Ghost Writing and Plagiarism

There are some interesting articles over at The Passive Voice (specifically this one and this one) dealing with ghost writing and plagiarism, and I was kind of surprised by the scope of the situation. I mean, from a business perspective, hiring ghost writers makes sense, I guess. James Patterson is well known for “working with” other authors to crank out books at a ridiculous pace and it seems to pay off very well for him, so why wouldn’t other “authors” use the same system? Well, I can only speak for myself, but I have several reasons why I couldn’t use ghost writers that go beyond the fear of plagiarism.

I really don’t think I could use a ghost writer, even if I wanted, because most of the time I don’t know what is going to happen in any of my stories. I tried writing a plot outline for The Dark Genesis of Daniel James, but it took way too much time, and I ended up deviating from it so completely that it was pointless. Now, instead of trying to plot out anything, I just listen to the characters as they develop and let them tell me what’s going to happen.

I also couldn’t use a ghost writer because James Patterson uses one. I like James Patterson’s books; I’m not as fond of the ones written “with” other writers. They don’t have the same feeling, the same voice. Just because he came up with the story outline doesn’t mean it’s a James Patterson book. I don’t want people feeling the same way about any of my books. If someone doesn’t like one of my books, that’s fine but I want it to be my work and my voice they’re reacting to, not someone else’s.

And lastly, I couldn’t use a ghost writer because, and I can’t stress this enough, I like to write. No one forces me to write, I choose to write because I enjoy it! This is what I want to be doing. When I sit down at the computer, I get to be the first to discover what is going to happen to my characters. It’s exciting to find out where the story is going and how the characters are developing. Why would I want to pay someone else to take that away from me?

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