, with a few preliminary steps I’d like to try to cut down on potential frustration!

Sum up your book in just a few lines

Before you can really start even outlining your book, you need to answer this fundamental question in a few lines: “What is your story about?” Then see if you can boil it down to a single line, a single breath. For example: This is a story about a young man, who rose from extreme poverty to become a successful entrepreneur. You know what the book is about, don’t you?

Why is this important? It keeps you on track. Plus, the themes, messages, and purposes of the book come out quickly from this simple one-line statement. It also keeps you from traveling down a divergent path. For instance, you might be tempted to devote three chapters of your business memoir to a failed marriage, designed to help budding entrepreneurs. Perhaps you’re hoping to get in a few good digs along the way. Well, that doesn’t really match your original concept, does it? So, toss it.

However, delving into an early business failure could definitely help your readers avoid the same pitfalls. Those stories would definitely be good to tell and would be important to your story.

Assignment: Write a one- to three-line summary of your story, answering the question, “What is your story about?”

What’s your purpose?

Why are you interested in writing your book? What do you hope your reader will gain from reading it?

As I’ve written a few times in my blog, if your purpose is to get back at someone, think again. That story just isn’t something worth reading. Another purpose that rarely works is financial. If you’re looking to make a million off of your story, and that is your primary goal, it won’t come out right.

By defining your purpose, you can help yourself stay on track. When you get into outlining, you can make sure that each scene, each segment aligns with that purpose fully. And if you find yourself straying, you can toss the paragraphs into a roaring proverbial bonfire.

Assignment: Write down your purpose(s) in writing your book.

What are your messages?

It’s good to work out what messages you wish to impart to your reader early in the process. This will help you sort through all the information you’ll gather later, in order to figure out what will make the cut. It will also help you find your writing voice and determine how you want to tell your story (or share your wisdom).

For instance, one of your messages for your memoir might be about the value of perseverance. Another message could center around the importance of ethical behavior in business. So, the individual stories that will make up the book should center around these themes.

Assignment: Write down the messages you wish to impart to your reader.

Once you’ve finished these steps, you’ll be ready to start collecting notes, which you’ll use to create an outline. That will be the subject for the next blog article! Let me know how you did with the assignments above in the comment section below!

If you decide you wish to hire a ghostwriter, please contact me. I’d like to help. And if you wish to learn about my pricing, please check out my article on the subject!

Thank you and keep writing!

If you liked this article, here are a few additional ones you might find helpful:

Questions for a Ghostwriter

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

Tips for Writing Your Memoir

People from all around the world email me each week with a strong desire to write their memoir. I love these requests! Memoirs and autobiographies are so important as they record a slice of history. As readers, we can all really benefit from these books in so many ways. After all, when we are given the freedom to step into another’s shoes for a few moments, we often comprehend life a little better. I know I learn a lot by reading a good memoir.

So, how do you go about writing your life story?

First, understand that a memoir isn’t purely a list of chronological events. I was born… then I ate cereal on the 22nd of September…then I… No, I think we can all agree this is boring. Yes, you will include dates and it’s best not to jump around the time line like a crazed kangaroo on frosted coco sugar squares, but we need to find the right stories to share.

FIND YOUR PURPOSE

Sit down and write out the summaries of important events that brought you to where you are today. Just a few lines that communicate to you. Trace your journey through these key incidents, so that you can lay out the breadcrumbs that others may follow.

As you identify these segments, zero in on the purpose of the scene. If you can’t identify a purpose, toss the scene. Be ruthless about this. Here are a few examples of a good purpose for a scene:

  • Introducing an important character
  • Showing a turning point in some key aspect of your life
  • Demonstrating an error you made
  • Sharing a realization you had

Of course, there are many more, but these give you a few ideas. Now, in contrast, here are some examples of bad purposes, which should be avoided at all costs:

  • I’d really like to get back at so-and-so.
  • I want to brag.
  • I’m angry at the world.

Your reader will be able to discern your purpose easily, and will throw your book away like a hot potato if they sense your motive is self-serving. You have to be honest with yourself here, as there is no fooling your reader. They’ll know.

When done correctly, the various incidents will fit together like an intricate puzzle, a beautiful work of kinetic art. They flow seamlessly. One question that will help you determine whether any particular incident should be included is: Does it help move the story forward? Make sure it does.

DISCOVER YOUR THEMES

As you write the summaries of these scenes down, observe what the emerging themes might be. Consider the lessons you’ve learned, which you wish to impart to your readers. Some examples of powerful and effective messages that I’ve recently seen are:

  • Hard work can overcome many obstacles.
  • Don’t hold on to anger. Forgive.
  • Practical experience is essential for any entrepreneur.
  • Failure is always part of success, if you learn from your mistakes.

It can take time, but you must discover your messages before you can really write a good memoir.

When you sit down to write your chapters, you need to write with honesty. Tap into your emotions and communicate them. Use all your senses to describe what occurred for you in the past. That way your reader will feel what you felt. If you do it correctly, your reader will experience your life as if they had been there alongside you.

Enjoy the process! And if you need help, please don’t hesitate to contact me. To learn more about pricing, here is an article I wrote a while back.

If you liked this article, here are a few additional ones you might find helpful:

Questions for a Ghostwriter

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?