Writing Style Should Fit the Tale to be Told

fountain pen nib

One of my favorite aspects of ghostwriting memoirs is when I have gathered all the information for the book and I get to choose the style I’ll write it in. To me, style is everything, and I don’t choose a writing style lightly.

A Look at Some Writing Style Options

I have to ask myself: does the book want to read clipped and straightforward, like a detective novel; folksy and casual, like a southern novel; or complex and involved like a political thriller? In making the selection, I have to look at the information needing to be conveyed.

Basically, the more complex the storyline, the more creative I have to get with the writing style. For instance, the book I’m ghostwriting now involves a man’s life set against a very complicated political background, so the amount of information that has to be conveyed in each chapter is immense.

It’s like basically writing two books in one. I had to think about how I was going to bring across all this information, because one technique won’t do it. When there’s a lot of exposition like that, it can’t all be given through dialogue, hindsight narrative, asides, or any single technique. It has to come across through a variety of techniques so that the reader doesn’t catch on to how she’s being educated as she reads.

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Writing Teen Memoirs

teenagers sitting against a brick wall

The most interesting writing-oriented thing that’s happened lately is the final edits on this bank robbery book. It’s interesting how they’ve come about. I’m ghostwriting this book for a client, where the plot is fictional but the characters and their backstory are based upon real people. We came up with this compromise as a way of solving an interesting problem: the story she really wanted to write was about herself and her friends as teens; however, she didn’t want to write a straight memoir, but a novel. But if you’re going to write a novel about teens, and pursue mass-market publication, it’s usually got to be in the Young Adult genre.

That’s just how the publishing industry works; I know, it ain’t right. She really didn’t want to write a YA, so we created a fictional story that takes place when the characters are adults, but referenced their childhoods when referring to the back story, and that’s the origin of this unusual project. Which is why, in the final edits, things got kind of weird.

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Live Memoir Storytelling

little girl with a pink guitar

Hosted another great Santa Fe Speakeasy last week. Lots of thanks to every one of my storytellers and audience members! Our next Speakeasy–a monthly show featuring true stories told live without notes–will be our “Speakeasy All Stars” show. This is a chance for the audience to hear some of their favorite stories from past Speakeasys, but also an opportunity for storytellers to hone their stories.

Sometimes the second time is the charm for stories about prison, aliens, natural beauty, travel, or whatever it is. Many of our memoir short-stories have great content but it takes that first run-through to realize where the true core of the story is. This is why oral storytelling is actually really valuable for writers. The stories usually need to be changed a lot when and if you put them into print, but oral storytelling helps you figure out what the story is really about. Where the core of it is. It’s the audience reaction that really makes that difference.

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