Is ghostwriting cheating? Well, this edition of It’s Lit discusses just that.

I think the most interesting point raised in the video is around the idea of the solitary author. This is the creative genius whose work you love or the dolt whose work you loathe. All praise and ridicule can be easily directed at one person. But outside of some indie authors, a book (or series of books) isn’t the work of one person. A lot goes into bringing a story to life and placing it in front of us readers for our entertainment. From the cover art to the editing, from the writer’s group feedback to the publisher’s request for a sequel, lots of people are involved in influencing, shaping, and ultimately creating a book.

Now, I have been known to take a dig at authors like James Patterson for their co-authoring ways. And I find it a little unseemly that Tom Clancy is still releasing new books despite having been dead for five years – seriously, half as many as his releases while alive. But that is probably as much about the mass-produced book under a name-brand that we used to associate as the domain of pulp titles. To have that become part of the big-name author stable cheapens the experience somewhat.

That cheapened feeling is probably related back to the idea of the solitary author. Or possibly that I’m not a huge fan of Patterson or Clancy. You know, one of those.

You might being asking yourself– Why do ghostwriters even exist? Isn’t that cheating? Isn’t literature supposed to be the result of one person’s agonizing need to create? Aren’t books supposed to be the blood, sweat, and tears of the tortured auteur? Well, the answer is more complicated than you think!

It’s Lit! is part of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading. Hosted by Lindsay Ellis.

6 thoughts on “Fear of Ghost…Writing

  1. They’ve been producing VC Andrews books for decades and she’s been dead a very long time. However, their is a caveat at the end of each book that says as much. This is so the readers know that the original VC Andrews did not exactly write this book. Rather it was adapted from her notes left behind before her death.
    Now, there are authors that take up the mantle for dead authors, but use their own names on the titles. I have respect for that. I never liked seeing a dead author’s name on a book. It didn’t seem right to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Eric Von Lustbader has continued the Bourne series after Ludlum’s death. He has written 12 vs Ludlum’s 3…

      I’m not sure how I feel about that sort of thing. I know for myself that I have dozens of ideas sketched out, so I could imagine plenty of authors having files of notes for someone else to work from. But every example I’ve read is definitely not what the original author would have done (e.g. And Another Thing in the Hitchhiker’s series). So why not write something similar without treading on the toes or riding coat-tails?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I felt the same way about Stieg Larsson’s work. I was so frustrated with the books written by the other guy that I did not want to continue with the series anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

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