Virtual Parrot: Channeling the Author’s Voice as a Ghostwriter
Turning content into their own haunting grounds is not a ghostwriter’s goal. Their purpose is to disappear into the printed pages or the computer screen and make it appear as though each word sprung directly from the credited author’s mind.
Accurately channeling a client’s voice is the primary purpose of a ghostwriter. They do not seek the spotlight, but shift it in their client’s direction. You can tap into your client’s voice – and guarantee you will spring to mind first when they are hiring a ghostwriter – through doing the proper homework ahead of time.
Shadow the credited author
Job shadowing is a proven learning tool in the business world. It helps a student gain a better understanding of how to do a particular job they are considering. Ghostwriters can employ the idea of shadowing in preparation for a project with a client.
As a ghostwriter, you can shadow your client during a typical day at the office. Observe how they interact and communicate with other people. It gives you a better idea of how they do things in real life and can help you splash that personality into the content you are creating for them.
Read what they have written
Even if your client is not a published author, that doesn’t mean they have not written anything before. People who are not professional writers by trade still write frequently as a natural part of work and life.
Ask permission from your client to examine their emails, letters, reports and other documents they have composed in the past. Take notes of their style and how they communicate. Reading what they write can help get sense for their personal writing style and help structure your words to match their actual voice more closely.
Listen to them speak
People often write in the same manner they speak. It can be useful in constructing your client’s voice to listen to their actual voice. You can get a sense of what they will do when given a chance to address an audience.
Listen to recorded speeches or presentations your client has given in the past. How do they approach their topic? How do they engage the audience? What expressions do they use? What examples do they draw on to make a point? There are so many questions that can be answered in a short time when you listen to how they express themselves verbally.
Conduct an interview
Conducting a series of interviews with your client is a reliable way to capture their voice. Listening to them answer your questions and discuss topics important to your ghostwriting project will help you understand how to channel their thoughts as if you were inside their head.
Take careful notes. Do not jot down their answers alone. Observe the expressions they use. Make note of jokes they make. Find little qualities that define their personality and infuse those qualities into your content. It will make it feel more authentic.
John C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.