Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Career News for Me

Well, I got some exciting stuff in the mail yesterday... My first contract as a freelance developer for White Wolf.

Which, of course, means absolutely nothing to anyone who'd be reading this post. :)

Let me explain. :)

Basically, the process for creating a new game book for White Wolf is this. Someone (could be virtually anyone along the hierarchy, from gamer to owner of the company) has an idea for a book. If it is a Good Idea, and if they write up a proposal for it, it may get approved to be made into a book. At this point, someone (sometimes the person who proposed it, sometimes the person who will be in charge of developing it from Good Idea to Book) writes up an outline. This contains things like what will be in the book, and how long it will be, and a rough idea of how the chapters might be organized.

Once the outline is done up, they figure out which developer it should be given to. There are a number of in-house developers. Some are in charge of a particular game line like Werewolf or Mage and are called line developers. While they may not personally develop every game in that line on their own, they are the person ultimately responsible for it.

Since a line developer can't give each book in their line the individual attention it requires (especially since sometimes there are 4-5 books in a line being worked on at the same time), they use other developers. Some are there in Atlanta where the main office is, and may be on staff (salary/hourly wage) with the company. Others, like my friend Matt in Ohio and Joseph in Portland (and now me!) are "freelance developers". We're folks who've proven our reliability as freelance writers, and are now given the chance to be the developer of a book that the line developers don't have time to handle themselves.

The developer then fleshes out the outline into a real working outline that the writers will base their material on. He (or she, although as far as I know I'm the only female developer White Wolf is using right now) then hires the writers, assigns them sections of the book, fills out their contracts, and supervises the rough draft of the book being created. When the authors are done with the rough draft, the developer edits it (a process called "redlining").

Redlines can be as simple as "fix these spelling/grammar errors" or as complicated as "you're going in the wrong direction with this, try to give it more of this kind of a feel" or "this violates what the other writer wrote about this same topic, change it to be like this." With a good team, redlines are just fine tuning - making sure the final draft is as good a product as possible.

Redlines go back to the writers, who then make the requested changes and send their final copy back to the developer. At this point, the writers' job is pretty much done, and it's all in the hands of the developer. They combine all the bits and pieces from each writer into one complete document and then give it another edit to make sure that not only is the information in it accurate, well written and doesn't contradict itself, but also that it's formatted correctly and that there are no spelling, grammar, punctuation errors, etc.

Then the developer sends it off to the editor, who (ideally) has nothing to do (but that never happens...) The editor is the last set of eyes to see the work before it goes to lay out (the people who determine how it will look on the page, adding text and art, etc. I think the developer gets to see it one more time, post-lay out, but by then making changes is a big pain in the neck, so it's vital that any errors get fixed earlier in the process.

In the case of Reliquary, I pitched the idea to the folks at the main office a few months ago. They not only thought it was a good idea, they were already working on a very similar concept, and so I was assured I'd be called in to work on the book as a writer. (They even ended up using the name, Reliquary, from my proposal, as it was cooler than the one they'd been using for the similar project.)

I found out, in December, that they'd approached my friend, Joseph, wanting him to be the developer for it. Joe was too busy, however, so when I heard he had turned them down, I went insane and decided to write and ask to be hired as the developer for it. And... to my shock and delight... they agreed.

So, at this point, I've constructed a team of writers for the book, revised the outline and am ready to send it out to them, and then I'll basically just be in supervisor mode for the next month while they write the rough drafts. After that, it gets hard. :)

I'm very excited, and wanted to share a little insight into what my current job duties are like... I'm still writing as well (I've got about 11K of word count in Reliquary, plus two other books I'm writing on between now and March) but it's neat to be spreading my wings a little into a new direction as well.


Patricia said...

COngratulations! Sounds like you are going to be one busy girl!!

Marlyn said...

Way to go Chris. So proud of you.