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?

A Writing Detour

This morning, like most mornings, I read through various news and informational sites as I drank my coffee. Unlike most mornings, though, I found an idea that immediately screamed at me to be used as a plot point for the next Mike Locke book. The idea was new, fresh, and I saw a million different ways to implement it. It was a perfect fit for one of his adventures. Unfortunately, I already have the plot for the next Mike Locke novel. So now I’m not sure which direction I will go, but that doesn’t really matter because I’m already in the process of writing 4 other books. But the experience did get me right into the Mike Locke mindset, so rather than work on My Life As Death this morning, I made some progress on Zero Sum.

That’s one benefit of working on multiple books at once; I can give my attention to the one that feels best that day without having to force myself to work on one I’m not connecting with. Sometimes I might be in a magic/fantasy mood, and I can open up the current Daniel James project. Other times I want to be a bit angry and gritty so I work on a Mike Locke story. My Life As Death is a little more tricky to categorize. It’s a little bit fantasy, but working on it is a bit more like reminiscing on my teen years. It’s far from biographical, but I’ve been putting a bit more of myself, my memories and teenage feelings into it. I think that’s why it’s been the easiest for me to work on so far but sometimes it’s nice to just get into something not so personal.

Bouncing between stories like that has made me a lot more prolific than I’ve been in the past, and after the morning session (and the predicted afternoon session) working on Zero Sum, I’m, even more optimistic that it will be released before summer. I’ll keep you posted on the progress, but I have a feeling I will need beta shortly, so if you’re interested getting an advanced copy, leave me a comment or email me at kriley97 at gmail dot com.