You already imagine colorful characters inhabiting stunning settings, you bring them to life with your words. You already plot ambitious adventures and direct the pacing of play to precise peaks. You do this because you love to run games and create content, and you’re so much better at it than you probably give yourself credit for! I mean, you are here reading Gnome Stew. I think that speaks volumes to your dedication to the craft.
Why aren’t you writing adventures for it? Why aren’t you contributing world changing characters, ever evolving histories, and awe-inspiring locales? There may be no better time to get started, than now.
Ok, I’m buttering you up, but why? I think now is the perfect time for many of you to write for your favorite games and game companies. We don’t know how long COVID-19 is going to keep many of us indoors, on limited work schedules, and locked away from in person gaming groups. For some, online gaming will become your new favorite glove, a perfect fit for this unusual winter cold going around. For others, gaming life is going to come to a screeching halt. Nobody wants that. What I want is for you to keep the healer safe, for you to save floating cities, and to inspire oppressed townsfolk that there is still hope. I want you to keep dreaming and to help the RPG community stay afloat. Don’t spend this moment lamenting missed opportunities, make the most of it! Offer your sword and try your hand at writing for the DMs Guild, Storytellers Vault, or your favorite game world.
You love RPGs, can’t get enough of them, and are looking for something to do with your time.
Share your world with us!
How to Get Started
Before the luxury of modern tools, many (now illustrious) RPG writers would mail letters to their favorite game companies asking for work. Man, I feel old just writing that, lol. The convenience of email has made it a lot easier to reach out to your favorite game company; just look up their website and dig up their contact information. When you write to them, speak to your passion for their product(s), your experience with it, and ask if they are looking for contributors. Consider that you are a stranger to their tavern and that game writing requires trust and accountability. If there isn’t work immediately available, ask how you can volunteer (online playtesting, proofreading, social media sharing, convention planning, etc). Why not begin building that trust, that relationship, while you wait for work?
We live in the day and age of self publishing. It has never been easier to acquire the tools of the RPG trade and to learn them with online tutorials. If you have the time and ambition, you can make your own game from scratch! That said, all you really need to get started as a freelance game writer is a word processor, an email address, and a PayPal account.
I hope that you write a wonderful web of weaved words effortlessly strung together, clearly concise, and well thought through. But if not, don’t fret, you are not alone. Your written words will be revised and proofread. Editors are your friend. Every writer needs someone to read their words unblinded by a brain that blurs typos and misspelled words back together again. Editors will also help you zero in on your best points and help you write clearer and more concise. Publishers will have someone edit and proofread your work. It is going to need revisions, but your contribution will be all the better for it! There is a reason why we are taught to write (draft), then rewrite papers, after all.
What It is Like
Having both self published and freelanced (writing), I can tell you, each is a worthy endeavor for the lifelong lover of RPGs. It just might be the quest you’ve been looking for in these trying times. You just need to be honest with yourself about what you can commit to. Take work that interests you. Look for jobs that are small at first to get your bearings. You want to under commit and over deliver. That requires getting a feel for what your writing process is like and the necessary time or creative load it will require of you. The worst thing that you can do is to promise you’ll have something to deliver, and to show up empty-handed. Unforeseen problems always occur but you just need to maintain good communication and keep employers informed of possible delays or interruptions ahead of time.
This has never been an industry hoarding gold, other than the imaginary kind that you give to your players. But, if you’re passionate, communicate regularly, and are willing to learn, then you can write for RPGs. New writers can expect to start at 1 to 6 cents a word, so give some thought to the value of that when committing your time. Obviously, any writing skills, talents, or feats you possess will only improve your chances of succeeding at your new class. So, go forth, and look onto the horizon with hope. Share the worlds in your head and help us imagine a prosperous place with thriving communities taking advantage of their time together in the outside world.
We’ll be there again soon.
Stay safe. I wish you and your family the best of health during this difficult time. Stay strong out there!
Have you written for a publisher before? If yes, what was your experience like? If no, what is stopping you?
Have any tips for new game writers?