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When an author says their readers tell them they can hear their voice on every page, then I know as the ghost-writer working with that author, I have done my part of the job correctly. Of course, the other part of the job is to ensure that we ghost-writers craft a compelling and artful narrative. One that will make their readers want to turn the pages, just to know what is going to happen next.

Whether you are writing something as part of your business, fiction, or even a ‘how-to-do-it’ book, you must be sure that your author’s voice is embedded within the pages. It is further important to make sure that the reader takes away clear, concise examples of what is only relevant. These elements will appear through an author’s opinions and their arguments.

For example, let us say you are approached to ghost-write a book in the memoir genre. Now a memoir, by definition, is a story, discussion, or simply the biography of a person's life that has been written from a personal understanding of them. However, you have to keep in mind that the final piece written must be read as if it is part of the actual thoughts and accounts spoken or written by that person. Meaning you have to be able to do this without losing your writing style.

Writing a memoir is no doubt one of the most difficult forms of writing. Especially when it comes to capturing a client’s voice. This is due to the sheer amount of personal knowledge needed, plus having the correct perspective when approaching the piece.

When you first meet your client you must be able to capture their inner voice. Try to begin the process by having a series of interviews; recording and transcribing these where you can. Don’t expect there to be only one or two as the interviews could sometime, often lasting several days. Although, this could depend upon the length of the story and the number of experiences your client decides to share with you.

Later, listening to the recordings of your client, and comparing these to any notes you have taken, will help co-ordinate your thoughts when you finally sit down to write their story.

Do your best to let your clients' words flow. No interrupting the storytelling, although you may need to guide the client if they via off point or wander too far into the weeds. This can and does happen. And remember, there may also be times when you could lose your train of thought. So, don’t be embarrassed to ask, “What were we talking about?” Hopefully, you will both laugh about it.

Often just listening to their recorded voice will help give you lots of clues; thus enabling you to replicate their voice when writing them.

What about the specific elements of your client’s voice? Well, yes there will probably be some quite unique moments where the client’s voice really resonates. If there are, then these should certainly be included within the pages, so as to ensure the authenticity of the memoir content.

Now let’s look at a few basic examples to help you understand what is needed.

Sentence structure, cadence, and tempo are all important elements, much like a piece of music. And, of course, you must be able to pace your writing, as the person’s storytelling is all part of their voice.

And don’t forget their expressions.

If you can, incorporate sayings and metaphors you have heard your client use whilst telling a story. As a Yorkshire person, I probably use idioms or phrases that are localised to where I come from. The same can be said for most people, depending on which part of the country they live. For example, “He or She’s no oil painting,” is something commonly used when referring to a man or woman’s looks, whether good or bad. Another one I often use is, “Smile, it might never happen.” This one we use when someone looks grumpy. It is aimed at cheering them up and making them smile.

When you discover these special regional expressions be sure to use them judiciously, as it can make the writing sing.

Think William Faulkner and take it down a few notches.

Or listen for those foreign words — used authentically — that a client frequently relies upon when English is not their first language. And don’t be afraid to use them. Trust the reader will figure them out, or look up the meaning.

Show a sense of humour.

We know that not everyone is a barrel of laughs, but there are some storytellers who have an amazing array of jokes (many of which they have told and retold). These can often spice up the writing, striking a familiar note to many readers.

Think about using Aphorisms. These are pithy observations that contain a general truth. For example: “the old adage ‘the child is father to the man’”

I am sure many of us have at one time or another met someone who has quoted a well-known adage. Aphorisms are great as they help balance out the expressions that the client uses by offering more well-known expressions. One’s that will have affected or inspired them indirectly. Placing such phrases or quotes in strategic places serves to directly retain your own writing style and voice within the piece.

Look for opportunities along the way. Some more common ones are, “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” I am sure there are thousands and thousands of similar such sayings that readers will enjoy coming across as they read. Probably, because they may have heard your client (and possibly many others) saying these when being interviewed or when speaking direct to the readers.

By referring to what we have described, along with simply spending time fully understanding the story told to you, when writing the memoir you will ensure that your client’s voice shines through. And, that it influences the final piece, but without being overbearing.

Which of those you choose to use or ignore will be the strength of what keeps your voice in their narrative. Remember, make sure to take the time to listen to the story. It must become understood and settled within your mind before sitting down to write.

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