Create a Worthy Hero for Your Book

Create a worthy hero for your novel or memoirWhether you’re writing a memoir or a novel, you’ll need to create a worthy hero, a character your readers will want to read about. With a memoir, you’ll have the honor of taking on this role. With a fictional piece, you the author will need to mold him or her from scratch using only your imagination. Do it well and correctly and this will be a main character your readers will root for throughout the novel.

The flaw in the perfection

When you think of a hero, Superman might come to mind. This man had very few problems and on real character flaws (except that he was too perfect). Add to that, he was drop dead handsome to boot. Although we love stories about superheroes, they aren’t exactly relatable to us mere mortals. After all, humans have issues, some problem that can make us cringe when we consider them. The heroes of popular novels and memoirs aren’t Superman. They aren’t even close.

If you think about the books and movies that you’ve absorbed over the last few years, you’ll discover that the main character is usually riddled with problems. At least in the beginning when the story starts.

Two examples

In Nomadland, the main character Fern is forced from her home and hometown. Her solution is to live in a van and travel as a nomad. Most of the people in her life disagree with this decision and try to “help” her with other solutions, but she is determined. She is in poverty and must work at menial jobs to make ends meet. We often see her in her van eating meager meals, and we wonder if she will truly survive to the end of the story.

Fern isn’t a superhero. However, you like her and can relate to her. And you root for her to make it.

In contrast, Harry Potter might be classified as a superhero. I mean he takes on the worst villain in the series head on multiple times. However, unlike Superman, Harry has flaws. In the beginning he doesn’t seem to understand his worth and rarely stands up for himself. He often resembles a human punching bag. Then as he learns how to be a wizard, he has his ups and downs, mostly self-created. He sneaks around a lot putting himself and his friends in danger. He’s also quite moody (with good reason) and isn’t always kind.

There are many examples of imperfect heroes who start their adventures with many flaws. These are just two that I’ve recently come across. Both protagonists are very different, of course, but they are both likeable and popular characters, because they aren’t perfect people leading boring lives.

An imperfect life

Give your worthy hero a lot of problems to solveIntroducing a flawed character to the reader, you’ll notice that the good authors won’t typically jump to solve their protagonists’ problems. No, things tend to go in the opposite direction. This can be difficult if you like the fictional people you’ve created. It can seem mean to put them into unpleasant situations where you know they will wallow around a bit, making a mess of their lives. However, it is necessary to put your heroes through the wringer for good storytelling. They need a healthy dose of conflict.

Two examples

Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables would be the first to tell you that she is far too stubborn for her own good. She spends most of the novel getting into a lot of trouble, dragging her friends along for the ride. What would be the fun if she were always perfectly behaved and never stepped out of line? It would be a boring read. She is who she is, and we love her for it. Flaws and all.

In another example, Emma, the heroine of Emma, spends a lot of time avoiding her own life and chooses instead to meddle in her friend’s love life. The messes she makes escalate to a fevered pitch as the novel progresses, causing chaos for all around her. It could be argued that Emma is a sweet girl with good intentions, but her actions are harmful to her friends and quite flawed.

Now, if I’m being completely honest, when I began writing I was hesitant to put my protagonists into harm’s way. I wanted to help them quickly and minimize the damage they caused. Looking back, I suppose I felt a bit like their mother, wanting to save them from agony and misery at all costs. Through experience I learned that conflict is key, and if I truly wish to create a worthy hero, I needed to provide plenty of obstacles throughout my novels.

Conflict is vital for good storytelling.

All’s well that ends well

Create a worthy character and give them a nice endingIf you’re worried about the fate of your main characters, know that they should wind up in a different place by the end of your book (or series of books). Their journey will include some kind of transformation or change. Those flaws will probably be worked on and resolved in some way.

I hesitate to analyze the endings of the stories that I’ve mentioned in this article, because I wouldn’t want to spoil their endings for you. However, if you are familiar with these books or movies, you’ll know that each character learned a variety of lessons and came out the other end a better person. There, no spoiler alerts needed.

The reason we cheer for the heroes at the end is that they came from a flawed beginning. They each rose up through the experiences of the book to arrive at a better place in the final pages. Your heroes transformed like butterflies from a cocoon, blossoming into the best versions of themselves (or at least an improved version). This triumphant victory will cause a flood of emotion in your readers.

Let’s talk about you

Write your memoir and become a worthy heroIf you’re writing a memoir, you will be delving into your life story. You are the hero of the book, and you are the one who will need to undergo a transformation. If you present yourself as perfection personified, there’s nowhere for you to go but along a flat course. That’s rather boring and will probably be less than factual. I’m sorry, but you probably have a few flaws (don’t hit me).

When searching for the story to write, you need to be OK with revealing your personal flaws. Without those issues, you can’t create a worthy hero for your story. You can’t really be a good protagonist, because there will be no personal dragons to slay. There isn’t a journey to embark upon and there’s no way up. It’s all flat and boring. This happened, then this, and then that. The end. Nope, no one will want to read that book.

Now I’m not saying that you must reveal all your flaws and secrets. You’re the author. That means that you get to pick what details to share. However, you do need to be real with your readers. Share what you can. In the end, you’ll show improvement, right? So that means that people will forgive and forget your initial imperfections.


So remember as an author you need to create a worthy hero by starting with an imperfect protagonist who is riddled with flaws, problems, and issues. Give them tons of obstacles, create conflict, and make their lives unhappy for some time before you allow them to learn their life lesson so they can make the improvements they need to make. I know this isn’t easy, but it’s all part of the job of being a master storyteller. Have fun with it!

Check out these additional resources if you’d like to learn more about writing a novel or memoir:

Memoir Themes

Character Arcs

Know Your Story

Please, let me know if I can be of any help to you

    Recording Family History for Future Generations

    Recording Family History is importantI’ve been a ghostwriter for twenty years and love what I do. I get to take on many different characters, such as a slothful worker in a futuristic world, a husband and wife who battled cancer and won, a teenage rebel in communist Hungary, as well as dozens more. I also get to share important knowledge that was once only known to an elite few in the form of a how-to business book. However, recording family history is one of the most precious assignments. I am always honored when asked to do so.

