How to Capture the Actual “Voice” of the Person Getting the Byline

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There is no question that ghostwriting is unique in many ways. Other areas of writing require that you develop your own style and abide by established standards of quality. In ghostwriting, however, you have to learn and closely imitate other people’s peculiar styles of communication, in addition to writing well.

Are Ghostwriters Actors?

Comparing ghostwriters to thespians is a fair comparison. Actors and actresses study a particular character and then strive to be that person in speech and mannerisms. Ghostwriters face the same challenges.

As a matter of fact, Kelly James-Enger, in the article “How to Be a Successful Ghostwriter,” insists that you must first listen closely to your client. Pay close attention to the phrases and words they use regularly, as well as to the complexity of their speech. The idea is to get inside their head—to put it more bluntly, to become that other person.

How Do the Professionals Get Inside People’s Heads?

How intimately you have to get to know your client depends on the type of work at hand. A biography, for example, will require massive amounts of personal-resources investment. How much you charge for your services should reflect such realities.

Fortunately, most projects (especially article writing services) will not require that kind of close informational intimacy. In order to get the facts you will need, consider using one or more of the following techniques:

  1. Peruse personal writings. This can include diaries, letters, memoirs, high school album entries, emails, etc. People show their true colors in these types of missives and documents.
  2. Ask to see formal or academics writings. Term papers from high school; research reports from college; proposals written for employers; resumes written over the years; speeches given at functions—all these can give you a picture of the individual as a business person, employee, student, etc.
  3. Tape/video-record interviews with the client. Ask as many different types of questions as you can think of. Take these recordings and play them while you drive to places or engage in other types of informal activities. Let repetition help you imbibe as much of that person’s world as possible.
  4. Create a “character profile” of the client. The best writers do exactly the same thing, even when writing about fictional people. You will form a better “view” of the client after you slowly and methodically create a map of their personality, habits, inclinations, opinions and psychological propensities.
  5. Research the person thoroughly. What can you find out about them through social media networks? What will friends, neighbors, family members, employers, teachers/professors, etc., say about them? Become a detective; find out everything you can about them.

Hiring a ghostwriter is not an easy task, and it’s not a job for everyone. If you can paddle your way past the many obstacles, however, you can make decent money, stay fairly busy, meet many interesting people, and, if you’re lucky, make some other people rich and famous. The question is, though, are you that vicariously-oriented?

Fred F is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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