Ask a Ghostwriter: How Can You Research a Memoir?

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Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, Hi Laura, I am 48. I need someone to write my life story. I read your article about hiring a ghostwriter and didn’t understand when you said that I would need to prepare work and research. What sort of research would I need to do? After all, it’s my real life story? How do I research a memoir? Thanks, Vi

Dear Vi, What a great question! Let me explain what I meant. Whenever I ghostwrite a memoir, I always do a lot of research on a number of subjects in order to get the background information needed to tell the story with authenticity. To properly answer your question, I think it would be good to explore what sort of research your writer might need to write your book. And while it is helpful for an author to provide research information to their writer, the ghost will also need to do extensive research on top of that. Ideally the author and ghostwriter will work together as a team to uncover needed information on a variety of subjects.

Time periods

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Memoirs take place in the past, often in a period long gone. For that reason, I like to research the culture of that epoch to ensure I describe it accurately. For instance, cell phones wouldn’t have been used in the 1980’s, so your characters would need to find payphones or use landlines to call one another. By the same token, the internet would have been in its infancy, so there would be no “surfing the web” day and night. Of course, you’ll also need to reflect the correct clothing styles of the era. When I write a book, I find myself looking up the details surrounding the scene so that I depict them realistically.

In addition, it can be helpful to refer to the current events of the time. For instance, if I’m writing a memoir taking place mid-September 1959, most households would probably be talking about the moon landing. Or if your book centers around a key moment at the end of 1989, you might mention the Berlin Wall falling, as that would have been a hot topic. Discussing those major milestones would be a good way to help the reader orient himself to the time periods in your story.

Locations

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Establishing the location is always important in any scene because it takes out the guesswork for the reader. That’s why I sometimes need to research places my characters will go. For instance, I had a client who described running down a major street near Miami. I wanted to get a feel for what the area would have looked like, so I used Google Earth and zoomed in to view the actual street. I learned it was an eight-lane highway and found there were lots of residential neighborhoods nearby. It helped me fill in the description.

Sometimes I will explore the homes I write about on the internet or through photos. Learning the layout helps me realistically put the kitchen next to the family room and the bedrooms upstairs (or not). Discovering the architectural style allows me to properly paint the picture with words. Sometimes I’ll do a search online to sneak a peek at the exterior of the home to get a feel for the front of the house. Of course, if the client has a photo of the place, that is very helpful.

When I can truly grasp the location, it helps me put myself in the space of the characters, which helps me write the story in an authentic way. I could make up details (and sometimes do), but it is wonderful when I can draw on researched facts.

Diaries, scrapbooks, and newspaper articles

When I research a memoir, some details comes in the form of firsthand recorded information. As a ghostwriter, the pages of personal diaries are like nuggets of gold. The words recorded years before provide information in a very organic way.

Likewise, newspaper clippings can help fill in missing pieces of important events, allowing me to understand more fully what happened. For instance, a wedding announcement would give the exact time and day of the event. This information allows me to look up the actual weather on that day. I’ll tell you, a wedding in the middle of a June thunderstorm is quite different from one that takes place in a heat wave.

One client had very little information about his ancestors, but wanted a story written about what could have happened. Through some online websites, I was able to determine the exact boat on which his grandfather arrived in New York in the mid 1800’s. My client had known the rough time period, so it was a joy to be able to discover the precise day, as well as the name of the ship. Then it was easy to research the boat to learn its size, crew compliment, and passenger list, all of which I could use to write faithful descriptions of the event.

So, Vi, research is an important part of any memoir. If you and I worked together, we’d be a team, tackling this vital area. So, consider collecting journal entries, newspaper clippings, photographs, and perhaps short biographies of the main players that will be featured in your book.

I’d love to hear from other writers on the subject. How did you research a memoir?

Do You Need Help Writing a Book?

Many people have a great story idea, but need help writing a book. It takes discipline and experience to write a book that others will want to read (and can’t put down). If you’re not a professional writer, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the idea you have of sharing your story with the world. You have options:

Improve your writing skills

You’ve decided to write the book yourself. That’s wonderful! Now it is time to gain experience. Write and write and write, and then write some more. It will probably take you a few hundred thousand words to find your own voice.

What should you write?

Anything and everything!

Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. Describe objects in your home or people you know. Record family stories or funny incidents that happen to you. Write a love letter to your partner. Jot down that silly bedtime story you made up for your child. The more you write, the easier you will find it to get the ideas out of your head and down on paper.

It is a good idea to read books on how to write. These will teach you basic techniques that will allow you to bring your thoughts to life.

And definitely read the works of other authors. Notice how they tackle challenging scenes. How do they approach dialogue? How do they incorporate descriptions? When you find a passage you particularly like, dissect it and see how they were able to communicate their vision to you.

Now that you have improved your writing skills, tackle that story! For more information on how to get started writing your book, check out my Ask a Ghostwriter series.

Hire a writing coach

If you want to write your own book, but feel you don’t have the experience and skill set to do so, you can hire a writing coach. This person’s job will be to provide guidance as you navigate your project. With this option, you will still do all the writing; you’ll just have a guardian angel on your shoulder.