    Whoever the project, I’m always grateful for the opportunity to help my clients write their books. And I learn a lot through the process.

    People sometimes ask what the most common request I get as a ghostwriter. Well, that would have to be hands down a memoir. People want me to write their life stories and adventures. Each one is so different, and each client has their own voice, message, and purpose for writing their book.

    Zeroing in on the purpose

    When I interview a potential client, one of my first tasks is to get their true motivation behind the book project. That’s important for a number of reasons.

    For one thing, I want to help them achieve their goals. Honestly, my clients’ goals become mine as we form a writing team.

    One of my favorite aspects about being a ghostwriter is that I get to become a family’s historian. Recording family history is like becoming a detective in a way. It requires a lot of research, intuition, and interviewing. It’s an honor to be allowed into each client’s inner circle, so that I can record their stories for future generations—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

    Record your memories

    Many of my clients have no intention of ever publishing their memoirs. One beautifully vibrant elderly woman recently told me, “It’s just too personal.” In her case, she had me write her stories simply to understand and record her own life. She didn’t want her lessons to be lost over time. She wanted her daughters to know who she was. After all, if no one recorded her life, all those thoughts and lessons learned would vanish. It’s a valid concern. I applaud anyone who takes the time to write down their words, thoughts, and ideas for their friends and family. Yes, it takes time, but it is well worth it.

    The advantage of hiring a ghostwriter to record your family history is that should you decide to have it published, you can easily self-publish on It will be ready to go. There’s no obligation to have the final book published, of course, but why not give yourself the option of sharing your story with others when the time is right?

    Appointing your family historian

    While hiring a ghostwriter has many advantages, I understand that not everyone can afford the fee. If you can’t, I recommend appointing someone in your family to be the historian. Once selected, encourage and help that person interview every family member as in-depth as possible.

    One tip I can offer the family historian is to capture each person’s exact words. After all, everyone has a different way of expressing themselves. There’s no right or wrong here, just jot down any idioms they might use and make a note of their mannerisms.

    Incident of a book: couple drinking coffeeBut whatever you do, don’t correct their grammar. You’re not their seventh grade English teacher. If Grandpa says, “ain’t,” keep it that way. It’s real and it’s him. Recording family history with integrity is vital for any successful book. Plus it will allow future generations a better sense of who your grandfather was. Note down exactly what each person says as they say it and use those words.

    Through this journey, you will likely discover that your elders have lived through some amazing times. Perhaps your great uncle fought in a war. Or your grandmother escaped a brutal dictator. Maybe various family members traveled to a variety of exotic locations you never knew about. Whatever the case, you’re bound to learn a lot about your family.

    So, when should you start?


    I mean it!

    Time isn’t always on your side, especially if members of your family are getting on in years. So now is the perfect opportunity to talk with them. Go for it! And have fun!

    If you need help, feel free to contact me. I love helping families record their history! Check out a few of my testimonials.

    Additional articles you might find helpful:

    How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

    Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

    My Ghostwriting Process

    How Can I Help?

      Writing a Memoir: Know Your Story

      When writing a memoir you must know your storyWhen writing a memoir, it is different from writing an autobiography. Where an autobiography traditionally covers the author’s entire life, a memoir zeros in on a specific period of time. 

      If your book is too general, it won’t make for a good read.

      A good friend and fellow ghostwriter attends many writer’s conferences teeming with agents and publishers. He once gave me some excellent advice. He said, “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. The best way to sell a book is to state the book’s focus upfront.”

      I’d add that you should know the purpose of your story. When you understand why you’re writing the book, you’ll be able to begin to write your memoir.

      Know your story

      Each author will have a different reason for writing their book. In the example above, perhaps you are a high-school teacher in the inner city and you’re writing a memoir to encourage parents to be more active with their child’s education. Well, if that’s your purpose, tell that story. Make sure all the scenes of the book align with that message. In addition, the characters you add should fit into the story.

      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. However, if your past doesn’t really relate to your memoir’s purpose, 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, which is about working with inner city kids.

      Know your options

      you have options when you are writing a memoir

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

      Or your book might span two decades, showing your breadth of experience and many examples of neglect with final resolutions that all exemplify the problem.

      Another option could be to focus on one family. 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 they boy’s education, while other parents failed to do so.

      Note: We just discussed three versions of one life story. You can 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.

      Whatever you decide you must pick a lane and stick to it.

      Know your readership

      It’s important to define your readership before you begin writing a memoir, so you can communicated effectively to that group of people.

      In the above memoir example, your reader would probably be parents of high school students because you wish to influence them to be more a part of their children’s education. 

      However, your reader could potentially be written to other teachers and school administrators. If that is the case, your book would have a very different feel. Is this a David vs Goliath story, concluding with your victorious battle to make improvements within the school system? If so, you could potentially help others forge an improvement in a system that can seem impossible to penetrate.

      Whatever you do, you must select your readership and write to them.

      When writing a memoir, remember that you get to tell the story you wish to tell. Include what you want and toss the rest. Most likely you’ll find that you have a few books within you. Select one and start writing!

      If you’re looking for a little help, please feel free to reach out to me. And if you’re considering hiring a ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

      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?

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        How to Share Your Story

        Share your story

        After talking to countless people over the years, I truly believe that every person has at least one book within them. Do you? You might agree, but wonder how to share your story with the world.

        Perhaps you have an account of a memorable trip trudging through the Amazon rainforest with only a backpack. Or maybe your father or mother immigrated to America a generation ago and found success through hard work, giving you opportunities they never had. Or perhaps you wish to chronicle your meteoric rise through your niche industry and wish to share your story through a how-to book. 

        Then again, you might just want to let yourself escape into a rollicking adventure yarn set in a far-off galaxy. Share your story and you just might capture the interest of a movie producer.

        Whether fact or fiction, you wish to share your story and it is begging to be told.

        In writing.

        Within the pages of a book.

        Now, how do you get the ideas out of your head and onto the page?

        Create detailed notes

        I recommend that you record your initial ideas for your book in a notebook or on your computer. Don’t worry about formatting, grammar or spelling at this phase. Simply put your thoughts down.

