The Hills are Alive…With a Book’s Music

How Musical Line Editing makes it sing

Even though you’ve heard the term “Musical Line Editing” (MLE), we wanted to remind you about the proprietary, lift-every-author’s-voice-and-make-it-sing editing technique from Claudia Suzanne’s Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP).

“Musical line editing uses an array of techniques to tighten, strengthen, and dynamize our clients’ second drafts,” says Claudia. “It’s kind of a real ghostwriter’s superpower.”

Finding true musicality

All line editors check punctuation, eliminate ineffective non-sentences, and ensure the copy flows. Simply cleaning up a book’s copy is okay—but it doesn’t make it sing.

Every manuscript should go through three drafts: the author’s first draft, the edited second draft for readers, and the third draft that conforms to industry formatting standards. Musical line editing uplifts a manuscript’s second draft by getting rid of stuff that makes the author’s voice pedantic, repetitive, or passive by increasing the weight, rhythm, speed, and energy of each and every line.

Check out this example of MLE’s transformative powers:

Pedantic voice: “Serious consequences have happened by not paying attention to the climate change indicators.”

MLE singing voice: “Not addressing climate change indicators creates serious consequences.”

By deleting “to be” verb forms, the edit changes passive voice to active voice—a key skill for MLE professionals and Certified Ghostwriters.

Though you may have to reword any piece a bit, you cannot—and must not— change your author’s message or voice. That is a skilled ghostwriter’s mission and focus.

Editing makes things active, but…

Claudia’s example below illustrates how editing for action can inadvertently shift an author’s intended focus:

Passive 1: “Molly was singing as she was hanging up the laundry.”

Passive 2: “I heard Molly singing as she was hanging up the laundry.”

MLE Active: “Molly sang as she hung up the laundry.”

Yes, #2 is more active, but suddenly we have a POV (point-of-view) shift where Molly is no longer the key character. Instead, “I” has become the narrator of the scene, thereby becoming the main character, and changing author intent.

Learning when to embrace passive voice

Even though it’s stated in passive voice, this famous line from Star Trek’s creator—the late, great Gene Roddenberry—exemplifies that to every rule there is an exception: “To boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Imagine if the show’s intro was: “The Federation must explore!”  Though it’s definitely active, it’s not nearly as evocative. Sometimes—but rarely— passive voice is the perfect one.

That’s just the beginning

Obviously, this post has been just a quick reminder about the musical line editing you learned toward the end of Wambtac’s Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP). Now that you are a Certified Ghostwriter working on client manuscripts, you know that the key is to use the many formatting, organizing, book industry, and ghostwriting skills for a client’s first-draft manuscript then implement musical line editing to raise the quality of their second draft.

Thanks to being certified by a truly amazing ghostwriting guru, your MLE edits will guarantee the reader never has cause to stop reading, never needs to pull back and reread, never puts the book down because a line made their eyes cross.

Strip away feelings of remote isolation by chatting with fellow Certified Ghostwriters on the site. And remember: You can help us grow by telling others about a new option for taking Wambtac’s “Intro to Ghostwriting” course. Instead of waiting until January 2022 to begin this prerequisite to the full Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program, take the Intro class asynchronously via LearnDesk.

8 Easy Memory-Gathering Steps for Family Memoirs

How to start creating your relatives’ memoir

How many times have you thought a birthday, special family event, or some other holiday would be a great time to gather family memories—like Grandma’s history as a Rosie the Riveter patriot working in factories during WWII or Grandad’s motorcycle trip across the country?

And how many times have you pushed it aside saying, “But I don’t know when they’ll really be available”?

Or maybe you just figured, “It’ll work better when we gather for the next event ‘cause we’ll have more people.”

If there’s one rule we’ve all learned from this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic disaster it’s that—unlike for Scarlet O’Hara—tomorrow is not another day. At least it’s no guarantee.

As a Certified Ghostwriter, why wait to gather family memories? Instead, start implementing a few simple steps. Who knows how many of your family will jump in and start adding even more ideas?

