Ghost Writer

I ‘met’ Karen Cole on Twitter. She is chief executive of Ghost Writer Inc. When she offered to do a guest post for Write Enough, I was delighted to accept. I had only a hazy idea of what ghost writers do until I read her post. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Hiring a Ghost Writer – for Clients

By Karen Cole

Many people nowadays have websites, and they need to have professional content written for them. In order to do that, they will need to hire ghost writers. The fact is that ghost writers are people who are specialized in writing any piece of work, as long as it involves information that is easily accessible on the internet. Upon completion of their projects, the ghost writers will be paid for the pieces they have written, yet they will not be given any credit by the buyer.

How to hire ghost writers:

1. First of all, clients need to define the scope of their ghost writing projects. Buyers who hire ghost writers must be specific about the topics they want the ghost writers to research and write about, the number of words the projects will contain, the styles of the pieces, and if the buyers have special instructions, they should tell the ghost writers about them. Depending on the number of words the buyers request, the ghost writers will charge them accordingly.

2. It could be that the buyers will hire ghost writers who have experience within their niches. This will further increase the prices of their projects, so they need to be aware of this. Such ghost writers are perfect for those looking to have ebooks written, as well as printed books and screenplays. If the topics are highly technical, hiring ghost writers who are proficient at ghost writing in such styles is recommended.

3. Coming up with a realistic budget for each project must be considered. The budgets should allow buyers to get the best
ghost writers. More experienced ghost writers will charge more than newbies. Success will depend on the expertise of the ghost writers, and that is why hiring experienced ones should be a priority.

4. Before hiring any ghost writers, it’s recommended that people check out their portfolios and also references, if they can find them on the Internet. This way, buyers can assess the skills of those ghost writers and decide whether or not to go with their ghost writing services.

5. Last but not least, if the buyers agree to hire one or more ghost writers, contracts must be drawn up. Each one must specify who gets the rights and recognition for the work, the method of payment, and the total cost of each project.

Finding ghost writers is not hard, but it requires buyers to do some research before going with a ghost writing service. Choosing ghost writers who don’t have experience in needed subject matters and hoping for them to deliver quality ghost writing work at low prices is unrealistic and should not be attempted. The quality of ghost writers is always more important than a few extra dollars.

You can find Karen on twitter at @karencole37

And here’s the link if you want to investigate Karen’s services further. http://www.rainbowriting.com/ghostwriterportfolio.htm

A River of Stones January 2012 – a mindful writing challenge

Last January I took part in ‘a River of Stones’ (aros) and I posted my ‘stones’ here on the blog and on Twitter. And this January, I’ll be taking part again. It’s actually my intention to do an ‘independent’ advent series from Dec 1st – not as part of the official river – but borrowing the concept.

You can find out all about the aros project at http://www.writingourwayhome.com/p/river-jan-12.html  Here’s what  Fiona Robyn, a founding partner, at the ‘writing our way home’ website said on Facebook when launching this year’s river.

‘Pay more attention and fall in love with the world. Join our mindful writing challenge, ‘a river of stones’, in January ’12. Here’s how: 1. Notice something properly every day during January. 2. Write it down. Easy peasy! Will you join us? … You’ll create a ‘small stone’ every day when you pay proper attention to something (a cloudy sky, or your cat leaping lightly across the lawn) and then write it down as accurately as you can. Writing small stones will help you to engage with the world around you – to enjoy every sip of your black coffee, to savour the scent of lemon wafting around your kitchen, to appreciate the grungy sliminess of your compost pile. You can post your small stones on a blog or Twitter, or keep them in a notebook. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to keep your eyes, nose, ears, mouth, mind and fingers open. Who knows what you’ll find… Get your funky blog badge and find out all about the challenge here: http://www.writingourwayhome.com/p/river-jan-12.html Do invite your friends – the more the merrier. Last year we had 350 people take part from around the world. This year we’d love the river to be MUCH wider….’
You don’t have to be writer to take part and you don’t even have to publish your stones anywhere –  apart from in your own notebook. I look forward to seeing some of you down by the riverside…

Want to write a novel – Just Do It (3). Hatch that plot.

mindmap [RE]Design
Image by Denkbeeldhouwer via Flickr

So here’s part 3 in my series of posts for beginner writers…

Plotting

Right, where were we? We’d got started on the novel –
overcome the self-doubt and procrastination. We’d fallen in love with our
characters and breathed life into them.