        Personally, I always have multiple Word documents open when I’m starting a book: character biographies (useful for memoirs and novels), incidents for an outline, research topics, etc. If you need help organizing your thoughts, please email me.


        What's your story?Now, if you’re writing a memoir, I’d suggest jotting down everything you can remember about the places you’ve been, the people you interacted with, and the key events of your life. Close your eyes and see what images you can find, listen for the speech patterns of the people around you, smell the odors, taste the foods, and feel the textures. Write them all down. These details will help bring your memories to life.


        If you’re creating a fictional world, let your imagination run free. The more vividly you conceptualize the characters and settings, the clearer your readers will be able so see them. It still helps to create notes, so you don’t lose your ideas.

        If you’re working on a sci-fi novel, this is the time to build your world. Create the science, philosophy, and everything your readers will need to understand in order to become immersed in your story.

        How-to book

        It’s a good idea to down load the notes you’ll need to build your business book. If you’re an expert in a niche market, jot down all the tidbits of information you wish to share. Also, include humorous anecdotes and heart-wrenching stories that will help your readers identify with you and the lessons you wish to teach.

        Collect sources for research

        Whether you’re writing a how-to book, a memoir, or a novel, you need to do research. Even if you’re an expert on the subject, you’ll need to delve into details. Every writer becomes a researcher! There has never been a book that I could write without doing extensive study.

        Today, research is easy through search engines, but sometimes you might need the help of a library. In those cases, you’ll need to take good notes and jot down the names of the books you use, along with the page numbers, so you can find the information again or reference it later.


        Take the time to research the locations and time period of your life story. Make sure you’re remembering everything correctly. For instance, if you visited NYC as a child, you might have dined at Mama Leone’s. But what was the address? Hm… Well, a quick Google search shows that it was on West 44th street in the early 1990’s, but went out of business soon after. Including little details helps bring a story alive.

        How-to book

        Even if you’re an expert in an area, you’ll need to find other sources of information on the subject. When I’m forming my outline (or Table of Contents), I find it helpful to copy links into the document under the subsection when I find a particularly helpful resource. Trust me, weeks later, it will be hard to find that source again. Good notes save a lot of time.


        Write and share your storyResearch is a fundamental element for fiction writing as well. Your writing must always be authentic. So, if you’re writing about the Amazon rainforest, and you’ve never been, you’ll need to read dozens of references to be able to describe the environment accurately. If you have visited the spot, you’ll still need to collect information about the history, vegetation, and the wildlife of the area. Your experiences will form the story, but research is invaluable to fill in the gaps.

        Determine your reader and messages

        Before you can begin writing, you must figure out who your reader will be. As I have mentioned a few times in previous blog articles, your readers can’t be “everyone.” It’s too general and vague. Be specific. Your reader might be teenage boys who are interested in soccer or retired women interested in a ornithology. You can see how the communication would be much different for these two categories of readers!

        Next you’ll need to hone in on the messages you wish to communicate. Do you want people to learn that hard work and personal integrity can overcome obstacles and lead to success? Or maybe you want to share how patience and loyalty are the basis for long-lasting relationships? Being clear about your message will help you align the action of your story.

        Be true to yourself

        Most of us speak differently than we write. I’ve noticed that some people can wax formal when they have a pen in their hand! They take out contractions completely and dust off their finest vocabulary in an attempt to impress. The reader doesn’t care about any of that. They are looking for your voice in your writing, not that of your eleventh grade English teacher. Be yourself.

        Take the next step

        Now that you have thorough notes and research sources, you are ready to begin carving out your outline. Then you can write your book. Carve out the time and avoid distractions! For more information on the next steps to take, you will find many articles about writing on my blog. I hope they help!

        If you would like the help of a ghostwriter to share your story, please reach out to me (whether it be for a novel, memoir or how-to book). The research and notes you’ve created will not go to waste. After all, ghostwriters will need good notes to help create your vision. Please contact me if you are interested in going this route.

        If you’d like advice on how to hire a ghost, please check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

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          How to Find Your Memoir Themes

          Finding your memoir theme is a big part of storytelling.Sharing your life story through a memoir is an intimidate and special experience. As you outline your book, you should consider the incidents that will flow together to tell your life story. When you do it well, the memoir themes you wish to weave should pop out nicely.

          You might be thinking, “Hey, I’m just writing what happened in my life. Why would my memoir need to have a theme?” Well, the truth is that memoir themes are vital to your story’s success. After all, a memoir is a specialized autobiography and, as such, it must follow the rules of literature.

          What is a theme?

          Simply put, the theme of a book is the main idea that ties everything together. This idea might express a basic universal truth, such as Love, Compassion, Tolerance, War, or Loyalty.

          These general themes can be further refined to explore a specific aspect. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare broke down the idea of “Love” and particularly examined forbidden love and its potential consequences.

          A theme can also delve into a deeper concept, such as the battle between good and evil. For example, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin explores many shades of good and evil throughout.

          The theme is usually not stated outright. You never want to bonk the readers over their heads with your theme. Instead, the author gives the reader insight into his view of the world and the human condition through the characters’ beliefs, actions, experiences and conversations.

          How do themes relate to memoirs?

          When you write your memoir, you’re not just publishing a shopping list of memories. You are telling the story of pivotal moments in your life, of the lessons you’ve learned that make you who you are.

          To capture your readers’ interest, you will need to share these incidents in the most interesting way possible, highlighting key events (creating action) and the people who influenced you most (who become characters in your book).

          So, your memoir must follow the same rules as any good piece of literature: you must be able to tie the threads of your story tapestry together with a compelling theme.

          How do I find my memoir themes?

          Memoir theme of achieving life goal

          If you’re struggling to find a good theme, check out my detailed article: Tips To Find Your Memoir Theme. To summarize, here are some key ideas you can explore:

          1. Look over your life story. Were there any obstacles you overcame? What lessons did you learn along the way? Jot these down, and they might point you in the direction of one or two memoir themes.
          2. Summarize your story in one or two sentences. When you drill down to the core of what your story is about, the theme often reveals itself.
          3. Step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself questions such as “Why did I make that choice?” or “What would I do differently now that I know what I know today?” These questions could help you formulate your memoir themes.
          4. Talk to someone who knows your story. Since she has an outside perspective, she may spot similarities to unify your message.