Start communications

  1. Connect with emails or phone calls—It’s that simple. Start by reaching out to just a few key loved ones—e.g., your sister, oldest child, one of the grandkids—and tell them what you want to do. Then ask: “What’s the first step you can help me with?” Consider setting up a specific email address just for family messages.
  2. Be honest—Speaking of emails, acknowledge that some of your family might be afraid to admit they’re not techno gurus. Encourage them to ask you or closer loved ones for help. It’s second nature to those wiz kids from generations that grew up with computers and the ‘net, ever-more sophisticated cell phones, email and text messages, and beyond.
  3. Explore other technology—Successful memory-gathering is not just about recording audio. Have you been part of selfies, but really can’t do them yourself?  Will you need help making videos? What about uploading photos? Do you need a more sophisticated four-color device for printouts? Look to techno-hip family members for their expertise not only in making recordings in different mediums, but for safely preserving them.
  4. Do your homework—No, this homework isn’t not about helping your grandkids with their algebra or sentence syntax—it’s knowing what and who you’ll need before getting started. A good memoirist researches and organizes questions ahead of time. That way, when the person you talk to not only answers your first question but wants to keep chatting, you’ll be ready to ask even more. Remember, the best memoirs don’t just recite chronological facts. They’re a unique combo of facts with emotions and reflections for each event.

“Wow, Grandma, how did you feel when you first walked into the factory?” or “Hey Gramps, what did you discover in that defunct mining town in the desert?”

Get more personal

  1. Seek depth—Don’t just accept, “Our greatest family event was being in the Civil Rights movement of the 60s” or “Well, we were on the winning side of the Civil War.” That’s just the first sentence; you need more details. Your extra questions from #4 will help the family reminisce. If simply asking, “How did you feel?” doesn’t inspire many self-reflective details, try putting yourself in their place: “I would have been so scared” or “That would have exhausted me.” Many times, people need this juxtaposition to launch into their story, “Scared? No way, but…”
  2. Look for special family photos or a journal or other objects—Pictures speak a thousand words. Use them to help evoke even more memories—not only in others, but yourself.

Glean insights at events

  1. Decide on individuals or groups—Now that travel has opened again, are you seeing one or more loved ones at a special event? If more than one, can you handle it if, after each question, folks chime in together, talking over each other and interrupting so you only get snippets of real information?

Or are one-on-one interviews more likely to gain truly personal insights? Try breaking the group up by finding a quiet spot for individual interviews.

  1. Keep memory gathering beyond that first day—It’s unlikely you’ll gather enough memories from any one event. It could be even harder in 2021 when everyone’s delighted to finally be together again. There could be the kind of excitement—even frenzy—at reunions that can make calm memory-gathering challenging.

To learn more, keep gleaning remembrances at other holidays and events, like Thanksgiving and noteworthy birthdays—but don’t wait for such gatherings.

Use the email connections you already established and ask them to keep sending you memories; encourage them to exchange insights with other. Set up regular phone calls and/or Zoom meetings to keep the project going. Hearing and seeing each other helps family members feel connected and builds trust—a crucial bond for talking about sensitive subjects.

For more ideas on how to interview, check out websites like and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Then add in the skills you learned taking Claudia Suzanne’s Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP) to create a memoir your own family will truly love. ###

Help us grow by telling others about a new option for taking Wambtac’s “Intro to Ghostwriting” course. Instead of waiting until January 2022 to begin this prerequisite to the full Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program, take the Intro class asynchronously via LearnDesk.

Comprehensive but Concise

I realize the impulse to write-it-all-out in analyses, proposals, query letters, and BSP is strong—oh, so so strong. But you must realize no author, agent, publisher, booker, host, etc. wants to have to read through all your verbiage. Ghostwriting Psych 101: be concise but comprehensive. Just another reason why ghostwriting is the simplest, most complex endeavor a writer can undertake (and why we make the big bucks!).