Ghostwriters Should be so Lucky to Tell This 1 Kind of Story

stories matter typed on paper from a typewriter

Fifth in an occasional series about stories and ideas worth telling.

One criterion ghostwriters should look for when deciding what story to help tell is how mouth-droppingly amazing the story is. If when hearing the whole story, I find my mouth agape and my vocalizing the sentences, “Oh my God. I can’t believe that!” or something to that effect, I know I want to invest at least a year of my time to bring that story out of somebody’s head and onto the page.

As I wrote in my April 23, 2023 post, “(G)hostwriters want to work with people who have stories to tell that excite, motivate and inspire them. … So, what is a compelling story? It’s a story that has a powerful and irresistible effect; or earns admiration, attention or respect.”

This month, I will finish a 16-month journey with a client whose story is so unique and compelling, I still can’t believe it’s true — and I just finished ghostwriting it.

My client married a non-violent psychopath — and that’s important because her life was never in danger and she didn’t know that psychopaths could be non-violent — who fancied himself a stock market expert but in fact was a bullshit artist who bilked investors out of almost $1.3 million. She had little idea until they were supposed to close on a house they bought for more than $1 million but he skipped town. Then she went into his phone records, called the most common number, and discovered his girlfriend — who didn’t live too far away from her.

The combined shock of no money, no house, and no marital fidelity caused her to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. She immediately divorced him.

But that was far from the end of her misfortune. The state came after her for the money he stole because they were married at the time. She not only didn’t have that money, she also had no money for an attorney, so while suffering from PTSD, she had to defend herself in administrative hearings.

This went on for years, her condition always worsening and the specter of having to pay such a large judgment causing untold stress, until she finally found an attorney who was willing to work pro bono and got the judgment thrown out.

But she wasn’t done. She then went one step further and got the law changed so this could never happen to anyone ever again. 

Anytime and every time I tell this story, people are amazed, awestruck, and astonished; their eyes widen and their mouths open, and they almost always say, “Oh my God!” and “Wow!”

Of course, this story excited me, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for her.

Other reasons this story was so amazing to write included:

Relatability. There are many people out there who have married psychopaths (she ought to know, she’s met a great many of them), and there is no doubt in our minds that these people will see some aspect of themselves in her story, even if the details aren’t exactly similar.

Details. Her story has a great many vivid details in which a reader can easily see exactly what was happening in that moment: Her screaming at her husband upon learning he was a fraud, her mind-numbing interactions with psych ward staffers, her joyful reaction when learning she was no longer liable for the judgment.

Emotion. How can readers not sadly shake their collective heads when her friends can spot his nonsense a mile away, but she’s the last to know? How can they not feel terrible for her when the government bureaucracy fails her? How can they not feel the joy she felt when she won?

I know I felt all these things, and I am so grateful to have helped her realize her ten-year odyssey to get this story written.

Are you trying to share your story? Work with Lee and find the benefits of a ghostwriter in Sacramento today.

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