The certification course, offered through California State University at Long Beach, covered both fiction and non-fiction ghostwriting. When I took the course, the first semester was non-fiction and the second semester was fiction. Now the course has been adjusted so that fiction and non-fiction is done simultaneously.
Thankfully, I missed that schedule because focusing on just non-fiction or fiction was trying enough for me.
Throughout each semester, we students had the chance to work with live authors on various projects. Some were self-help, some were memoirs, and others were training materials.
This offered me the chance to get a look at the various genres of writing.
You know what? I like them all!
It’s the Author
The type of project mattered very little when the author was passionate about the subject. I can remember reading a rough draft where the writer had put, in capital letters, EVERY IMPORTANT POINT THEY WANTED TO MAKE!
This wasn’t once or twice but nearly every paragraph.
Despite the jarring effect this had, I saw that the author was passionate about the subject matter. They just needed assistance in writing it so that they didn’t scare away readers. I could see what they were trying to do, but in their eagerness to make the point, they ended up not making it.
So we set about finding ways to highlight their fervor without screaming at the readers.
It ended up being a fun project.
It doesn’t matter what the subject is
The reason the author matters more than the subject matter is the subject matter could be anything; cars, emotional intelligence, third-century monks, etc. When someone is passionate about said subject matter, they’ll want to make it engaging. Hence, they’ll want to work with someone who can make that happen.
When they don’t have a particular affinity for it, then it’ll make the project long and boring. And I can tell when the author did or did not have that deep-seated passion.
If they were writing a book just to write a book, then their words would fall flat. There was no conviction in them.
For example; let’s say the author cared deeply about elk.
Elk are just bigger deer, but smaller than moose. They graze, sleep, and sometimes go to the bathroom.
How do I know this?
Because my dad studied them. He’s still studying them.
He studied them for more than twenty years, published his findings…and is still studying them!
You try to get him to talk about pottery or cars, and he’ll give some lackluster responses or no response at all. But you get him talking about elk and you’ll be sitting there for a while.
Why is he so passionate?
I have no idea.
And I’ve gone on these little field study trips with him. Quite a few Saturdays were ruined because he’d get me up at 4 am- four in the morning- to go out with him with elk counts and what not.
It was only when I was older that it made sense that he was passionate about these studies. Otherwise who in their right mind would do this?
That’s why I care little about the subject matter.
Because if you’re passionate about the topic, then I can work with that. You’ll have to explain things to me before I can fully appreciate your passion. And then we’ll work on writing it.
But if you’re not passionate about the subject matter, then it’s going to be a long and arduous process to get your manuscript written and polished. And you’ll be doing yourself and your readers a disservice the whole time.
So write about what you’re passionate about.
What are you passionate about?
Listen to the Chirp
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