So what now? What are you going to have these characters do?
What is going to happen to them? How will you introduce them to your readers? What
will their journey be?

First of all – the thing about plotting is that there is no
one correct way to do it. It’s like cooking – everyone has their own take on
methods – even where the ingredients and the outcome are similar. My mother and
my mother-in-law were both superb bakers – meringues to die for – but they used
two quite different procedures to create them. One baked them in an oven – the
French way – and the other plopped the beaten egg whites into boiling water –
the Italian way. And that’s how it is with plotting – you do what works for
you. Below are just three of the ways – you might only ever use one of them, or
you may change method depending on the novel, or you may mix and match – or you
may do none of them in any conscious way and simply write, improvising as you
go. But if cooking without a recipe scares you, you may find what follows
useful.

First up – you might like a linear layout when planning – one
scene heading, followed by the next, and the next and so on. This will work
well if you already have a clear idea of how your story is to develop. You
might follow the heading with notes on the action within the scene. It will all
run down the page – in portrait layout – beginning, middle and end all sorted.

Or you may do the above – but with only a definite start and
end point already planned – and fill in the scenes in between as you think it
all through.

However, it may be that you don’t have scenes as such. It
could be that you have fragments – an assortment of images – of experiences and
occurrences for your characters. Perhaps then you can storyboard. That is write
and/or draw out these images on cards. Then lay them out, swap them round, see
where the gaps are, do cards to fill the gaps. As you ponder the gaps you will
probably find you begin to ask yourself, and answer, all the why questions
about your plot, about what is driving it. You must be able to answer the
question as to why a particular scene is there.
If you can’t, then discard it. It’s superfluous. You’ll also start to
resolve the ‘how’ questions as you move from card to card. Perhaps new
characters and ideas will emerge as you work. Perhaps a timeline or natural
order may start to emerge.  You may well
see a sort of clustering, or coming together,  of scenes at certain points – these will
provide your ‘jumpcuts’ and chapter breaks – and you may well discard some
in-between scenes altogether.

And then there’s a third way. That is the mind-map, spider
diagram or cluster plotting method. Here think landscape rather than portrait.
Take a sheet of A4, or even, A3 paper and write your novel’s working title in
the middle and draw a box or cloud shape around what you’ve written. Now do
several short lines coming off this central box or blob. At the end of these
lines write, or indeed, draw the key scenes, images or events you already have
in your head. Draw a box around each of these. Then see if you can extend any
of these scene/event boxes with blobs of their own. You can continue branching
off as much as you like. It should become obvious which are the meatier scenes,
which ones are sparking off possible subplots. The more substantial plot blobs
or boxes will be the ones you’ll probably allocate most words to. You may well
also see how the scenes should link up and perhaps begin to see an order of
events. And as with the other methods you will probably find scenes that are so
insubstantial they can be dropped altogether.

Whatever plotting method you use you will need to peg your
scenes to a story arc. Your plot must serve as a roadmap for the characters’
actions. It must bring your characters together at just the right moment. You
need to decide on your opening scene, on where your telling will begin. The
plot will almost certainly begin long before your story does. You will weave in
any relevant pre-details as you tell the story. Your start point should be
where the characters’ backstories become nowstories. So looking at your plan –
linear, storyboard or mind-map, you will need to move those scenes around –
number them, arrow them, or change their order in the pile.

It doesn’t matter if you open your story at the end and tell
it as flashback or if you begin at the middle and flashback and move forward –
or if you simply drive forward. However there is a classic set of ingredients
that the story arc should probably contain and that is:

1.Stasis – once upon a time

2.Trigger – the unpredictable event

3.Quest – the protagonist(s) begins to seek

4.Surprise – discovers the unexpected

5.Critical choice – difficult decision

6.Climax – the consequence of 5

7.Reversal – change of status

8.Resolution – acceptance of new state.

But the most important thing of all about the plotting stage
is to just go for it. Don’t pause or censor or edit – that will come when you
have all your scenes before you. Enjoy this very creative phase of pre-writing
– rule nothing in or out.

Have Fun!

N.B. There is an excellent post and youtube video on cluster
plotting at http://johannaharness.com/2010/10/21/clusterplotting.
If you’re a writer who uses twitter, you will almost certainly have heard of
Johanna. She is the person behind the #amwriting hashtag and won last year’s
inaugural Chris Al-Aswad prize awarded by Eight Cuts.

