Capturing another person’s voice is the essence of ghostwriting. Content produced under a ghostwriter’s hand is designed to mirror the credited author’s thoughts and words.
Interviewing the credited author helps a ghostwriter, or ghostwriting service, get a better idea of how to shape content. They glean necessary information to fill in the blanks so it becomes easier to mimic the author’s voice.
Making that voice sound right starts with effective interviewing. Asking a few questions isn’t all that matters. A ghostwriter must remember it is important to ask the right questions to the right people.
Avoid Leading Questions
Ghostwriters should never put words into the author’s mouth. Their primary goal is to create content that will express an idea as the author envisioned. It becomes much harder to meet this goal when a ghostwriter uses leading questions to coerce the author into saying what they want to hear.
During an interview, a ghostwriter should always remember their purpose is to tell the author’s story in the author’s own words. Their job does not involve interpreting the author’s story. Let the author speak. Allow them to share the information they feel is necessary for fleshing out the content.
Ask Specific Questions
Do not hesitate to probe for additional details when information seems unclear or incomplete. A ghostwriter should never assume they have the complete story after asking only a few questions. It is important to ask specific questions to get specific details.
Draw on journalism fundamentals when doing ghostwriting interviews. Ask the basic who, what, where, when, why and how questions. Use follow-up questions to glean more specific details from the author on important points. This will encourage them to put greater thought into how they shape the message and direction of the content.
Avoid Answering Your Own Questions
Ghostwriters are the equivalent of a crew working behind the scenes on a movie set. A director can give direction to actors, a writer can produce dialogue and a cinematographer can find the best camera angles for each actor. But it is up to the actors themselves to bring the characters to life in front of the camera.
The same principle is true with ghostwriting. Never assume you can read the author’s mind. Avoid interrupting their train of thought and answering your own questions in the interview. Let them provide the answers they want to provide and use the information they share with you as your compass in creating the content.
Search for Additional Details
Sometimes an author will not have exclusive possession of all the puzzle pieces. Creating detailed and accurate content can require a ghostwriter to reach out to additional sources in gathering all the necessary information.
Do additional interviews with friends and colleagues of the credited author as necessary to fill in the blanks. They can offer additional insights where the author lacked enough details. Only use these interviews to supplement the author’s voice. Do not let these other voices supplant it within the content.
John C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.