When Clients Slash Your Content like a 1980s Horror Film

Big hair. Wild keg parties. And a deranged maniac who has just escaped from the asylum. Oh yeah, it’s a dark and stormy night too. Give or take some camp or a final girl, this is the basic recipe for a 1980s horror flick. Love ’em or hate ’em, these cheesy, blood-splattered odes to youthful excess and Reagan-era decadence have more of a cult following than Charles Manson, Jim Jones and David Koresh combined.

Slasher films are all about the body count, but considering this is a G-rated site and not a hard R, we won’t delve into all the clever and gratuitous ways the 1980s maniac gets his point across. What we can do, however, is draw a comparison between the knife-wielding bogeyman of yesteryear and the first time a freelancer sees his or her ghostwritten work cut, mangled and re-edited by a hatchet-happy client on the Internet. The horror! The horror!

By Axe, By Knife, By Chainsaw, Bye-Bye

Curious, proud, and just a wee bit bloated with megalomania, there comes a time when most freelancers will search the Internet for their blog ghostwriting. After laboring over a 500-word piece, who wouldn’t want to see how the final draft was put to use? Sometimes the client hasn’t made any changes to the article; it’s exactly as you wrote it, accented here and there with some nifty graphics, a picture or two, and voila.

Unfortunately, there are also times when clients run amok like slasher film maniacs, editing the content by axe, knife, or chainsaw, until your 500-word article on green living or Mediterranean cruises is so maimed and mangled that it bears little resemblance to the piece you originally submitted. Bye-bye thesis, bye-bye metaphor, hello cut and paste content collage. It’s times like these when ghostwriters are happy to be ghosts, the shadow players in the background, as no self-respecting freelancer wants his or her name attached to a butchered and hackneyed piece of prose. Yeah, I’ll have the wine, not the byline, thanks.

The Final Freelancer

One of the major tropes in horror films is what’s known as the Final Girl. Think Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1978 classic Halloween. In other words, it’s the last person left alive at the end of the film to face the killer. Through resourcefulness and cunning, the Final Girl is able to overcome the psychopath and put an end to the bloodshed.

Whether you stumble across your ghostwriting on the Internet or actively seek it out, it’s a good idea to keep the Final Girl in mind because you never know what you might find. If a client has sliced and diced your article into barely recognizable pieces of prose, you might need some resourcefulness to get over the horror of the initial insult. After the dust settles and you push the throbbing vein back into your temple, just remind yourself it was a $40 gig and that, in the end, is the Final Word.

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


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