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About Writing Right: The Blog


A screenwriter asked the other day what adapting a screenplay to a novel would cost. Here's what I told her.

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Does $100,000 sound reasonable? I didn't think so. How about $80,000? No? Okay, but here's the problem we run into for any amount of money.


Screenplays and novels are totally different creatures. Novels are far more complex and require more literary knowledge than screenplays. Infinitely more. That's both because novels have a more complex structure, more "moving parts," and because they're the end result of one writer's work (with very rare exception). Screenplays are collaborative efforts. Sure, a freelance screenwriter may write his entire 90-110-page first draft by himself, but by the time the script is made into a film, several dozen to several hundred people have contributed their expertise to the transformation. That includes five, six, eight, or even twelve different writers or more, all taking your baby out for a walk around the park.


That explains why really good novelists have very little trouble transitioning to good screenwriters, but very good screenwriters nearly never work out to be good novelists. Not only are most novels three-to-six times longer than the average feature-length script, but also they contain far more interrelated elements that must all work together. There's simply a far greater learning curve (and experience factor) in producing a well-written novel than there is in producing a top-notch screenplay. Read More 

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Somebody wrote in anonymously the other day and asked how much it costs to hire a ghostwriter for a book. He also wanted a little information on where to find one and how the ghostwriting process works. A lot of ground to cover. Fortunately, I had my jogging shoes on.

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I don't know many ghosts personally, but I know their price range is all over the chart. For wannabes and newbies, you can get one fairly inexpensively. Expect the finished product—as well as the experience of working with the ghost—to reflect that. In short, the saying "You get what you pay for" is no truer than when hiring a good ghostwriter.


I've been a published writer and editor for half a century and a book doctor and ghost for two or three decades. I charge only a flat rate (no estimates or hourly rates) and provide a contract guaranteeing a final price, date of delivery, and all the other usual suspects. My charges vary greatly, depending upon the complexity of the project, the difficulty I foresee in working with the client (some are much easier to work with than others), and my availability.


As far as the process goes, you as the story originator would turn over to me as the ghost an outline, rough draft, sketch, audiotape, transcript, or anything else that sufficiently conveys the concept of the book you want to end up with so that I am able to deliver it to you. Unlike many ghosts I've heard people talk about, I'm nonjudgmental, and I don't have a a fragile ego. My goal is to work quickly and efficiently to deliver the product my client wants and deserves. Read More 

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Someone asked the other day what I thought a good writer would charge to ghost an article for him. I had to think about that for a while, even though I've been ghosting for others for years. Here's what I finally came up with.

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What you'll need to pay to hire a quality writer to ghost an article for you depends upon a number of factors, of course. Among the things I need to know before accepting an assignment are these:

  1. The complexity of the article's subject matter. Is it a piece on the health advantages of owning and caring for pets, or is it an explanation of the Theory of Relativity? That makes a huge difference because that will determine how much research I'll have to invest before ever setting pen to paper. For me, as for most other folks, time is money.
  2. My familiarity with and appreciation of the subject. If it has something to do with writing, publishing, or English grammar, I'll take it. I'll even give you a cut rate. If, on the other hand, it's a look at why sexual identity is no longer strictly a binary consideration, I'll take it, too. But I'll have to double my rate.
  3. The deadline. If I have a long lead time, I can charge somewhat less because I'll be working on other projects in between. If you're on a tight deadline, though, that's another matter, and I'll have to take that into consideration when setting a price. Read More 
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I was thinking the other day about how to write a dynamite first chapter, and I realized there are more ways to accomplish that task than there are oysters in the sea. But there's one sure-fire, can't-miss, absolutely foolproof way to pull it off. Interested? Okay, here it is.


Write it.


No kidding. Write your first chapter however you want, and then go back and cut it. Cut the chapter in half. And then cut it in half again. And keep cutting until it's one or two pages long. Or less. Far less.


I'm serious.


Nothing turns off a reader at the beginning of a book (short of horrendous writing, which is rampant among self-published authors and even some conventionally published ones) faster than a long, rambling first chapter. And, the antithesis (are you ready for this revelation?) is that nothing turns a reader on more than a short, punchy chapter that lays out the plot, introduces the main character, and sets the hook so the reader will need to continue reading.


Did you hear that?


He'll need to keep reading. Read More 

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