So you want to be a writer – Just Do It

Photo of keyboard and pen
Image via Wikipedia

Just Do It…

Part One

Getting started as a writer

Do you fancy being a writer of fiction? Have you got the new
notebook and pen – or do you have a new, but empty, folder labelled My Writing on your computer? Do you have
a few ideas of what you might write? Are you finding it impossible to get
started?

Procrastination – the old, obstructive enemy of even the
most experienced author. It might present itself as the devil on the shoulder,
taunting the writer with jibes about lack of ability and about wasting time.
Or, wily enemy that it is, it will often portray itself as a concerned friend.
It will respectfully present other priorities more deserving of the writer’s
time. Or it will insist that the writer is too tired to take up a pen or sit at
a screen. It will soothe the self-doubter, saying don’t put yourself through
this painful process – it’s not worth it – all that rejection and
misunderstanding.

I am a recovering procrastinator and my experience is proof
that even the most naive novice writer can beat the ‘P’ word.

I have wanted to be a ‘proper’ writer since I was at school.
I am now in my fifties – and it’s only in the last ten years that I’ve taken it
seriously. It’s true, I’ve always kept a diary and I’ve also written travel
journals about time spent in the Middle East, Africa and Australia. But it
wasn’t until 2000 that I began to write in a truly creative, imaginative and
sustained way.

Why did it take me so long? Well, you see, I had such a busy
life – professionally, and as a wife and mother – and, besides, ordinary people
like me couldn’t be writers, could they? It would be pretentious, delusional, and
ridiculous to even try.

But as the new century began, I kicked the procrastination
demon into touch. For me it was a brush with mortality that presented the now
or never ultimatum. Putting things off till tomorrow was no longer an option.
Yes, all very dramatic, I know, – but like Fay Weldon said recently in a radio
interview – too many people live as if they’re immortal. She didn’t mean we should
be morbid, but we should seize the day.

If you want to write, just get on and do it. Cliché warningthe longest journeys begin with a small step – cliché, but true. Therefore
if you’re contemplating starting out, start simple. Write a letter, a diary
entry, a short story, a first chapter.

Build writing into your day – like the gym session, the
meeting with friends, the dental appointment – find the time, even if it’s only
half an hour a day, or a week, or a month – and put it in the diary. Keep the
appointment with your muse and enjoy it.

And keep at it. Set about improving. There are various ways
to go about this. You could take a writing course, read a writing manual,
subscribe to a writing magazine, join a writers’ group – real or online.  I did all of these and all were helpful in
different ways.  Three specific things
worked especially well for me. Attending an Arvon Foundation residential
writing course got me started. My development as a writer continued when I
joined http://www.youwriteon.com .   Joining this online community led to
significant improvements in my writing and I now have a group of trusted
writing buddies as a result. And the deadlines provided by entering writing
competitions gave me goals to aim for and kept the indulgence in displacement
activities to a minimum.

Ten years on, I’ve completed one novel for adults and am
writing a second. I also have an outline for a children’s novel and I’ve won
several prizes. Although I’d explode with delight if it became possible to do
so, writing is not how I earn my living. I have a rewarding and demanding day
job and writing is how I spend my me-time.

Procrastination is no longer a problem because I can’t
imagine my life without writing.

It’s an escape, it’s
therapy, it’s scary, it’s exhilarating, it’s addictive. My only regret is that
I didn’t take it up sooner.

So, if you’re attracted to writing as a hobby – go for it. Kick
the ass of procrastination

Feel the fear, carpe diem and do it. Above all – enjoy!

In subsequent posts
I’ll be offering advice, in my exalted capacity as an expert novice, on
characterisation, plotting, settings – and anything else that I can think of
that I’ve learned that might be of use to complete novice writers of fiction.   

When the Muse Downs Tools Mid-Shift

The Muse
Image via Wikipedia

System failure? No Signal? Use the Down Time.

You’re working on your latest novel. The plot, characters and setting are all worked out. Voice and atmosphere are established. It’s all flowing well – until that is, something causes the whole process to seize. It’s the equivalent of the blue computer screen or the ‘no service’ message on your mobile phone.

LesCorsetsLeFuretParis18cutA
Image via Wikipedia

 

It’s not writers’ block. You’ve still got ideas and motivation, but something is jamming the transmission from brain to page. The inbox is full but you can’t retrieve any of it.

