Why a Creative Ghostwriter?

A question has been posed to me recently:  “Why would I want a ghostwriter who’s creative?”

I can understand the mentality behind this question. Wouldn’t creativity on the part of the ghostwriter stomp all over the voice of the piece’s author? Wouldn’t it seemed contrived, particularly to those who have read things the author’s written in the past? Or to those who have made stereotypical assumptions about the type of voice the author should have?

I suppose the answer to the question should be something like, “Yes, a professional ghostwriter should be creative-minded.” Why? There are a few reasons:

1) Problem Solving: Roadblocks litter the path to objectives, and often, an author isn’t equipped to hurdle them. That doesn’t mean that he or she in incapable; it simply means that a bit of creative thinking might be necessary for overcoming one or more of these barricades.

2) Perspective Shift:  Because the author has been working as an administrator of some type of service in his or her own respective field, he or she likely has one perspective — the one from inside the lab coat, inside the batter’s box, or at the switch inside the execution room. What’s it like to be on the cold end of the stethoscope? Or on the mound? Or on the outside of the viewing glass? Maybe it won’t be appropriate to include these perspectives in the author’s story, but the creativity necessary for real or imagined empathy (or the ambition for seeking out those points of view) is necessary for delivering a finished product that will appeal to a larger number of viewpoints.

3) Idea Expansion: Every great idea holds the potential to be even better. When you add a creative mind to the mix, what you get might be something you never expected.

4) Willingness: Remember that creative minds are also open minds. In order to experience the satisfaction that comes with successful conceptualization, the creative mind is naturally more willing to allow masses of information to enter without bias. It is also more adept at spitting out a product not unlike a delicious dish that prompts the question, “What’s in this? I’m going to need the recipe.”

5) Professionalism: Finally, I should touch on the implication that I made earlier. A professional (in attitude and experience) ghostwriter will refuse to bastardize the concepts put forth by the author. The creative ghostwriter will distinctively expand upon ideas, make them digestible, use them to inform and/or entertain, and do it all while making the author feel that what’s on paper belongs to him or her…because it does.

Of course, creativity is a relative term, and every human possesses some degree of creativity. Those degrees vary when manifested, due in part to opportunity and to the evaluator’s criteria. No matter how you define creativity, the introduction of another mind to any project, when handled judiciously by the newcomer, can only enhance what you have to offer. Without creativity, a ghostwriter is not a ghostwriter at all — he or she is an editor.

Food for Fiction: Newspaper Funnies

Where do you get your short story and novel ideas? No matter your chosen genre, you might look to authentic life for subject matter…and where better to find real life than in the newspaper? There, you’ll find the best, and most often the worst, of this pack we call humanity. When I have the occasion to generate a short story (the bills aren’t stopping, and therefore neither is my ghostwriting), I like to consult local and national newspapers for help with sparking story ideas.  Today, I stumbled across some funny headlines and couldn’t help searching for some of their twisted cousins. Here are my favorites:

  • One-armed man applauds the kindness of strangers
  • Caskets found as workers demolish mausoleum
  • Alton attorney accidentally sues himself
  • Condom truck tips, spills load
  • Man eats underwear to beat breathalyzer
  • Sewage spill kills fish, but water safe to drink
  • Panda mating fails; veterinarian takes over
  • Marijuana issue sent to joint committee
  • Students cook & serve grandparents
  • Hippo eats dwarf
  • Lost:  African elephant
  • Topeka cemetery clean-up in need of volunteers:  A light lunch to follow provided by Waste Management of Kansas
  • Tight end returns after colon surgery
  • Miracle cure kills fifth patient
  • All you need to know about Obama’s package
  • A-Rod goes deep, Wang hurt
  • Hooker named lay person of the year
  • Blind man denied Minn. gun permit
  • Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25

Deeper probing took me to the police blotters:

  • A deputy responds to a report of a vehicle stopping at mail boxes. It was the mailman.
  • Wal-Mart: Police receive a report of a newborn infant found in a trash can. Upon investigation, officers discover it was only a burrito.
  • The Learning Center on Hanson Street reports a man across the way stands at his window for hours watching the center, making parents nervous. Police ID the subject as a cardboard cutout of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And I have to give proper credit to the classifieds:

  • Human skull, used once only. Not plastic. $200 OBO
  • Full size mattress, Royal Tonic, 20 year warranty. Like new. Slight urine smell. $40
  • Potty chair, solid oak, light brown stain

Quick — grab a pen. By the time your diaphragm stops cramping, you’ll have come up with a storyline involving a Hannibal-Lecter-wanna-be mailman who delivers special-recipe burritos, or a veterinarian who learns to embrace both the yin and the yang. Come on — if you write it, I’ll read it.

Should you Lie or Lay?

The decision to use lie or lay can bring my editing to an abrupt halt. Which one is it? They both sound right. Should I refer to song lyrics for the answer? Once I learned the present-tense usage for each, I was then faced with the hurdle of transporting each into the past. I added Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips Lay versus Lie page to my […]

Wanted: Fiction Ghostwriter

I’ve been contacted by a few people recently about ghostwriting their novels.  I’d like to take this opportunity to give a loud and collective, “No, thank you,” to anyone who is looking to have this type of work done, and if you read on, you’ll learn why. It has been assumed that I won’t ghostwrite […]

My Heart is a Book

I’ve written more than one book review about Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, so doing that again and adding to the gargantuan web pile of reviews might be redundant, if not ridiculous. So instead, I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve learned about the author. I’ve been to two Zusak speaking engagements, one […]

Nothing to Write with

If I disjoint my vision, bid it stop searching for a glimmer in the blackness or a curvature on which to land, I’ll see. If I can stop my panicked ears from grasping out for some sound, any tumult, no matter how small, I’ll hear. If I take away food, if I allow my mouth to cleave […]

Do Writers Get Days Off?

Is a writer permitted to make lots of elementary mistakes in arbitrary written communication?  Surely. Do others (no matter their credentials) have the right to correct grammatical errors made by an unsuspecting, off-duty, writer? Definitely. Should either do either? No. Before I piss a whole bunch of people off, allow me to make one thing clear: I make […]