Find a successful writer to coach you. If she has never written a book, she is unlikely to know the process and will not be able to guide you in the right direction.

It’s a good idea to lay out your writing goals early on. Share them with your coach and ask her to keep you accountable for them.

Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll need to pay them for their time. I charge $145 per hour to coach.

Hire a Ghostwriter

If you’d rather hire someone else to completely write your book then simply make comments or edits on their work, find a good ghostwriter to help you. Of course, this is the most expensive choice, but it’s also the least time consuming one. Having said that, you’ll need to put in time providing important research information in the beginning and definitely earmark time to review the work as it is written.

If you have limited time and a low budget, you might consider hiring a ghostwriter to write a novella. A novella is a shorter book, usually about 100 pages long, and will only run $25,000.

Once you have your finished book, plan to spend a little extra money on an editor to polish it up and do your proofreading. Personally, I include editing in my pricing (and always hire an outside professional to read my book with an expert eye), but not all ghostwriters do.

So, as you see, there are options for you to get help writing your book. If you need help sorting through these choices, please don’t hesitate to email me for a consultation!

You CAN Write a Novel, Memoir or How-to Book

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After talking to countless people over the years, I truly believe that every person has at least one story to share. Do you? Perhaps you have an account of a memorable trip trudging through the Amazon rainforest with only a backpack. Or maybe your family immigrated to America a decade ago and found success through hard work. Or perhaps you wish to chronicle your meteoric rise in eCommerce in 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. Whether fact or fiction, 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

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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.

Memoir

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.

Novel

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.

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.

How-to book

When I’m writing a how-to book, and 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.

Fiction

Research 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 put your book together, 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.

Improve Your Writing: Feedback Versus Criticism

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As a writer, you do need proper feedback to improve your writing. However, you don’t need criticism. There’s a difference.

Advice is so vital for writers. We want to know that we’re communicating our thoughts clearly and efficiently. Personally, I have worked with a number of editors over the years and really enjoy their excellent feedback. When done correctly, it helps me grow and expand my abilities.

Yes, I’m still learning. I will always be doing so.

However, some people seem hell-bent on stamping the life out of an author. Unfortunately, artists of many ilk are criticized mercilessly. Sometimes it feels like it is open season on filmmakers, fine painters, etc. It’s tough to endure.

I’ve been quite fortunate to continually be surrounded by positive people, who share their opinion in a supportive way. I always want to know if something I write isn’t up to par, but I prefer not to be crushed in the process.

Feedback should include the good

When I am asked to give a critique on someone’s writing, I always include the good points first. What did I like about the piece? What really worked? There’s always something positive to say. It helps to reinforce their strengths.

I’ve noticed that some people only zero in on the errors, the mistakes, and the missteps. It leaves the author with the impression that their work is no good and it can cause them to quit.

If you receive such an evaluation, try asking, “Was there anything you liked about it?” Some people hold back on the compliments. Maybe that’s because their work was sliced to ribbons when they were starting out and they think that’s appropriate. Maybe it’s for another reason. However, it’s good to help these people break that cycle by getting them to notice and discuss the plusses of your piece to improve your writing.

Recognizing a nasty critic

It’s helpful to be able to spot critical people. They are the ones who love to tear a piece to shreds, leaving very little intact. Their purpose isn’t to improve the writer’s ability to write, but rather to take joy in setting a fledgling author back a few paces.

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Again, these poor souls were probably criticized heavily when they were first starting out. When an artist is stretching their creative wings for the first time, they are in a very vulnerable stage. If their attempts were smashed early on, they may have just given up completely. The harsh critics of today are most likely the failed artists of yesterday. Bitter and filled with unfulfilled goals, they lash out at others.

So, how do you recognize a critic? Pay attention to how you feel after reading their comments. If you feel worthless and want to quit writing, ignore their “advice.” Trust me, they don’t have your best interest at heart.

Mentors vs Critics

So, how do you know if you’re going to be torn apart by razor-sharp teeth or if you might just get a kernel of inspiration that will nudge you forward toward great writing? It’s simply knowing the difference between a mentor and a critic.

Look for the purpose behind the advice. You can often tell if someone is trying to help or hurt by the words they use. Mentors will always point out errors in a way that makes sense and encourages at the same. They recognize every artist starts somewhere. Critics, on the other hand, have no such concern and can be rather harsh in their language.

For instance, nasty critics love to say, “Don’t quit your day job!” Boy, do I hate that invalidating phrase. What benefit does that little nugget offer? We all know we need to put food on the table, but everyone should expand their horizons and reach for the stars! Why not? Besides, if you don’t like your day job, it’s a good idea to work toward changing it, right? I mean, you should do what you enjoy doing in life!

You can also recognize good mentors, because they will read over your work and give you subtle guidance to improve your writing. They won’t overload you with dozens of problems to fix. Rather, they will focus on one common issue, guiding you toward solutions that you can discover on your own.

Take the bad feedback with the good

While encouragement is crucial to a writer’s development, it doesn’t help him or her to only get a lot of pats on the back. If you show your work exclusively to family and friends, they might not want to tell you how they really feel. They care about you and don’t want to hurt your feelings.