          I was working with a client who had an oppressive influence as a child. She hadn’t recognized it prior to our conversation, but when the stories started flooding out, she realized that an old schoolteacher wasn’t the hero she remembered him to be. One theme that came from these discussions is how one can overcome childhood adversities to become a success.

          So, what are some good themes for your memoir? Well, let’s start with some examples of great memoir themes that I’ve encountered in my two decades as a ghostwriter. Maybe a few will resonate with you. Feel free to make adjustments to make them work for your story.

          Persistence always wins in the end

          If you’ve lived a hard life, one with lots of obstacles to overcome, this can be a great theme if you’ve triumphed. Others will benefit greatly from your story, perhaps finding the strength to pull themselves out of their current hardship.

          Note: If you’re still amid the battle and really don’t have anything positive to share, now isn’t the time to write. And if your real goal is to complain to your reader, your story won’t make for a good read. I mean, would you want to read a book like that?

          Continual courage can lead to victory

          We have all experienced battles where the odds seemed against us. It’s what you do at those moments that counts and can make for a good story. If your life is filled with examples of courage and integrity, that would be a great theme.

          I’ve ghostwritten many books with this theme. In fact, three different clients came to me with stories of escaping communism and fascism in bold and daring ways. We can all learn from their bravery.

          Family is important

          Family is important is a great themeThis is a simple theme, but a good one. In this day and age, where the media reports that most marriages fail and children are growing up without the support and love of their parents, a good memoir showing the beautiful bond of family is a needed commodity. Of course, this theme can go beyond the traditional family structure. If you’ve experienced success and happiness in a non-traditional setting, this can truly inspire others in a similar situation.

          Then there is always a need for good advice. Especially in the field of parenting. If you’ve evolved a unique approach that had positive results, you will have an interested audience.

          Simply recording your family history for future generations is also a great concept! This is a popular request of a ghostwriter.

          Ethical people lead better lives

          If your story highlights times when you stood up and did the right thing, even when it was difficult for you, your story can set an important example for others. It isn’t always easy to keep your integrity, especially when peers are pressuring you to do the opposite.

          Writing a book that shows how you succeeded by being ethical can help others make similar choices in their own lives. Perhaps someone will pick up your book when he’s at an important crossroad in his life and just needs a gentle nudge to make the right decision.

          Crime doesn’t pay

          Over the years I have received a number of requests from former inmates who are eager to share their stories of reform. The ones who are passionate about this subject, who regularly go out and speak to young adults, can do well with a complementary memoir.

          A memoir from a former inmate will be rough in places and won’t always be happy-go-lucky, but the lessons learned by someone who has traveled the wrong path can be helpful to others. This theme only works if the author is presently leading a successful and ethical life.

          Being true to oneself brings rewards

          integrity is a good memoir theme

          In a world of peer pressure and a constant demand to conform, it can be hard to find one’s way. Influencers from all corners of the globe (or perhaps just down the street) loudly proclaim their “truths” and harass anyone who doesn’t agree. If you’ve remained true to your beliefs despite pressure to surrender, your courage can be a beacon for others to do the same.

          For example, many young artists are guided away from their passions by people around them. The ones who have weathered the critics around them and have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations may instill hope in others undergoing a similar struggle.

          Some people have had a difficult decision to make in life and chose an unconventional route. Those authors could motivate others to consider alternative ways as well.

          I ghostwrote a book about a woman whose young son had horrible symptoms. She defied her doctors by doing independent research and discovered the true nature of her son’s illness, thus saving him. This story continues to inspire parents all over the globe struggling with a similar problem.

          Journeying outside of one’s comfort zone expands horizons

          Journeying outside your comfort zone is a great memoir theme

          So many people have well-established routines that ultimately don’t do much to fulfill their true life goals. I think most people have a vague awareness that things could be different, could be better, but have no idea how to implement the changes required to make a difference.

          If you’ve broken the bonds and found new vistas of joy and fulfillment, your journey could encourage others to take their own leaps of faith.

          This journey could be literal. Perhaps the author traveled to a different country and immersed himself in its culture, thereby gaining a broader understanding of what others have to endure to survive and a deeper appreciation of his own opportunities.

          Or perhaps the journey is more figurative, more internal. It may be that the author has overcome a potent fear in order to pursue her dream. Or possibly she’s been able to make a change for the better, improving her moral compass along the way.

          Life transitions can bring new experiences and joys

          Shakespeare wrote a famous monologue about the seven ages of man, detailing each stage a person transitions through in life, a concept philosophers have been contemplating for eons. Each shift into a new phase of life can be a potent memoir theme.

          Some transitions can be joyful, while others are often fraught with difficulties.  How did you approach a shift in life? Did you discover a new method of tackling a transition that could help others?

          For example, perhaps when you and your spouse had children while maintaining full time jobs, you discovered some methods to juggle both successfully. Or if you’ve hit retirement early and have started a new business, you can share your successful actions and help others do the same.

          As you begin to write your life story, there are so many great and inspiring memoir themes for you to explore. Really, you just need to look at the positive impact your story could have on others and then write it from the heart.

          If you’re in the market to hire a ghostwriter, please contact me. I’d love to chat with you about your memoir project!

          Additional articles you might find helpful:

          My Ghostwriting Process

          Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

          Ask a Ghostwriter: How Can you Research a Memoir?

          Memoir Mistakes You Should Avoid

          How can I help you with your memoir?

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            Family History Books Are Valuable

            Record your family historyMany people desire to record their family’s history. If you feel strongly about this, I recommend that you appoint someone to be the family historian. That person must record the stories of the individual family members and relay them to the future generations so they can learn and grow from the experiences of their ancestors. We all benefit from our family history.

            When we uncover how our family struggled through hardships to get where they are today, when we really understand their viewpoints, it often answers questions we’ve asked ourselves about them, such as why grandpa responds the way he does or what makes Great Aunt Trudy hold onto certain idiosyncrasies. In addition, this knowledge can also explain our roles in our family and community.

            There are many different ways you can preserve family memories. If you have zillions of photographs, perhaps a scrapbook format would work. Some people build and bury a time capsule. Others gather all the recipes handed down through the generations and create a cookbook.

