When I’m ghostwriting someone’s memoir, it obviously helps to know their favorite authors, that way I can emulate a style I know they like. Some tend toward the avante garde, others prefer an old-fashioned, intellectual style, and others want the story to read like a certain genre, like mystery or romance.
There are other ways ghostwriting clients can help me. One is with music. If I ask, “Does your life have a sound track?” Some people will immediately know what it is: mellow lounge music, rhythmic dub-step, rock-and-roll, or what have you. Anything a client can do to help me get into his or her skin really helps, and sometimes music does that.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a romantic book for an older gentleman who spoke to me quite a bit about meeting his wife and the amazing connection they had. Along with that, he introduced me to the music they used to listen to. The story takes place in the fifties, but this wasn’t any fifties music I had ever heard before. It was kind of a Perry Como sound, crossed with maybe Edith Piaf. The music was so romantic and orchestral that it really gave me a feel for the mood of the times.
There was not a single element of raunchy rock and roll to it. The music was romantic, idealistic, and innocent, but dramatic. And that’s exactly what my client was like. He was the king of starry-eyed, idealistic drama. So, the book took on that quality, too. The music really helped me understand him.
I Brainwash Myself
When I’m ghostwriting a memoir, I like to brainwash myself. I read the books my client reads (or those I feel he should read), and I listen to the music my client likes to listen to. These are all aspects of the work I do in order to get inside a client’s skin and write in what is either the client’s voice or something a little bit better, more dramatic, and more flavorful than his natural voice. That’s just one of my techniques for finding out what makes someone tick.