Jim Ward posted some wisdom about writing, and I had to share it. Jim, if you ever see this, I hope you do not mind that I post all this…but its so good I need to share it far and wide.
Without further ado…
Keep Writing No Matter What
In 1974 when I started game designing and I was a terrible speller and it was a time before spell correction programs. All of my editors gave me tons of heat and most suggested I really didn’t have a career in game design. That didn’t stop me. Like Gary Gygax I could always tell a good story which in my mind is 80% of the work of game design.
So I took the editorial hits and kept on trying to improve my craft. One time the author of a Conan pick-a-path book vanished without a trace. I was the only one available to write the book. Pick-a-path books are tough to write because of the many paths in the story. I did it quickly and if I do say so myself the story was right on in the Conan style. The editor came to me after I was done and told me I had done a terrible job and really shouldn’t write any more TSR projects. I was unusually angry at her words. I asked her, “are the characters true to the Conan universe?” She didn’t know because she had never read a Conan novel. “Did I get any of the complex pathing wrong? No she said. “Was the general plots, and there were several, interesting?” Yes you did that okay. “Then what was so bad about the book you asked me to complete in three weeks when every one else took months and months?” She told me I spelled too many words wrong to be an author. Lucky for me I was her boss. I told her to quit belly aching and do her job. I worked much harder on my spelling in future projects.
I’m happy to report that as I worked with many full time game designers I discover that 100% of them were poor spellers.
Thanks again Mr. Ward.
More great words of wisdom from one of my biggest writing influences…. Mr Jim Ward.
Getting the Work
I do the same things all the time as I work on projects. Maybe some of this information will be useful to others.
1 — try hard to bring projects ahead of the deadline. Troy Denning used to say that a deadline was something where you were dead if you crossed that line. I know I have gotten work in the past because I try very hard not to be late on things.
2 — Outline
I’m a great one for being focused. I outline every project I work on. I always change that outline as I work, but I always have one.
3 – Spell check, spell check, spell check
As I begun my writing career I was a terrible speller and there wasn’t a spell check program. I can remember Anne Brown saying she cried as she worked on my files because I spelled so bad. I’ve worked hard on that. Turning over projects with even a few spelling errors is a terrible idea.
4 — Know the companies you work for. I study the products of the companies I work for. I study their websites. I make suggestions on products unique to them.
5 — Know your competition. When I worked for TSR years ago I read all of the competition’s materials. Even now, I read what other companies produce and I try to beat it with my work.
6 — Try new things. I try to put unique concepts into all of my projects. When I wrote, with Anne Brown, the Storyteller’s Thesaurus we wrote that book with an entirely new way to work a thesaurus.
7 — Read a lot
I read short stories and novels every day. It gives me great new ideas.
8 — Write every day. Saturdays and Sundays are just normal work days to me. Holidays just mean I don’t write when I’m pulled away to fun family gatherings.
9 — Facebook
I try to write something on facebook or share something on facebook every day. I find it an inspiration to me on a daily basis.
I hope some of that helps. God Bless America
Hope your learned something. I sure did.
I copied this from Jim Ward’s Facebook Page.
Great stuff. Thanks Mr. Ward.
Back when young Jim Ward wrote Gods, Demi-gods, and Heroes and Metamorphosis Alpha there wasn’t a spell checker. My text was filled with grammar errors and bad spellings. I had good editors but they weren’t happy. Several TSR editors told me I shouldn’t be designing anything because of my poor writing ability. I listened but I wasn’t daunted. I worked hard at improving my writing. I proof read my material more. I got friends to read things over. during that time I had some huge successes. Deities and Demigods sold 60,000 units at its first printing. Gamma World sold 40,000 units in its first printing. The editors gripped at me less. I worked at my craft. Today I still make huge mistakes but not often. I feel the need to present the best possible product when I turn it over. So in the 44 years of game design I’ve been very lucky as people really like my material. Today I have several companies more than happy to take my work and especially run kickstarters with my name attached. I try to always do the same things.
1 — I outline to focus my thoughts.
2 — I try to throw in actual historical information in my products.
3 — I try to turn over things earlier than expected.
4 — I try hard to put new concepts in my products. This is tough as there are zillions of rpg product these days doing almost everything I want to do.
Happy holidays to you all.
As I get around to finally posting about GaryCon X (a month late, yeah yeah), one of the things I got to do is speak to Jim Ward about the first science fiction Role Playing Game, Metamorphasis Alpha. It was a precursor to Gamma World, (honestly my favorite RPG – Sorry D&D) and it was filled will all sorts of fun, weird stuff. Some people I know are looking for an IP to base a game off of and I immediately thought of Jim and MA. In this video I am talking about what makes MA so great and why it stands out.
Jim, if you eve come to my little corner of the internet, Godspeed sir, you are one of the good ones and one of the main influences on my writing.
With out further ado, here is the video.
Oh, and since this post was not up to my normal levels of weirdness, I just wanted to add…
Wiffle ball bats.