            Now, if your family’s story is an action-packed adventure tale, a book is the only way to truly do it justice. I know that writing a book can be quite an undertaking, but it is the surest way to immortalize your family story for the millennia to come. And this is where I come in. When you need help to write your family history in book form, call on me, your friendly ghostwriter.

            Here are some tips to you get started.

            How to format a family history book

            If you’ve decided to write your family history, you might not know where to begin. After all, you have generations of memories and anecdotes to choose from. The first step will be to determine the focus of the book.

            Will it center around one ancestor sharing his or her story?

            Or will it detail a single event that influenced the course of the entire family?

            Or perhaps you want to share multiple viewpoints of a generation that set the stage for the present-day condition of your family.

            Once you decide on the focus, the next decision is easier: the type of book to write. No matter which focus you choose, there are really only two main formats open to you:

              • Memoir
              • Narrative

            Memoir format

            Family history in a memoir formatIf the story highlights one individual sharing an exciting adventure from the annals of her past, you’ll want to choose a memoir format. While other important people will be featured in your book, the story will be told through that one family member’s eyes. It will give the reader insight into her unique viewpoint.

            I must say, by far the most common request I receive is to write a memoir. Each book is so different, because each client has his or her own voice, message, and purpose for writing their book.

            For instance, one book I wrote a couple of years ago featured a young Jewish girl who needed to separate from her family in Europe and pretend to be a devout Catholic to escape the Nazis. Although the experiences of her brothers and sisters are shared throughout the book, they were told through the eyes of the preteen.

            Tip: If you write a book in a memoir format, it will need to be written in the first person. This means that the main character will need to be present in each scene. After all, she couldn’t have experienced the incident if she wasn’t there.

            Narrative format

            If your family story is more of an ensemble piece, with many different people all playing an equal role, I’d suggest you stick with a narrative format. That way you can pick and choose the stories and people to focus on.

            For example, I wrote a story for an author who escaped communist Hungary on foot with his family. Since he was a toddler at the time of the Hungarian Revolution, it didn’t make sense to write it as a memoir. Instead, the story revolved around his parents and older sister, but included him throughout.

            Tip: When using a narrative format, you’ll write the book in the third person. Since you’ve chosen this format because you have multiple stories to tell, I’d recommend a multiple third person limited viewpoint (where you alternate between the viewpoints of different characters from segment to segment).

            The goals of a family history book

            If you find you need help and approach me to write your family history, I will start by giving you an introductory interview. One of my first tasks will be to get your true motivation behind the book project so that I can help you achieve your goals. After all, when I can truly understand my clients’ goals, their objectives become mine and we are able to form a writing team.

            Over the years, clients who approach me to write their family’s story, have two main purposes in mind:

                • To share their story with readers around the world
                • To write a book so their children’s children will know what happened


            write your family history for the future generationsI’ve worked with both goals and love to help families record their history. I am so grateful when I’m allowed into a client’s inner circle to learn their secrets and stories and get to record them for future generations—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It is an honor to become a family’s historian. It’s an important role, one that I cherish.

            It might surprise you to learn that some clients hire me and have no intention of ever publishing their book. For instance, you might ask me to write your family history simply because you are afraid that your ancestors’ memories and the lessons they learned will get lost over time, especially after they pass on. Perhaps you want your future family members to never forget the events of the past.

            This is a valid concern.

            One advantage of working with a ghostwriter to write your family history is that you leave the door open to publishing the book, if you choose to do so at a later time. After all, goals and purposes can change. When you work with a professional writer, you can be certain that you’ll wind up with a marketable manuscript which follows all the rules of literature.

            Appoint a family historian

            I would be honored if you considered hiring me to be your family historian. However, I recognize that not everyone can afford the fee. In that case, I recommend appointing a family member to write your family history and become your family historian.

            Find someone who is eager to embrace the events of the past. She will need to be patient and willing to wade through records and documents and be able to organize all the information. In addition, she should be an excellent communicator, who is willing to interview every family member and dig deep to uncover all the pertinent facts and memories.

            Here are a couple tips to help your family historian write your book:

            Tip #1: Capture a person’s exact words

            It is important that you capture each person’s exact words. After all, each member of your family will have a different way of expressing himself. Jot down any idioms the family member might use.

            Never correct his or her grammar. You aren’t a seventh grade English teacher. If Grandpa says, “ain’t,” keep it that way. It’s real and it’s part of what makes him Grandpa, right? Keeping his dialogue intact will allow future generations a better sense of who he was. Record exactly what each person says as they say it.

            In addition, make a note of their mannerisms so you can use these when you describe your family members in your book.

            Tip #2: Collect more information than you’ll use

            Collecting information for your bookWhen you write your book, plan to collect twice the material than you think you’ll use. It’s a bit like carving a work of art from stone. You need to start with a huge block of marble. Then you chip away at it until you uncover your sculpture within. With a book, you’ll need pages and pages of notes detailing adventures, challenges, life lessons, observations and the like. Within these pages you will find the golden nuggets that will help you write your family history.

            Tip #3: Be open to learning new things about your family

            While on this journey you will likely discover that your elders have lived through some amazing times. Some children have no idea what adventurous lives their ancestors have lived, or the hardships they endured. Perhaps your great uncle was a flying ace who engaged in dog fights during World War I. Or, it’s possible that you never knew that your grandmother escaped a brutal dictator on foot with her valuables sewn into her skirt. Or maybe various family members traveled to a variety of exotic locations and never told you. Whatever the case, you’re bound to learn a lot about your family members when you write your family history. Ask questions and be willing to take the book in new directions.

            Tip #4: Select your theme

            As with any memoir or story, your book will need to have one or more main themes. The theme you choose depends on the message you wish to communicate. There is no right or wrong answer here.

            A few powerful themes you might consider are:

              • Drive and determination can overcome obstacles
              • Families can come in many shapes and sizes
              • Sometimes the only way to survive is to fight back
              • Be grateful for everything you have in life
              • Never give up, no matter how painful the odds and opposition might be

            Tip #5: Use your senses

            Now that you’ve determined the theme for your book, you will probably find yourself approaching it from multiple angles. Not only will you have a variety of viewpoints to share, but through the multi-generational events, you can show your theme using all the senses and perceptions available to each character.

