In This Week’s Ask A Ghostwriter Column, I Ask How Much Is Enough?
Recently, I worked as a ghostwriter for client and we had a difficult time understanding one another’s process.
He wanted me to write the facts. I wanted to write the story.
Allow me to explain.
My client and I were in the process of creating an excellent work of fiction together. Right now, he is experiencing a great deal of luck with agents and publishers on the traditional fiction market. The trouble for us was, before he came to work with fiction, he he worked as an engineer. He was into numbers and figures and getting right how things worked
Me? I’m a ghostwriter.
Our book was highly technical. It dealt with technology and machines. Governmental processes. Military ranks and orders. There was a lot to know in writing the book.
My client was a bit taken aback when I set out to write the book without knowing what I needed to know. For me, it’s easier to write the story first then come back and add in the details.
Elaborate further? OK.
In an early scene in my current supernatural mystery novella, The Mask Of Tomorrow two parties are negotiating the sale of an office trailer. You know what I’m talking about, right? You’ve seen them on the side of the road.
You may be working in one right now.
Going into that scene, I was focused solely on getting the conflict down right. The two parties, who would later in the novella become allies, in this early scene were bitter adversaries. The seeds of their later alliance were sown in the negotiation.
I needed to know the conflict and characters before I knew the details. How much did an office trailer cost when the action my book takes place, way back in 1982? What is that construction site office trailer called anyway?
I needed to learn all of that… later. More urgent for me was writing out the conflict.
Consequently, as I wrote the scene in first draft, I had a lot of INSERT DETAIL notes in the text. For my writing process, having the right emotional and dramatic momentum mattered. That just right noun?
As far as was concerned, that could come later.
My ghostwriting client, as it turns out, works the other way. He couldn’t even look at a draft of our book with placeholder language. Often, he would throw back drafts furious that the details were wrong.
They weren’t wrong. They just… weren’t there yet.
I had never thought of this before (maybe I should have) but it occurred to me as we worked out a solution. Some people focus on the details and specifics, while others are more broad stroke oriented.
Bottom line? The process of getting to good writing is filled with enough road blocks. Even the most experienced professional ghostwriter can feel the blank page.
If you need those specifics, researching details before you sit down to write is your best practice. We live in the age of Google and the answers are all there. Some people can fill in the gaps later and that’s fine.
Is there a right way? Yes. The right way is the one that works for you. If you can write without details, and momentum matters more, get writing. If not, research first. Get your details in order.
Are you stuck on something in your writing? If you need writing advice from a professional? Why not Ask A Ghostwriter?
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If you’re serious about having your fiction, screenplay or non-fiction story professionally written, and you have a budget, please contact me via email, or call for a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation.