Malady on Aug 26th 2017 at 6:37:21 PM
Last Edited By:
Malady on May 1st 2018 at 8:14:39 AM
Page Type: trope
A ghostwriter is someone who writes under the name of another writer, passing off their work as the work of the other writer.
It may be a Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job.
Different from writing under a psuedonym, as in that case, the writer is the same person, but under a different name, instead of pretending to be a different writer altogether.
It may be an Uncredited Role, but sometimes they are credited.
Connected to Pre-Approved Sermon, whose speaker takes the credit for writing a ghostwriter sermon's, as the ghostwriter wants the sermon and its message to seem authentic, by making listeners think that the sermon was the message of the speaker, instead of the ghostwriter.
Anime and Manga
- In Jubei-chan, Sai Nanohana, father of the heroine Jiyu, is a ghostwriter of Jidai Geki novels about samurai. He proves to be dangerously Genre Savvy whenever the plot allows him to find out about the battles his daughter is involved in. In the sequel series, a major subplot involves Jiyu asking him to write an original novel, in a different genre, under his own name. He has to struggle with Writer's Block, and also has to try to keep his daughter from learning that one of his clients got him to do One Last Job as a ghostwriter.
- In the comic book run of Ghostbusters, Egon "wrote" a book by using a computer program to "Calculate an almost random pattern of words that positively stimulate the human brain" as an experiment. It was apparently quite well received.
- In Young Adult, Mavis Gary ghostwrites for an extruded YA series called Waverly Prep, using it to relive her own high school Glory Days.
- The Ghost Writer: A ghost writer is called in to pen the autobiography of a British politician, only to discover that his research material includes things that politician really doesn't want in the book.
- In Nineteen Eighty-Four, books for the proles are literally formulated by machine as a form of Bread and Circuses.
- Robert A. Heinlein:
- The main character of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls produces these for a living, generally of the romance variety, and the narrative digresses for a bit on the subject of these. Notably, at one point he notes that he tried writing war stories instead, but his experience as a soldier got in the way because he tried to make them too realistic to be decent stories. He also admits to cribbing the plot for one of his books from Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
- The "Unmarried Mother" from Heinlein's —All You Zombies— has that nickname because he churns out stories for confession magazines, presumably by pseudonymous unmarried women.
- Heinlein knew whereof this character spoke. Outside of his science fiction efforts, Heinlein himself was a writer of extruded book products for several houses, most notably a series of stories about an overweight teen girl with self esteem problems known by the nickname "Puddin'" — whom Heinlein later reworked into the eponymous protagonist of his young adult SF novel Podkayne of Mars.
- Roald Dahl's short story "The Great Automatic Grammatizator" focuses on a machine that can do this — but then they start buying out the real authors to corner the market...
- The Steve Hely novel How I Became a Famous Novelist, which revolves around writing such a book simply so its author can stick it to his ex-girlfriend at her own wedding for dumping him, is shown at the book convention where they sell it.
- In the third book of Gulliver's Travels, one of the absurd projects undertaken by the members of the Grand Academy of Lagado was a device to mechanically combine words, enabling books to be written with no input but raw mechanical effort.
- The main character of This Tragic Universe is a ghostwriter for a series like this in order to pay the bills while she attempts to write a "proper" novel.
- In Paris in the Twentieth Century, theatre has descended to this level, with plays mass-produced by teams of specialists who each contribute some small aspect, such as slapstick or romantic lines. Writers who are proficient with action or sex scenes are especially valued.
- In Artemis Fowl, this is one of Artemis' many enterprises. Having used his genius to perfect a formula for creating the maximally sell-able romance novel, he types these up in his free time between running a multi-national criminal enterprise, managing his family's legitimate businesses, designing a new opera house for Dublin and writing academic texts on the pathology of the criminal mind.
- The season 6 episode of The Avengers, "Love All", centered around romance novels of this sort. When visiting the publishing house, Steed learns (though unrelated to the actual plot) that the novels are actually generated by a piano-shaped computer. During the climactic file, it's accidentally activated and spits out a new manuscript.
- An episode of Clarissa Explains It All has Clarissa use a computer program to churn out a poem for her English class. Much to her horror, her teacher loves the poem, and insists on having her read it in public.
- Mad Men: In Season 7, Episode 1 Time Zones, It turns out that Don is acting as a ghost writer for Freddy.
- In the Jonathan Creek episode "Ghosts Forge", the titular house contains five copies of a novel by Gerald Eastland, leading Jonathan to deduce that the former owner "ghosts for G.E."
- Jane the Virgin: Petra asks Jane to be the ghost writer for her lifestyle book she's publishing, because of Petra having severe writing block, and she was busy dealing with the case of the death of her sister Anezka.
- Jaded slacker Jeff Redfern of Doonesbury tries to wriggle out of writing further escapades of his fictional hero, the Red Rascal, by hiring a ghostwriter. Jeff is too lazy to proofread the draft, and hands it off to his publisher. She soon notices the story makes a Genre Shift from Vigilante Man to vampire romance, and calls Jeff out on it.
- Barely anyone in the Shadowrun Verse reads anything more complicated than a take-out menu anymore, but the Shadowbeat supplement reveals this trope applies to TV scripts and pop music, both of which are cranked out via computer programs that regurgitate formulaic material to spec. Producers can even select how upbeat, stimulating, controversial, family-friendly, and so forth the finished product should be.
- The musical Trixie True, Teen Detective is a spoof of such writing syndicates.
- There was a time when Achewood's Cornelius Bear was an acclaimed writer of children's books. These days he makes the rent by writing crap romance novels and subtitling porn.
- The Simpsons:
- In "The Book Job" (guest starring Neil Gaiman), features Lisa finding out that all the young adult books (including her favorite "Angelica Button" series) are really just based on market research by the publishing companies and then written by teams of writers desperate for work. The "authors" who have their names on the book are just made up, backstory and all, and are represented by actors. After finding this out, Homer and Bart assemble a team to create their own hit young adult novel, using Lisa as the author to be credited.
- In "The Front", Bart and Lisa write scripts for new Itchy & Scratchy cartoons, but because the studio doesn't accept scripts from kids, they decide to use Grampa's name.
- The first season of BoJack Horseman has Diane being hired to be the ghostwriter for BoJack's much-delayed autobiography. When it finally gets published the following season, Diane is credited as the author.
- Joyce Grenfell had a routine where she played a children's author, churning out almost identical books about kids having adventures. "I never rewrite, and I never read what I've written". By a curious coincidence, this skit had some similarities to an actual interview with Enid Blyton, in which she said writing a novel took about a week.
- Grenfell never confirmed the connection (and indeed only used the character rarely, and for just a few years due to the uncomfortable obviousness of the parody) but the children's author character emerged shortly after Grenfell attended a literary lunch at which Blyton was a fellow guest.
- This is particularly common for autobiographies written by celebrities. The books are heavily influenced by the featured person, but the actual writing is done by a professional writer rather than the celebrity themselves.
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