Assignment #4: Ghostwriting in The Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith

The Vampire Diaries is a series of books written by L.J Smith. vampire-diaries_0The books are about a young girl named Elena Gilbert, whom has her heart torn between two vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. (For those of you who are more interested in watching a show instead of reading the books, there is currently a show called “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW television network.) Smith is the creator of the series, however she only wrote seven out of the thirteen books. When her first book got published, she signed a “work for hire” contract with Alloy Entertainment, Ltd. By signing this document, she gave her rights away as the sole owner of the books. At the time, she was a young aspiring author and did not understand the full extent of this contract and the exact meaning of those three short words. Then the day eventually came when the book packaging company formally asked her to stop writing any further books in The Vampire Diaries series.

Smith’s last book was Midnight in The Return trilogy. Although she wrote the first book Phantom for The Hunters trilogy, Alloy Entertainment, Ltd disliked the route she was taking the series into, so they hired an anonymous ghostwriter (a writer who writes any form of text, but the writing gets credited to another person. Musicians, political leaders, celebrities are the ones who most often hire ghostwriters to write or edit their stories) to rewrite the Phantom book completely and continue the rest of the series their way by conveying it through Smith’s writing style to keep the readers engaged. Her name continues to be showcased on the cover: “Created by L.J Smith.” And to this day, the ghostwriter remains anonymous. I will discuss the differences and similarities in stylistic concepts between the two authors and how that affects the devoted readers.500px-Midnight_alternate

The two books I chose to analyze are the last one L.J Smith wrote Midnight in The Return Trilogyand the second book in The Hunters Trilogy, Moonsong. I choose not to use Phantom because even though the ghostwriter rewrote the entire book, there are still some pieces of Smith’s writing because she did originally write the book. Both books begin the same way with “Dear Diary,” and then went into how Elena was feeling at the moment. In Midnight, she was feeling frightened but explained how frightened she was “I’m so frightened I can hardly hold this pen. I’m printing rather than writing in cursive, because that way I have more control.” Here, one can visually see the extent of how frightened the character is feeling. In comparison to Moonsong, all that was said was “I’m so scared.” The reader has a vague knowledge of how the character is feeling.

Next, in Midnight the author’s social space is at a level of informality to the reader. The author has her characters talk directly to the reader in Elena’s diary entries. For example, “What am I terrified of, you ask? And when I say “of Damon” you don’t believe the answer, not if you’d seen the two of us a few days ago. But to understand, you have 9_The_Vampire_Diaries_The_Hunters_Moonsongato know a few facts.” Here, the author’s word choice is “you” which directly engages the reader into the story, creating a sort of bond with the character. In Moonsong, the author writes “And now I’m terrified. Why? Simply because I’m leaving home.” The social space here is formal and without the use of the word “you” the reader may not feel attended to. L.J Smith use of physical space is decent. Her writing style helps the reader visualize it as if they were watching a film, for instance, “near-scalding coffee seemed to have splashed her hand and arm and soaked her jeans on one thigh. The cup and saucer were laying in pieces on the floor. The tray and the cookies had bounced off behind a chair. The plate of a steak tartar, however, had miraculously landed on the couch, right side up.”

L.J Smith uses parentheses:

“At least I got to see how Stefan blossomed when being fed with human blood. (I admit that I gave him a few extra feedings that weren’t on his chart, and I’d have to be an idiot not to know that my blood is different from other people’s- it’s much richer and it did Stefan amazing amounts of good.)”

Which I found interesting that she uses them in a first person narrative, not to explain the meaning of a word, but to further add commentary to a sentence. The ghostwriter does not use parentheses. A trope that L.J Smith frequently used was similes. For example, “those are facades he puts on to cover himself, like clothes,”  “It’s like being wrapped in cotton all the time,” and “at the glorious golden beauty of her, as if the child of a sunbeam and a moonbeam had entered his room and was harmlessly bathing him in light.” Her use of simile is a cautious attempt to link together two unlike things. The ghostwriter did not use any clearly visible similes or metaphors. On the other hand, the ghostwriter did make use of onomatopoeias. For example, “thud” and “he grinned, and a tiny zing! shot right through Bonnie” The effect this trope has on the reader is he or she is able to imagine and hear the sound that the word resembles.