When I get feedback along the lines of “It’s good!” it might make me feel good, but I’m looking for more. I’ll ask a few questions like:

Why is it good?

What did you like best?

Was there anything you didn’t care for?

Did you understand everything?

These questions pour out of me.

Of course, it feels great to get rave reviews and hearty pats on the back, but in the end you need to also hear the bad with the good or it isn’t terribly helpful.

Keep in mind that the biggest way you can improve your writing is to write. Yes, that’s basic advice, I know. Any writer’s first words are an experiment in communication. Trial and error, along with research (reading good books) is the best way I know to learn the craft. Surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you in that direction. If you find that someone’s advice makes you want to stop, just realize that they are probably a critic and find a new advisor!

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Can I Add Descriptions in a Book?

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I am your average Joe. And I won’t call myself a writer by any means. Though I wrote a book because the idea was stuck in my head. I had ten people read and edit it. Then I self-published it through Author House. I know it has potential, but I was told I need more descriptions in a book. I wrote for a fast read and people say it’s too fast. So, now I’m lost and know I need help. I can’t afford those big bucks ghostwriters. What do I do?

D.T.

Dear D.T.,

Congratulations on writing your first book!

You are absolutely a writer. Don’t sell yourself short.

As I’ve stated in a few places on my blog, I truly believe that everyone has at least one book within them. It takes a lot of courage to take that idea that you have stuck in your head and put it down on paper. By sharing our stories, it brings us all closer, making the world a little brighter.

Your question is wonderful. Let’s get into the subject of the art of storytelling through using descriptions in a book.

The importance of descriptions in a book

As an author, you want to help people feel they are smack in the middle of the adventure you’re sharing. For instance, when you’re sharing a memoir experience, proper descriptions will allow your reader to feel what you felt, see what you saw, etc. If you don’t help set the stage, people will be lost.

If you’re spinning a yarn (telling a fictional story) good description helps the reader visualize what you create. After all, as a novelist, you are often creating new worlds to explore or transporting people to a different era or culture. It’s fun!

Don’t overdo it

In this fast-paced world we like to keep things moving along. This especially applies to books. Readers really need you to get to the point. If the author spends two pages describing the food at a buffet, readers will often skip over those pages. If that happens too often, they’ll put the book down. Very few people have the time or interest to read through pages or even paragraphs of flowery explanations of the way things look.

Find a way to give just enough descriptions of the people, places and things in your story to help your reader truly understand what you are sharing. Too little and they’ll be confused, too much, and they’ll get bored. I know, it’s not easy. Writing takes experience. You’ll get the hang of it!

Identify the mood

I like to break my stories into incidents. In each scene there are characters that perform specific actions to accomplish a goal. So, read over your story and isolate all the individual incidents.

Now, select one. What is the mood of that event? Is a married couple arguing over money? Is a corrupt businessman afraid of the intern who is threatening to expose him? Name the mood, then look for places where you can amplify it with some descriptive words to complement your intention.

For instance, angry scenes can be punctuated with shorter sentences and violent gestures. People tend to cross their arms, their faces become flushed or red involuntarily, and they sometimes clench their jaw. There are a ton of mannerisms you can describe. These help the reader understand the emotions involved.

Use your senses

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Writing instructors often recommend that you make a chart of sensory words you could use to describe something. So, let’s say you want to describe that corrupt businessman. List out some of your senses and find words that describe your character or environment. For example, smells associated with the corrupt man might be stale cigarette smoke, musky cologne, or old sweat. Sounds could include a raspy cough, or the clink of the coins he rubs together when he’s nervous. You get the idea.

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It’s a good idea to hone your senses so you can write more vivid passages. Go out to a variety of places (eg: the mall, a forest, a busy street intersection, a supermarket, etc.) and just observe. How do they make you feel? When you close your eyes, what to you hear? What do you smell? Use all your sense and keep notes in a log.

Show don’t tell

I know I’ve mentioned this axiom (show don’t tell) a zillion times in my blog (not exaggerating), but honestly this is a cardinal rule in writing. Your readers want to see the story unfold. When I write, I imagine my story as a movie. This helps me avoid explaining things or being too vague. After all, when I write a screenplay, I can’t “explain” anything with descriptive passages. It all needs to be told through action and dialogue.

To illustrate, I’ll continue with the corrupt businessman example. Let’s say you want to show that he’s scared. You could just write, “He was scared.” However, that really doesn’t help the reader slip into the moment with you. Here’s another approach: “His throat was so dry, he could barely swallow. Small beads of sweat dripped down his back as he clutched his hands in his lap to stop them from trembling.”

Which do you find more effective in putting you smack dab in the middle of his fear?

Which one shows the emotion properly?

Descriptions in a book should show rather than tell the reader what you wish to share.

You have already done the hard work, D.T. Bravo! It sounds to me like you have the action down. Now you can round it out by adding a few descriptive details. Have fun with it!

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Do I Communicate Through Writing?

Dear 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

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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

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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

In 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

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!

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

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash

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.

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.