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Working with multiple writers

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So I'm a professional writer looking to switch into writing for games. A month or so ago, I decided to go for it. I found a project here through the help wanted boards, and now I'm working for a very promising project with about 25 other people on the team and getting experience. The rest of the team is working pretty hard and doing great stuff, but words are easy. I have no problem keeping up with them. I'm the only creative writer on the team, and I've shifted to additional roles just to try and keep me busy.

I notice that in the help wanted section, just about every project has multiple writers on it. I just can't understand what you would need more than one creative writer for. Only the really huge budget AAA rpgs are going to have enough work to keep one writer working full time. So adding more writers to small projects just means more cooks spoiling the pot.

Is it just a matter of writers being a dime a dozen so Project Managers feel sorry for them and sign them on even when they already have a writer? Or do PMs not realize that a good writer can far out pace an entire art and design team?

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Hi Lok, you wrote:
>I'm working for a very promising project with about 25 other people on the team and getting experience.

If it's unpaid work, then it doesn't count as professional experience. But it is very good that you're doing that; it does count for something. Credit, if the game releases.

>words are easy. I have no problem keeping up with them.

Yes, the writing is always a very small percentage of the project, both in time, man-hours, and cost.

>I notice that in the help wanted section, just about every project has multiple writers on it. I just can't understand what you would need more than one creative writer for. Only the really huge budget AAA rpgs are going to have enough work to keep one writer working full time.

Someone recently wrote a post (here, I think) suggesting hiring multiple writers so each character would have a different "voice." But as for why those projects have so many writers, you'd have to ask them. Reasons could vary widely for each project.

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Hi Tom. I've read your lessons about breaking into the Game Industry and found them pretty helpful. I've been sending out resumes to game studios that post writing related positions that I would be good at, but so far, no call backs. I've only been doing that for a month now, and I know studios sometimes take several month before they start contacting people(friends in the industry have told me that they've waited months after applying). I imagine about a hundred other people doing the same for each job listed, only some of them have industry experience, so a "newbie" like me gets pushed to the back right away. So I might need to just work on small, unpaid(or low paid) games for a while. I don't mind paying my dues so I'm fine with that. I didn't get published after the first query letter I sent to a magazine. I still have (and cherish) my pile of rejection letters I collected before I started selling articles I wrote.

The game project I'm currently working for is unpaid, and thus not professional(though it's very organized and well run). I am a professional / published author, but obviously not through the medium of games. You're right. I'm hoping to use this game project as something to look good on a resume and to add it to my portfolio of work. And who knows? The game could turn into something successful and the studio could afford to hire us all for another one.

But back on topic, I did read that post about using a different writer for each character. Yeah, silliness. Again, that's a case of 10 different mediocre writers < one good writer. A good writer is better able to make sure each character has their own dynamics and separation in the game story.

Really, my question is more towards a lot of the hobby / indie projects I see mentioned in the help wanted section of these forums that have more than one writer on a project. Has anyone found that helpful, distracting, chaotic, or more productive?

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I'm glad my articles have been helpful for you.
Quote:
Original post by lokana
Really, my question is more towards a lot of the hobby / indie projects I see mentioned in the help wanted section of these forums that have more than one writer on a project. Has anyone found that helpful, distracting, chaotic, or more productive?

I assume the reason you see lots of writers on hobby / amateur projects is that writing is "easy" compared to programming and computer art, and lots of hobbyist / amateur writers want in on those projects. They might show up, do a little writing, then get replaced for a variety of reasons.

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I'm on a very small project that has wound up with two writers.

Basically, we're both committing a tiny slice of spare time cause it's all we have. A few hours here and there. So it takes two of us to fill out everything that ought to be filled out.

If it was one writer working full time, that'd work great.

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I agree for one writer, but to me it all depends on the storyline your trying to accomplish with in the slotted time. May it be a days, weeks, months, or years work of writing to get the full story down and completed for the first, sequels, prequels, and the like of each game that comes out. If at all.

Two writers can bounce off ideas for the story. Just like writing a novel or script for a television show or feature film.

In my survival horror board game, I know what I want to do with its story board and storyline, but with so many characters interacting coming in and out of each location and from time to time is quite difficult for just one person. This is why its taking nearly 9 1/2 to 10 years to get the story line completed. At this present time its always in a working process. Getting the feel for the mood and mechanical part of the game worked out as well.

For the movie script I am working on, that's a two part team in itself. So its a no rush situation for it to get finished right now. Its that fine tweaking that makes it smooth to a detail format that makes it worth seeing on the screen or reading it in a book or magazine.

Like I said I think that different genre story lines need one or two or even three people to work on the storyline to see how it will turn out in the end product. That's just me. Plus I like being creative being able to share the ideas with a friend who may or has the same interests for the story I am willing to share and tell.

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Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Yes, the writing is always a very small percentage of the project, both in time, man-hours, and cost.


Well, not _always_ - there are some cases like visual novels, text-based games, and interactive story games where the writing becomes a fairly large and complex task. But in my experience the main reason for having multiple writers on a team is that different writers are good at different areas of writing - one might be focused on action and create the basic plot outline while another might have more talent with humor and romance and create the actual dialogue. It's quite common for amateur writers and also visual artists to be interested in only male characters or only female characters; sometimes the division is by personality or role in the story, one writer might have no interest in characters who aren't involved in a romance, another might have no interest in characters who aren't fighters. One writer can edit the other's work (non-writers are usually useless at editing writing and a badly-edited game looks really unprofessional). Finally if it is a project where you are creating an original fantasy or science fiction world, one writer might not have enough ideas to really give the world depth, it's nice to have the results of several writers' brainstorming to pick and choose among.

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I agree that two or more heads are better than one in terms of brain storming. In the writing world, I meet once or twice a month with a critique group of fellow writers, and we go over each others' stuff. I've been doing that on a regular basis for over a decade now. Even famous writers still have critique groups such as this. Critique groups are invaluable. My friends and family all think everything I write is amazing. It takes another experienced writer to be able to catch all the issues in it.

But in terms of writing for games, I think a design team as a whole can brain storm, and these don't have to be fellow writers. Conceptual artists, Creative Directors, Level Designers, etc, are equally qualified to throw in their opinions on how to build a unique IP for a new game. I agree with sunandshadow that these "non writer" people should not be editing a writer's work though. I worked for a magazine for a few years with an editor that didn't know she was supposed to actually edit the articles we sent her before they went to print(despite being paid to do so), so I had to edit my own work. I *hated* that. It was journalistic writing, so not as hard as Creative Writing, but still, I always missed typos I made.

One of the things I would be worried about with multiple writers is a mismatch of writing styles. That might work if the writing assignments were broken up into dialogue, technical game info, character background information, etc. Otherwise, I think having more than one writer tackling those same assignments could get messy.

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