L.J Smith’s writing style consists of short sentences such as, “I can’t kiss her again. I can’t.” and “Damon leaped.” This leaves the reader to question. Well, where did Damon leap from? A major part of being able to read is able to imagine the scene at the same time. It is nearly impossible to do so if not given the appropriate details. The ghostwriter on the other hand uses a longer, more formal, sentence structure “Would you? the panther purred lazily, and Elena tried to push the thought away.” Next, L.J Smith seemed to commonly use the words “whispered” and “said” in the dialogue parts. The ghostwriter went into more depth when the character spoke, for example, “. . . he said to Damon, his lips twitching slightly with amusement” and “. . . said Elena, touched and a little flustered.” This gives more life to the characters when they speak. In the second chapter of Midnight, L.J Smith referred back to the diary’s entry “so all bets were off” in essence to keep the theme of the first few chapters continuous. She also has her characters talk to themselves, “Just relax, she told herself. Think of Stefan.” The ghostwriter has the character not necessarily talk to themselves, but rather think internally, “right, Elena thought with a curious mixture of relief and disappointment.” In both books, the writers switch to different character perspectives every once in a while and I came across many italicized words as well. The purpose of italicizing words is to emphasize their significance in the sentence.

Furthermore, I found Smith’s writing to be in the form of right branching subject-verb-object style, for example in this sentence, “Damon found himself pressing on a canine with his tongue, willing it to extend, willing it with all his cramped and frustrated soul to sharpen.” This is the standardized form of writing, where the subject is stated first in the sentence so the reader knows who is doing it, then what are they doing, and what are they using to complete the action. This helps one read the passage more easily. On the other hand, I found the ghostwriter to write in left branching subject-verb-object style, for example, “a box tipped from Stefan’s enormous pile as he started up the staircase, and Damon caught it easily despite the suitcase.” The second part of the sentence shows subject-verb-object. I found this to be an interesting sentence because it combines the writing style of both authors. As a reader, one may not notice this slight change because they are too focused on the reading the passage and finding out what will happen next. As a result, they may notice that the writing styles are different, but not necessarily know why it seems different since the writing style of the ghostwriter is subtle.

A ghostwriter is highly practiced in mimicking someone else’s writing style. After all, it is their job to do so. What I found interesting about this case was that only books eight through ten were written by an anonymous ghostwriter. I conducted a lot of research to see if any cases have been disputed regarding who the ghostwriter was, but nothing showed up. It is almost as if no one tried to claim themselves as the ghostwriter. Moreover, the following three books to the Vampire Diaries series were written by a ghostwriter as well, but she was named, Aubrey Clark. Why is it that her name was disclosed to the audience, but not the author of three middle books of the series? I found this odd. So, I decided to perform a brief comparison on the writing style of Aubrey Clark and the anonymous ghostwriter.

The book Aubrey Clark wrote, The Salvation: Unseen, started in a similar way that Moonsong Salvation_Novel_Coverstarted. “Yesterday, I felt happy.” It is short, to the point, and directly states the emotion, just like the anonymous ghostwriter writing style. Also I noticed in the middle of Elena’s, the main character, diary entry she gets interrupted, just like in the other book. Clark would also go into further detail of how the character appeared after a character spoke. Unlike Smith, she would just place “she said” or “she whispered” without any expansion on the character’s appearance. For example, Clark wrote “. . . jasmine said, her words rushed. She looked up at him with big, appealing eyes, a tiny nervous smile tilting up the corners of her mouth.” This gives the reader an image of the character in relation to the scene.

Overall, I found some distinct differences between L.J Smith and the anonymous ghostwriter. Even though they might have been slight to the point where the reader may not have been able to notice firsthand, the writing styles are a bit different. Granted, the writing styles may be similar because a ghostwriter is hired to copy the previous author’s style in order. Lastly, I found it interesting that Clark’s identity was disclosed, but not the writer of The Hunter’s Trilogy.

References

Smith, L.J. The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight. New York: HarperTeen, 2011. Print.

Smith, L. J. Vampire Diaries, The Hunters – Moonsong. London: Hodder Children’s, 2012. Print.

Smith, L. J./ Clark Aubrey. The Salvation: Unseen. N.p.: Amazon Pub, 2013. Print.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Assignment #4: Ghostwriting in The Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith

  1. You’ve written a well-researched, intelligent, and detailed analysis here. You make some very convincing points, and offer enough evidence to back them up.

    If anything, I’d like to see MORE evidence and MORE analysis to really bring the point home. A few side-by-side, in-depth comparisons of select passages could complement your arguments nicely.

    Great work!

  2. Great research! I myself was a fan of the books before the show came out. I never finished the series, I think the last book I had stopped at was “Nightfall” so I never got a chance to read the ghostwriter’s books. I didn’t even know that they had remove L.J. Smith as the author, but at least they let readers know that she wasn’t writing the books anymore. This is a great analysis but as Eric said, some side-by-side comparisons would’ve also been great to see. I’m interested in finishing up the series now to see if I can find any differences. Great analysis!

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