It was a fellow writer, Cathryn Louis, whom I met on Twitter, who posed the problem. Cathryn (@CathrynLouis)  http://www.cathrynlouis.com made a plea, via twee,t for advice as to what to do when her ideas vanished  mid-sentence whilst working on her novel.

And round about the same time, another writer and Twitter friend Nettie Thomson, (@NettieWriter) http://nettiethomson.com  put a post on her blog about ideas being like buses, i.e. all arriving at once after a long time of no-show. Nettie pointed out that it’s often the case that when you’re busy working on one project, ideas for several other pieces start to appear. Now while this is inconvenient and distracting, I suspect the phenomenon can be used to solve the sudden signal failure problem.

When you experience a loss of service, you need to divert your brainwaves elsewhere. Leave your subconscious to ponder away on the work-in-progress. Trick your brain by being busy doing other writing stuff, or, even – gasp – non-writing stuff.

Such as:

  • Write a piece of flash fiction. This is sprint rather than a marathon and is good cross-training for a novelist. Pick something you can see as your stimulus – the scissors on your desk, the desk itself, your footwear, an ornament on the shelf – anything… Set your word/time limit and go.
  • Write an opening chapter or short story in a genre you wouldn’t normally work in. So if you’re a writer of romantic fiction, try sci-fi for example.
  • Write a letter to a loved one – alive or dead – telling them what they mean to you.
  • Write a review of the last book you read
  • Write down your earliest memory – use all your senses to recall the time – perhaps write it as a poem
  • Go for a long, hot bath.
  • Go for a walk or a run or a swim
  • Dig the garden
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate

The above is far from being a comprehensive list, but I hope you get the idea. AND the above is NOT procrastination. You are a writer all the time – even when you’re not actually writing. Don’t beat yourself up when you take timeout from the work-in-progress.

Let your creative processors do their maintenance and updates without intervention or force from you. You’ll only cause a complete crash if you don’t. And total writers’ block may well ensue.

When it’s ready your system will reboot and you should gain access to all your files again. And in the meantime you can enjoy a spell of letting go and letting be.

Christopher Al- Aswad Award Winner

Image representing Escape into Life as depicte...
Image via CrunchBase

The first ever winner of the Christopher Al- Aswad prize has just been announced. This annual award was set up by Dan Holloway at Eight Cuts http://eightcuts.wordpress.com and it is intended to honour and commemorate the life of a very special young man who died in July this year, aged just 31. Christopher set up Escape Into Life  a community where barriers in the arts and literature could be broken down. He was a visionary artist and writer. You can read the beautiful tribute to him on the Escape Into Life site. Make sure to read his poem ‘The Pleasures are Fleeting’ – heartbreaking and heartlifting.  And apart from reading the tribute, you’ll be able to see the poetry, pictures and collages created by the members and to read about the amazing Moleskine Project.

 The prize is “for outstanding contribution to breaking down barriers in literature and between literature and other arts.” And the inaugural winner is – Johanna Harness, the founder of #amwriting.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Johanna describes #amwriting as an ongoing chat amongst a community of writers who care about one another. She likens it to a water-cooler. It’s a gathering place where writers can pop in and out during their writing day. There they can say what they’re writing or share concerns, blocks and queries about the writing process. It’s reckoned there are more than 2000 writers using the #amwriting tag.

But there’s more to the concept than the hashtag on Twitter. There’s a website http://www.amwriters.com On the site, besides an Amazon linked #amwriters store, there’s also the opportunity to view and apply for listing in the #amwriting directory.

Johanna is, of course, a writer herself and she also has a new writing blog (begun in June this year) at http://johannaharness.com/blog    Here you can read about her own writing – as an author of YA and flash fiction.

So, what are the barriers that #amwriting seeks to breakdown?

Well  – they may be barriers of the writers’ own making – writing so often involves self-imposed exile and a siege mentality. The solitude required by writers can be a blessing when the mood and motivation are high, but it can also leave room for self-doubt and feelings of isolation. Having a staff room of supportive colleagues to check into is something to be cherished.

The barriers may be between writers – we can be a bit of a precious bunch, can’t we – defending our own areas whilst dismissing those of others? The genre writers versus the literary, fiction or non, prose versus poetry, shorts or novels, traditionally published as opposed to independent, journalist or academic – we like everyone safely boxed in. We can be overly judgemental and hyper-critical – of ourselves and others. And, as for those who won’t/can’t be pigeon-holed – artists who write, writers who make films, poets who write music…The #amwriting mentality has no truck with any of that – if you write – you’re a writer.

