As I transition from ghostwriting to being a published author, I realize many things wrong with the self-publishing industry, including the fact that more than 50% of so- called Amazon authors have never written a sentence of fiction.
I blame my depression. Okay, maybe not, but I'm not far off the mark.
It was during one of my most devastating moments of depression while talking with my doctor that he asked me, "What is it that you want to wake up doing and what you think about doing each night as you go to sleep?"
Let me just say that I hate reading single POV stories. Not in this day and age. They seem one dimensional to me and, if your other characters have any kind of depth, I would like to get to know them. Getting into a character's mind is different from being told about the character. We keep hearing about showing instead of telling. Show me the character, let me feel them.
Recently, a friend from the writing world, more specifically, the ghostwriting world, needed a bit of advice about a piece of work he did for a client. He wasn't sure what to do and neither did I. I decided, rather than give him my perspective only, I'd ask a few other writers what they thought. I discovered the answer was not as cut and dry as I originally thought and it got me to thinking about my own reputation as a writer.
Here's what happened. The writer in question, whom I do not personally know, wrote what we call a novella (30,000 words) for a client. The writer was the one who plotted the story, outlined the characters and basically did all the work including the title of the story. All the client did was request a story on a freelance website and he was hired, paid to do the story and delivered. The dilemma he faces is that he wants to know if he can rewrite the story by:-
1. Changing the main plot
2. Change the characters' names and add more characters
3. Change the setting
4. Develop the characters more
5. Add more 'meat' as he called it, to the story
6. Make the story into a novel
As far as this writer is concerned, the original will be nothing like the novel, he is just using it as a skeleton for his new story. He asked me if that was against some code of conduct as a writer. I had no idea what to tell him. The answers I got in my writer's group, ranged from no to yes, to giving advice on copyright, and advising how they could actually use the story without problems. Quite a few were against the idea and I can't really blame them. Initially, my first thought was, "hell no". However, when he outlined to me what he planned to do I thought differently.
As a ghostwriter, here is my take on the matter.
When a client hires you to do a story you can either negotiate with the client that the plot and theme belongs to you and you will only give rights to the story you provide, OR, you hand over all rights. Retaining the rights to the plot and characters mean that you can do a follow up on this story, or write a new story with said characters and plot and the client can do nothing about it, since you agreed to such. If the client believes he now owns the story, plot and characters by some unspoken agreement, then he owns them all.
Since the person wants to change the story, by rewriting the characters, plot, scenes and everything, wouldn't be safe to say that he is not violating any copyright or agreement with the client since the story (plot, characters and scenes) wont be the same?
There is no law that says one cannot use an idea to create a new one, so long as you don't copy the original story word for word. According to my friend, he is recycling stories he's written to make them into better stories. Personally, I never thought of that, but that is not copyright infringement.
On the ethics side, if the client realizes what he's done, it could mean he may gain a bad reputation for recycling clients' works. The odds may be slim that a client may pick his book up, but will that client recognize the story? If he is as good as I think he is at this, he may be able to rewrite the story in such way that she would never suspect that it was based on that original story.
Is that unethical? Well, that's left to open debate.
It is unethical to plagiarize and if you re-use a story AS IS, without making it different, you have plagiarized. Writing is an art, yet it's different. We all know that most articles and books are recycled from other articles and books. When we write an article about "heart disease", we research that article using already published sources. Is that copyright? No it's not. So long as the writer does not copy word for word, but using the rlevant infromation in their own words, then the article becomes original. I should know since I also write articles.
"There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages."
– Mark Twain, a Biography
Given that premise from Mark Twain, then it is left up to writer to decide if it's worth the trouble. As for me I hate going back to old stories. I hate editing much less rewriting, so there is no chance of that happening with me. But I would love to see the finished work and compare both of them before deciding on this one.
When I watch my dramas I get ideas on how I make a story better, or new ideas for stories. I sometimes get upset with the writer and think about I could make a drama better. It happens with books as well. We get inspiration from may sources. Is it copyright infringement if I watch a drama of people dying from a rare deadly disease and I write a book in another setting, era and new characters about the same disease?
It is something to think about isn't it?
Please feel free to give your thoughts in the comments. And please don't forget to share.
While watching an Asian drama I decided to look at the reviews before continuing. I do this sometimes because; some viewers tend to post spoilers about the show they are watching. This is sometimes helpful for me not to waste my time on a show I would hate. The dramas I watch are posted on a website of which I am a member and I am able to browse through the episodes or jump to the reviews before watching.
Anyway, I was on episode two and not sure if I wanted to continue. While reading through the reviews I noticed some of the commenters mentioned how confused they were. One person mentioned intrigue and it got me to thinking about the difference between the two.
The drama in question is supposed to have some amount of mystery that will intrigue the audience, however, it ended up causing a lot of confusion. I noticed in episode one, I was confused about some things as well as episode two. I sorted out the confusion after a while and am now on ep 3.
Here is the thing about writing that many people don't get.
Although there is a huge difference between writing a story and a screenplay, there are certain rules that remain constant in 'writing'. The aim of the writing is to keep the reader/viewer intrigued or interested. The minute the reader becomes confused is the moment the writer fails. A reader/viewer may stick it out in the hopes that the confusion will be made clear in the near future. If, by the end of the story, movie, drama or play, the reader/viewer isn't clearer on those issues, then the writer clearly sucked!
Don't confuse intrigue with mystery. An intriguing plot is not necessarily a mysterious one. Intrigue is interesting. In other words, if you manage to hold the interest of the reader, you have clearly intrigued them. The level of intrigue is another matter. For the reader/viewer to be intrigued you must hold their interest at the beginning of the story/show. An otherwise great novel/movie can fail if you can't hold the audience's interest from the beginning.
We often confuse mystery with confusion. Not knowing what's happening can go two ways. The reader can be highly intrigued and tries to figure it out while dying to see what happens. Or, the reader can get so confused by the plot while he wades through it and try to clear the fog.
Mystery is when you keep the audience glued to your masterpiece without giving away too much all at once. The key is to give a little at a time to keep the audience, and then having the big reveal as the climax.
You want to avoid this as much as possible, thought there are times it can’t hurt to confuse. Confusion is when the reader/viewer can't decipher what you are trying to show them. There is no clear plot and the characters are here and there. There is an upside to confusion that may work, but not all the time. If you are writing about a murder and you make it seemed like one person did it while the other is innocent, you have clearly confused your reader in a good way. That is not bad.
One negative way of confusing your audience is to make the plot hard to figure out. For instance, if you are writing a murder mystery make sure the reader understands that. Don't wait until the middle of the script to make that clear. Make the murder clear from the beginning and keep the “who done it” until the reveal. Also, make sure the reader understands whom the antagonists and protagonists are. You also need to define supporting character roles from earlier on.
One way to confuse your reader is to switch the plot line. You start by making the script’s focal point about ‘Harry’s big day in town’, but the climax of the story is ‘Susan’s day at the salon’. You failed to mention Susan throughout the script, then all of a sudden she is the life of the party.
Define your main plot along with your subplots. Make sure they tie into your story somehow.
Hi there, did you miss me?
I have been busy and my schedule is what brought me here today.
I am sitting at my computer working on yet another story…for someone else. It's beginning to get old for me and I know you don't want to know about me writing for other people. However, this post is not about my ghostwriting as much as it's about the use of contractions in writing these stories as opposed to when we talk.