The Man Behind the Scenes

Ghostwriting? Why would you want to be a ghostwriter?” Dean’s father asked. “You do all the work and someone else gets all the credit.”

Dean knew this conversation was going to be a tough one. His father was a well known TV news anchor and was hoping his son would follow in his footsteps.

“Dad, you just sit in front of the camera and read what other people have written for you,” Dean said. “Your success depends upon what those writers put in front of you to read on the air. They are your ghostwriters.”

“First of all, Dean,” Lawrence said, “I don’t just sit in front of the camera and read their words. I bring their words to life. I animate them. I give them depth, dimension, personality. Second of all, I’m the face of those words. I’m the name everyone knows. Nobody knows their names. They’re anonymous, they’re interchangeable parts. Is that what you want to be, an anonymous interchangeable part. Clearly I’ve been too lenient in how I raised you.”

“You don’t know me at all, Dad,” Dean said. “I’m like a stranger to you. I don’t need to be in the limelight. I don’t mind being behind the scenes. And you know what, Dad? I’m a great technical writer, but I’m not the creative type. I’m not the idea type. So,” Dean continued, a gleam in his eye, “by functioning as a ghostwriter, I’m playing to my strengths and helping others who have the gift of creativity to achieve their goals.”

“Dean, you are not an insubstantial young man,” Lawrence said, “but the low bar you’re setting for yourself is going to put me on a slab in the mausoleum before my time.”

“Well don’t you worry, Dad,” Dean said. “Should that happen, it will be only fitting for me to write your obituary, since I’m a ghostwriter and you’ll be a ghost.”

Written for these daily prompts: E.M.’s Random Word Prompt (ghostwriting), My Vivid Blog (conversation), Your Daily Word Prompt (lenient), Ragtag Daily Prompt (stranger), Word of the Day Challenge (gleam), Fandango’s One Word Challenge (insubstantial), and The Daily Spur (slab).

23 thoughts on “The Man Behind the Scenes

  1. Ron. October 25, 2022 / 2:42 pm

    Awesome inclusion of some diverse promptwords! I could never

    Liked by 1 person

      • Marleen October 26, 2022 / 10:17 pm

        I’ve written two obituaries (for two different people) handled by two completely different places at different times. In both instances, even though all they had to do was copy it or cut and paste, they managed to mess things up. I won’t write one again unless it’s ahead of time and there’s a way to be sure the funeral home people care about that part of the job.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadje October 25, 2022 / 6:13 pm

    He had the perfect comeback for his dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marilyn Armstrong October 25, 2022 / 7:36 pm

    Most anchors write most of their own copy and take a lot of pride in it. Garry wrote ALL his own copy — and sometimes, copy for others who weren’t great writers. His writing, not his persona, got him into the business — that and being Black at the right time.

    But really, anchors are NOT just narrators. They are reporters and often excellent journalists. It’s why they always want to “go into the field.” It gives them a chance to show off their “journalist” chops. I’m sure most viewers don’t realize that.

    Of course they are also pretty good actors. Anchoring is a LOT harder than it looks. Garry couldn’t do it or at least not well. If he could have, we’d be living in San Diego and have a LOT more money. He was offered an anchor job there and two others, one in New York city and another in (yikes) Georgia. But he knew it wasn’t his strong suit. He was a good reporter, good at winging it and probably one of the best at flying without a chute. But not anchoring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen October 25, 2022 / 9:41 pm

      I have wondered if anchors write their own copy. Once in a a while I cut one or another a break for stupid supposed information — due to my thinking they at least don’t write it all or don’t have time to look at all details. I do think some do more than others, at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marleen October 26, 2022 / 9:04 am

        I know this isn’t the kind of show you were referencing, as you and Garry worked at high quality organizations (not for today’s FOX”news” programs). Tucker’s presentation is not the kind of show I was talking about, either… I don’t cut Carlson any slack; whether he does the writing or not, he knows what he’s doing. (The story below is from 2020, and he’s gotten yet worse now.) [I was looking at news about him, last night, because there’s a new nepotism story out (although I’m not sure it’s exactly nepotism, just a reveal).]

        Chris Hayes: Tucker Carlson’s Racist Writer Is No Surprise | All In

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn Armstrong October 26, 2022 / 12:22 pm

          Not sure about higher quality. The “old” channel 7 was not always a great station — but the people who worked there were good and many (if not most) of them went on to bigger and better stuff. Garry doesn’t like change. He was made a lot of offers. He never took them. He was settled where he was and even when it wasn’t going well, change was not his thing. That has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with his particular personality. He STILL hates change, so living with me must have been a serious shock. But it was his idea, after all.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn Armstrong October 26, 2022 / 8:49 pm

          I’m not sure if Fox counts. I’m not even sure that they actually do NEWS. They don’t claim it’s news. They say it’s “entertainment.” If only it made more people laugh.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Marilyn Armstrong October 26, 2022 / 12:19 pm

        They don’t write every word because they are also “hosting” the presentation. So usually, the people who have pieces playing during that period write the “lead-ins” to their presentations and that’s industry standard, I’m sure pretty much everywhere although I’m not sure Fox counts as “everywhere” or even as “news.”

        But they do write MOST of their narrative. Not every anchor. Some are better writers than others, but most of them. All the really GOOD ones are also good writers. They also need to really know the news so if something unexpected happens they can wing it without a written narrative.

        The “crawl” isn’t i place of writing. It’s just a way for them to see what they wrote without have to constantly look down at the desk.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Marilyn Armstrong October 26, 2022 / 9:38 pm

        They write MOST of their copy, but as I said, they are also narrating a sequence of smaller pieces in that news segment. So everyone who has a piece of the news that day usually writes their own “intro” or lead-in for their segment and they also include and “out-piece” that cues the anchor that their piece is finished and he needs to jump in.

        Producing the news is a really complicate process involving a lot of reporters, editors, producers, anchors. Fitting all those piece together so they are the right length, everyone all wired up to make sure nothing runs over, commercials go on time, the news picks back up when it should. There’s nothing simple about it. I used to be in studio watching fairly often and I occasionally got to tag along on a field project. I was impressed at exactly how MUCH work it take to produce a hour of news. I could never have done it. The intensity is crazy-making.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marleen October 26, 2022 / 9:56 pm

          Yes, I’ve thought about how much actual work it would be, and then the intensity of how important a lot of it is; it would be emotionally toll-taking. Or, alternatively, one could intentionally turn emotions off. I’m glad I don’t have to do it but can receive a lot of information.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Marilyn Armstrong October 29, 2022 / 8:58 pm

            For Garry, it was really emotionally hard, but a lot of people turn turn their emotions off. By the time Garry stopped working, he was emotionally fried. I suspect our marriage saved him from himself.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Nope, Not Pam October 26, 2022 / 2:54 am

    Love it, that last line was spot on 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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