            For instance, I wrote the memoir of a man who grew up in a small one-room hovel without running water and electricity before achieving great wealth. To this day, he remains humble and is grateful for the simple pleasures of that early lifestyle, as well as the loving upbringing his parents provided. Together, he and I brought the conditions to life by not only describing the vistas but giving texture to the mud walls and sharing the tastes of his mother’s simple, but delicious cooking. Later, when his mother and father visited his mansion in California, the readers experienced the contrasting luxury along with his parents.

            Note: The theme of gratitude was consistent throughout the book.


            So, when should you start?


            I mean it!

            Time isn’t always on your side, especially if members of your family are getting on in years. So now is the perfect opportunity to talk with them. Go for it! And have fun!

            If you need help, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help you write your family history! Check out a few of my testimonials.

            Additional articles you might find helpful:

            A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Is It Charged?

            How Can You Research a Memoir?

            Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

            Let me know how I can help you!

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              How to Edit Your Own Book

              edit your own book to create a masterpieceIf you want to be a great writer and create a best-selling novel, memoir, or business book, you must learn how to edit your own book.

              As an author, you are probably adept at magically weaving words together to create worlds which will entice and educate your readers, but keep in mind that you are also in charge of making sure your words communicate. A book that doesn’t communicate to its readers is destined to remain unread.

              If you can become your own editor, you have a good chance of becoming a popular and well-read author. In addition you will become a stronger writer. Your first drafts will become better and better with each subsequent book because you will spot your weak points and correct them. Not only will you improve your ability to structure plot, create characters and highlight themes, but you will reduce the number of spelling and grammatical errors.

              Edit your own book before you publish it

              It’s important to note that after you edit, and before you publish, you will need to hire outside editors to make sure everything works. Most authors hire at least a developmental editor and a copy editor. If you have questions about this area, please check out my article about the different kinds of editors available to you.

              However, before you turn over your work to a professional editor, you will need to make sure it is the best you can make it. That way the editor can do a better job for you.

              The editing process begins with you

              editing is a bit like cleaning up after a partyYour editor can do a much better job if he doesn’t need to wade through a super rough draft. It’s a little like hiring someone to clean your home after a party where litter and lampshades are strewn around the floor. While some may feel it is silly to clean up for the cleaner, it actually makes sense.

              With the obvious mess out of the way, he can spend his time doing a detailed cleaning. It’s the same with your manuscript. When you clean it up, it will save your editor time, which will save you money.

              The editing process ends with you

              When you hire a professional editor, she will give you a lot of comments. Some will be elements that you must change, while others will be an opinion. You need to recognize the difference and act accordingly.

              If you misspelled a word or misused a comma, you’ll need to make those corrections. However, sometimes the editor might not quite get your voice, your style, or your meaning. In those cases, you need to know not to make those changes. If you plan to develop a long-term relationship with an editor, communicate directly with her about those points so that she can understand how to better edit your work. If she is defensive, find another editor. There are many good ones out there.

              Publishing options

              While it’s true that traditional publishers provide in-house editors for all the books they have under contract, you still need to get in the front door. It’s vital to present the best draft you can. Otherwise, they will ignore your manuscript and reach for one of the many thousands that grace their inbox.

              Most authors opt to self-publish. Although you can self-publish anything these days, the last thing you want is to publish a book full of plot holes and riddled with typos and errors.

              You can never erase the bad reviews you’ll get.

              Proper editing will go a long way to encouraging a slew of five-star reviews, which will help you to develop a following.

              Edit your own book with the big picture in mind

              It’s a mistake to focus on grammar and editing when you first sit down to edit your own book. This isn’t a good place to start. Instead, begin by looking at the overall structure and flow of your book. Later you can work your way down to the fine details. When you tackle the big picture first, many of your words and sentences will change, thereby possibly eliminating the need to correct spelling and grammatical errors.

              When you edit your own book ask what is my story aboutTo get a sense of the big picture, I find it helps to find a one-line answer to the question, “What is my story about?” The answer you come up with will help you align your book around that central concept.

              For instance, let’s say you determine that your book is about how you struggled through adversity to become a successful business owner. Skip the late-night stress-baking scenes or the irrelevant tiffs with in-laws. Unless the scene directly relates to the purpose and thrust of your book, delete it.

              Let’s examine various key elements of the big picture.


              When you first start to edit your own book, I suggest that you examine the plot. Make sure it hits all the areas you need it to hit:

              • Have you followed the three-act structure?
              • Does the story flow logically?
              • Is there a good level of conflict and tension?

              If you haven’t outlined your book, now might be a good time to analyze the purpose of each incident within your story. If you can’t find a purpose for the scene, delete it.


              The next step is to scrutinize your characters carefully from a big picture viewpoint. Do they each have a purpose in the novel or memoir? If not, cut them out. This can be the hardest part of editing for an author, I know. Writers tend to get attached to the people they created.

              While you are sharpening your editing sheers, keep in mind that a character’s role can be small, yet significant. For instance, the barista who serves Joe a cup of joe every day might be a sounding board for his new ideas. Or Clarissa’s strict piano teacher might help the reader understand why she is such a perfectionist as an adult.

              The main characters should all follow character arcs. In other words, they need to have some sort of transformation through the incidents of the story. Look over a few of your favorite books. Can you identify the character arcs within the stories?

              If you’re writing a memoir, keep in mind that you are the main character of your story.


              Themes are the main ideas that tie your story together. Universal themes deal with ideas about Love, Friendship, War, Faith and the like. More specifically, you can have themes such as “Persistence always wins in the end,” “Family is important,” or “Being true to oneself has rewards.” For more information about themes, read my article, Great Memoir Themes.

              Your book should explore one or more themes. I like to think of it like weaving gold thread through tapestry to make it shimmer. You never want to hit your reader over the head with a theme. Instead, you want to suggest it and have the readers recognize the concept for themselves. Or not. Readers never like to be told what to think. I mean, who does?

              As you edit, make sure your story aligns with your theme. For instance, if you want to promote the idea that kindness wins in the end, you might not want your lead character to succeed by gleefully hurting others around him with no consequence.