On the other hand the barriers may be between writers and their audience. We need to get our work ‘out there’. We need a network and we need outlets. The #amwriting community provides that too – the directory, the store, the support.

 And in case you’re not convinced about Johanna’s axe-wielding powers – I’ll let her words speak for themselves…

‘I don’t care if you write fiction or non-fiction, if you’re pre-published or published, if you’re traditionally or independently published, If you’re non-agented or agented, if you’re a blogger or a novelist or a reporter or a business writer.  *Pausing here to gasp for air*  I don’t care what you write or how you write it. I don’t care if you’re a planner or a pantster. I don’t care how much formal education you’ve completed. I don’t care how old you are or how long you’ve been writing, if you’re a newbie or a sage.  You don’t have to prove your credentials to be included.  You do, however, have to show up and write alongside other writers on twitter.  You have to say, “Here I am. I’m writing too.”  -And we say “welcome.”  That’s all there is.  It’s what we do.’

All the best and Slàinte Mhath to Johanna – and to all present and future members of #amwriting.

P.S. Johanna tells me she has plans to further develop #amwriting during the next year and she has agreed to do a guest blog here at Write Enough in December.

Tony Blair and The Third Pig Detective Agency…

…are just two of the features in the latest edition of  Words with Jam

OCTOBER ISSUE OUT NOW.

Go to http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/currentissue to see the latest edition of this fantastic FREE e-zine about writers and writing.

“As well as Tony Blair On Himself, cover author, Bob Burke, talks about his path to publication; David Robinson explores the advantages of e-book as a medium for your work; we are pleased to have been asked once again to feature the results for the second quarter of Flash 500, and there’s an article on How Not to Lose Friends and Alienate People. 
Not to be missed, Catriona Troth has some tips on getting the most from your library card. There’s more satirical letters in Dear Ed. Manager of the Canterbury branch of Waterstones tells us why bookshops WILL survive. And Anne Stormont comes back with part two of Just Do It.
Gillian Hamer explores the phenomenon that is Stieg Larsson; Danny Gillan gives us a piece on The Right to Write as well as another Comp Corner challenge to stretch us; and Michelle Romaine explains Microsoft Word’s Track Changes with a quick How To guide. 
Oh, and Perry finally reveals what happened to his cat …”

So You Want to be a Writer – Five Steps to Writing Heaven

First draft is just the beginning

1. So you’ve decided to be a writer of novels. You’ve maybe taken a class or a course. You’ve read a couple of  ‘how to’ manuals. You have an idea for a story. You understand about ‘character’,’ plotting’,’ setting’  ‘point of view’ and ‘voice’. You go for it and over weeks, months, years you get the story written. You write ‘The End’ and put it away for a month or so to let it ‘drain’ or ‘simmer’ – (pick your metaphor). 

2. Then you retrieve it. You share it with other writers, get feedback – and on this point I can’t recommend highly enough having one or two writing buddies. That is other writers with whom you have a mutually supportive, but above all honest relationship – people who will tell you painful truths like ‘get rid of that character, that plotline – they stink!’ Or who will push you to extend yourself when you need it and who will praise and encourage you when you deserve it. 

3. And finally you revise, redraft and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.  And now it’s ready to submit to agents and publishers, right? 

4. WRONG! Please, please consider getting your manuscript professionally edited. Word of mouth recommendation is best – as with most things – but if you can’t make contact that way, then there are professional bodies for editors  – in the UK the SfEP website http://www.sfep.org.uk/ is a good starting point – and they are worth investigating. Yes it costs money BUT you should see it as an investment – in yourself and in your writing. I can personally recommend my own editor, John Hudspith,  http://www.johnhudspith.co.uk  who also happens to be an excellent teacher of writing. 

5. THEN – take the editorial advice and rewrite AGAIN. Now you might just might be ready to seek publication.  

There are a lot of  ‘how to’ manuals out there – I list several on the ‘Writing’ page of this blog – but one of the best – if not the best – that I’ve discovered so far is one first published in 1934 – and still in print and that’s Dorothea Brande‘s book ‘Becoming a Writer’. 

See you in Nirvana aka on the bookshop shelf… 

The 3rd most beautiful bookshop of the world!
Image by stukinha via Flickr