              Zoom in to edit your scenes

              zoom in to view the individual scenes of your bookNow that you have all the big picture elements the way you want them, it’s time to closely examine your individual scenes one by one.

              In the opening scene you want to grab the reader by the scruff of his neck and (hopefully) never let go. One way to do this is to drop him in the middle of the ocean and demand that he treads water to keep up. This is the make-break point of your book. The opening scene can be the most challenging to write, so some authors rewrite that first crucial scene after they complete their first draft. It can be easier to edit after the book is completed because you know exactly where the story winds up and you have all the story elements worked out.

              As you review each scene, make sure it has a strong purpose in your story. It should move the story forward or illuminate an important aspect of your characters.

              Also, determine if the scenes flow well the way you have them organized. You might need to switch them around and create new transitions.

              If you’re a writer who writes by the seat of his pants rather than outlining ahead of time, this is a good time to sprinkle in a few foreshadowing elements. While plotters might have that covered, during the editing process they might have brilliant insights that inspire them to add in a few more.

              This is also a good time to review your transitions. If they are too jarring, your reader will be flung out of your book and might never find his way back. Ideally, you want one scene to flow into the next like a long river.

              Characters, a closer look

              When you examine your characters, make sure they are believable and three-dimensional. Even if a character is secondary, she needs to have proper development and realistic motivations for her actions. Of course, a bank teller who appears once on page fifty-nine doesn’t need a back story, but consider that the third-grade teacher, who is featured in a quarter of the book, will need more than a mere physical description.

              Continuity is something to look at in this phase. In the big picture you’ve gone over the character arc and made sure each main character has hit the highs and the lows that he or she should. But now it’s time to make sure each character is consistent in his speech and actions. If Matilda was angry and sullen in the first part of the book, but suddenly becomes cheerful halfway through, there needs to be a reason. Likewise, if you established that Terry wasn’t very bright, it wouldn’t make sense if you later have him wax intellectual about a scientific discovery.

              Point of View

              You can write your book from different points of view:

              • First person – The protagonist is telling the story. He is part of the story and shares his experiences directly.
              • Second person (rare) – The narrator is telling the story of “you,” so that it seems like the action is happening to you (the reader).
              • Third person limited – The narrator shares some of the thoughts and experiences of the characters, usually just one character.
              • Third person multiple – The narrator shares the thoughts and experiences of several characters.
              • Third Person omniscient – The narrator shares the thoughts and experiences of all characters.

              Make sure you are keeping the point of view consistent throughout the story. For instance, if you’ve chosen third person limited and are writing from Mary’s point of view, you can’t suddenly switch over to James’ in the middle of a scene. Find a way to show how he is feeling from Mary’s viewpoint.

              For instance, you wouldn’t say:

              James couldn’t believe his ears. How could she have said that?

              Instead, you might say:

              Mary took a step back as James advanced on her saying, “How could you say something like that to me?”


              Create realistic dialogue for the characters in your bookDialogue should have a purpose. It should move the story forward by providing information, advancing the plot or giving insight into your characters. Dialogue can be a wonderfully subtle way to reveal your characters’ motivations, as well as their overall moral compass and viewpoints.

              Each character should have his or her own way of speaking. For instance, someone who is angry at the world will speak in shorter sentences, whereas someone with a flair for the dramatic might wax poetic with long, flowery prose. In addition, people in the real world sometimes make up their own words or phrases.

              As you edit your own book, read your dialogue out loud or maybe have a friend read it to you. Listen carefully to the words and see if they sound real. Bad dialogue stands out like a leech on your leg.

              Make sure each character has a distinct voice which is consistent and predictable. Pay close attention to your main character’s voice, especially if he or she is the narrator.

              Edit your own book line by line

              Now it’s time to zero in on each line of your book. Again, you shouldn’t focus on this task until you have completed the big picture and the scene analyses. Here you’ll focus on the word choice and look for errors.

              Line editing is an art and there are many, many ways to edit your words so that they communicate effectively and efficiently. There are too many areas to discuss in this article, but I wanted to highlight a few key ones.

              Show, don’t tell

              This is a writer’s mantra.

              When you edit your own book and see that you’re explaining something such as an emotion or a thought, consider how you might show it. This allows the reader to see it and draw his own conclusions, making him an active part of the story.

              For example, you wouldn’t say:

              Susie thought of the way Barry broke up with her. This made her feel sad. She missed him so much.

              However, you might write:

              Susie saw Barry across the room. She turned with a sigh and blinked away a tear as she fingered the silver chain he’d given her the previous month.

              For a more detailed explanation of this concept of show, don’t tell, please check out my article on the subject.

              Minimize your use of adverbs

              Adverbs can weaken your writing. They also tell the reader something rather than allowing him to experience it. So, it’s good to use adverbs sparingly. Instead, use strong verbs to show the reader what is happening.

              For example:

              “I’ll do it later,” he said tiredly.

              Instead, use something like this:

              John yawned and closed his eyes. “I’ll do it later,” he said.

              Keep your language real

              Never try to impress your reader with fancy vocabulary. Instead, focus on words that best communicate your ideas.

              For example, please don’t say:

              Katie was stultified as the lecturer pontificated.

              Rather, try:

              Katie found the lecture boring.

              Take out needless words

              edit your own bookWhen you write your first draft, the emphasis is on getting your ideas on paper. You should just let your ideas flow. To do that, you’ll probably use a lot of words to give them form. Now it’s time to delete the filler words.

              For example, you may have written:

              Smith took over the empty pilot seat in order to navigate around the mountain peak.

              You can tighten it like this:

              Smith took over the pilot seat to navigate the mountain peak.

              After all, we can guess that no one was in the seat when he sat down and of course you’d go around the mountain peak.

              Remove redundancies

              When you write your first draft, you may find that you’ve repeated yourself. This is the time to edit out those redundancies.

              For example, it is not uncommon for writers to write:

              he thought to himself.

              You can simply say:

              he thought.

              You can only think to yourself.

              Or if you wrote:

              She kicked him with her foot.

              You can edit it down to:

              She kicked him.

              We know it was with her foot.

              Check your “trouble words”

              Proofreading is part of editingThese are words that give you difficulty. Maybe you just can’t remember the spelling or the grammar rule. No worries, everyone has them.

              For instance, some people struggle with the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Or they have trouble remembering when to use “it’s” and “its.”

              Luckily, there are plenty of online resources and tools to help you with trouble words. But nothing beats finding these errors for yourself. So, keep a list of your trouble words handy and look out for them as you line edit your own book.


              You’ve made it through the editing phase of your book project. Now you can turn over your manuscript to one or two professional editors. Then it’s off to the printing presses, virtual or otherwise.

              If you have any questions or need help as you edit your book, please feel free to comment below or write me directly. And if you’re in the market to hire a ghostwriter, please check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

              Memoir or Autobiography or Biography?

              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 or an autobiography or a biographyA 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 need a little help with the process, please check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

              How Do I Communicate Through Writing?

              Communicate through writingDear Friendly Ghostwriter, I would love to write a book, but have trouble getting my thoughts down on paper. Whenever I write, I don’t feel it communicates what I’m trying to say. How do you get to the point where you can write something, and others understand what you intended to say? How do I communicate through writing? – Cole

              Cole, your question gets to the heart of writing. I think we can all forget sometimes that we’re simply working to communicate an idea to another person. That’s really all we are going for, right?

              To answer your question, here are a few ideas to help you get your point across.

              Summarize your message

              It’s a good idea to create a little summary of what you wish to communicate before you begin writing a piece. No matter the length of the piece, take the time to jot down your message and read it over before you begin your writing session. It will help keep you on point.

              Say you’re writing an article. You might summarize it simply by saying, “I want to teach someone how to braid their hair efficiently.” Or if you’re writing your memoir, you might be driven to share an overall message of “When you can forgive others and let go of your anger, you can find freedom and peace.”

              Noting this for yourself will help you share your communication with your readers.

              Know your reader

              communicate through writing and know your readershipIn order to communicate with another, you first need to understand who will be reading your book. You need to know your reader. Now, some writers make the mistake of saying that “everyone” is their reader. While some books might appeal to many people, you can’t write to everyone. It just doesn’t work. It’s too general.

              Pick a reader and write to that person. Maybe it’s a middle-aged woman with children or maybe it’s a high school kid in the gifted program. Maybe your readers are elderly people on a fixed income or maybe they are professional businesspeople. When you know your reader, you can communicate directly to them. It becomes personal and they feel it.

              Don’t try to impress anyone

              Communicate through writing the writer you are.Some writers feel they need to haul out the big words when they write. Why? I believe some people feel that they are being judged on the complexity of their writing. They’re trying to impress someone.

              It’s been my experience that it works best to write simply and from the heart. Use words that most people understand. Fluffing up your text with fancy imagery, long sentences, and sixty-four-dollar words often gets in the way of sharing your message with the reader.. Remember, writing is a form of communication. It doesn’t impress anyone if they can’t understand you or lose track of the message you wish to impart. Write to your readers as you would talk to a close friend.

              Find your voice

              We all can develop a written voice. It’s not a magical skill reserved for only the elite. After speaking to many writers over the years, I have learned that it takes professional writers a few hundred thousand words before they discover their written voice. It takes experience, sometimes trial and error. It takes patience and work.

              Cole, I suggest that you write an article and show it to your friends, people who fit into your readership. Ask them to give you feedback. Ask, then don’t speak. Whatever you do, don’t lead them or give out hints, but find out if you are able to communicate through writing to them. If you didn’t get your point across, try again. Then ask again. When people start understanding your written word without explanation, you’re on the right track.

              Keep writing. You’ll find your voice and you’ll learn to communicate your ideas on paper. It truly is an amazing art form! Of course, if any of my readers need the help and guidance of a ghostwriter, please feel free to email me!

              Additional resources you might find helpful:

              Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

              How to Create Three-Dimensional Characters

              Should I Fictionalize My Memoir?

              should I fictionalize my memoir?“I’ve been told by many friends that I should turn my life story into a book.” Does this sound familiar? The next question often is, “Should I fictionalize my memoir?”

              That’s a good question! And as you might guess, the answer really depends on you and your project.

              Most of the ghostwriting requests I get are from people who want to share their life story. It’s definitely a good indication if many people are pushing you in that direction.

              I will say that it’s always more appealing to readers to learn that a story is completely true (unaltered). Readers love stepping into the author’s shoes for that brief moment of their life. However, there are reasons why you might not be able to stick to the complete truth.

              Are you in the middle of this internal debate? If so, here are a few reasons why you might choose to fictionalize your memoir:

              Bluntly, your story just isn’t interesting enough.

              I tend to be rather straightforward, so I apologize if I’ve offended you. It’s just that there are stories that are fascinating and others which might make a good short story. They are really fodder for a good newspaper article or an anecdotal story for a cocktail party. If you need to add some content and pizzazz, consider turning your book into a novel that is inspired by your life story.

              You’d really like to add in a space ship or two.

              There are times when you might like to alter history a bit. Most fictionalized memoirs don’t enter the realm of science fiction, but there might be a few tales you wish to add to your story, which never really happened. When you do this, you cross a line and must call it what it is: a novel.

              Your family would never speak to you again if you aired your dirty laundry.

              It’s easy to disguise most people’s identities in your book by simply using another name. Some authors just use initials, like calling Dr. Quincy, Dr. Q. to protect the identity of a character. However, your brother is your brother and there is no way to get around that. Your family will know whom you’re talking about even if you call him by another name.

              You’re a stickler for details and it’s all just overwhelming.

              Deciding if you should fictionalize a memoirMost people fudge the facts a bit in a memoir, not worrying if Grand Central Station was truly crowded on Christmas Eve back in 1965. It’s hard to remember such a minor detail and the small handful of people that do probably won’t make a ruckus if you get it wrong. Still, if some of these facts are important to you and you don’t want to worry about getting them all correct, why not turn your memoir into a novel?

              Of course, in the end the decision to fictionalize your memoir is up to you. If you have a fascinating story, one that works as is, keep it nonfiction. When you can keep the real timeline in tact and still have a fascinating story, it’s the best course of action.

              Still unsure? Feel free to give me a email me if you need a sounding board!

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