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Write Your Way into Animation and Games: Create a Writing Career in Animation and Games Paperback – 21 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (21 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 024081343X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240813431
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 19.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,447,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, California. Christy Marx is a writer, story editor, series developer, game designer, and interactive writer. Her many credits include: Babylon 5 and the Twilight Zone; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; He-Man; X-Men Evolution; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Lord of the Rings; Elfquest; and more.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 July 2012
Format: Paperback
I am someone who really enjoys writing and have for a long time considered doing it a bit more "professionally." As an outsider to the writing profession, I am not at all familiar with all the ways in which creative writing could lead to a career, or at least a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby. I picked up this book to see what animation and game writing is all about, and even thought I'll probably never do any of it for a living, this book still taught me many valuable lessons about these very exciting creative fields.

This book contains a truly remarkable amount of useful and actionable information. About a third of it is dedicated to animation, with the rest covering video games. Material is aimed at the beginners in these fields, although many later concepts may require some prior experience with animation or game writing. The book is filled with thorough and detailed examples and case studies, and it gives a very good overview of what sorts of assignments and work are the game and animation writers expected to encounter. In my opinion, this is not exactly a book for absolute beginners, and some prior experience in writing, animation, or game design would be highly recommended. The book ends with a few excellent tips and suggestions for actually finding animation and writing jobs. The bad news is that there are no easy shortcuts and the straightforward entry points into these fields. One needs to be very dedicated and willing to take a lot of different assignments and routs before really making it as a writer.

The book comes with a companion website, with a lot of additional material. It is overall a very comprehensive resource. Animation and game writing is definitely more art than science, but a book like this one can help avoid much of the aimless wanderings and learning by trial and error. It is very well written and exceptionally helpful. I highly recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A well written resource, but it's probably better for aspiring game writers 11 Sep 2011
By Lesley Aeschliman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Write Your Way Into Animation and Games: Create a Writing Career in Animation and Games is a book that contains pieces from several other books printed by Focal Press, as well as some new material written by Christy Marx to tie everything together. The title says the book covers both animation and games, which it does; however, only the first nine chapters actually cover animation. The remaining seventeen chapters focus on writing for games. But it should be noted that there are times in the game writing section where concepts from the animation section are referenced, so the animation portion does need to be included.

The animation portion of the book contains writings by two writers: Christy Marx (who has nearly 30 years of experience developing, story editing and writing animation series and features) and Jean Ann Wright (whose experience includes work with Hanna-Barbera, working as a freelance animation writer, and having her own business as an animation preproduction consultant). Both of these women provide great insight into the basics of writing for animation, as well as providing information on writing structure, character development, and information and advice for anyone who wants to try to break into the animation scriptwriting business. While some of the information provided by both of these women overlap somewhat, it turns out that one of them may only give a brief mention to a concept, while the other provides more in-depth information to flesh out the basic concept. As I read this section, I felt that both writers' information was very helpful and useful for an aspiring animation scriptwriter.

For the game writing portion, five writers are represented: Terry Borst (who has credits for game writing, as well as for screenwriting), Timothy Garrand (a principal user experience architect), Nick Iuppa (a designer of instructional media and game-based training), Christy Marx (who was written for games in the PC, console, and MMOG categories), and Carolyn Handler Miller (a pioneering writer in the field on nonlinear entertainment). The game writing section goes into more detail about the basics, because there's a lot more that goes into designing a game as opposed to an animation script. It also talks about how to create a work for digital storytelling, how to write and format a script for a game, how to go about writing and presenting the narrative for games, as well as what to expect when working as a digital storyteller and tips on potential ways to try to enter into the business of writing for games. Like with the animation section, some of the concepts are mentioned by multiple authors in different chapters, but one author is able to expand on a concept that another writer only touches on briefly in their chapter. For someone who is interested in game writing, the information included in this book is quite helpful; however, it probably would make the most sense to someone who already has some kind of knowledge about videogames.

This book is definitely designed to be used either as a textbook for a class or by someone who is interested in learning this information on their own. Some of the chapters include exercises at the end of them, which is why I think this could potentially work as a textbook for a college class. At the end of the table of contents, it mentions there are multimedia components for the book, and it lists a website where the content is located. I visited the site, and discovered that in order to access the information, you have to register at the site; registering for the site is free. At this point in time, I haven't registered to access the multimedia components, so I can't comment on how they enhance the information provided in the book.

Overall, this book is well done and well written, and provides a lot of helpful information from professionals who demonstrate that they are knowledgeable about their respective topic. However, this book is probably a better resource for someone who is interested in starting a career for game writing. For someone who is interested in starting a career in animation writing, they're probably better off locating a book that focuses more exclusively on animation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Resource for Beginners and Some Intermediates 25 Aug 2011
By R. C. Bowman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Before I can properly apply the book (which is textbook format, though a lot more interesting and fun than normal textbooks) here's a little background. I'm a lifelong writer, just now getting serious about publication, with an abiding passion for film (particularly animation) and video games. While I'm not bad on the designing end of the spectrum, writing is definitely my stronger suit. I researched screenwriting and animation writing in my teens, but, figuring I'd learn all this in film school (all of which accepted me, none of which helped me pay) I never took it seriously.

Fast-forward a few years. I'm still in love with writing; it's still a creative pursuit at which I excel (assuming I work very hard and polish each piece); I still love film, but that expensive hobby understandably got pushed onto a back burner. A few weeks ago, I began to wonder seriously, not idly as I've done for years, about what I could do to write for animation and games. Coincidentally, I stumbled across this book.

"Write Your Way into Animation and Games" is a fabulous resource for beginners, and even intermediates depending on what you're looking for. I was frustrated by the first chapters, which cover screenwriting basics and how to craft a simple story. I read them anyway (in case skipping would cause me to miss something). And I have to say, the advice is clear, concise, brief, thorough, and necessary. It was material I'm highly familiar with, but once I banished the "been through this before" conceit, the refresher did very well for me. I'd urge anyone not actually working in animation (not that you'd be picking up this book if you were) to please go over it. It's a little irritating at times, but the information is still valuable.

After the basics, it delves progressively deeper in terms of technique and resources. The information on animation writing, from script format to page count to dialogue and action balance, was fantastic. Without setting out any unbreakable rules, it gives a very clear idea of expectations and guidelines, which is much, much more helpful that something along the lines of "you always have to do this exactly this way."

My only disappointment--and it was fairly minor--was a relative lack of gaming resources. Writing for games and for animation is obviously very similar, but I was more interested in games than in animation at this point. I wish it had been more balances, or even biased in favor of game-writing. That said, given the amount of information and resources in this book, that really was a minor disappointment.

"Write Your Way into Animation and Games" is set up like a textbook. At very rare times, it reads like a textbook, but it's still a lot more interesting than most of the textbooks I have/am dealing with now. If the format would, for some reason, put you off, don't worry about it. This isn't dry reading. The writing is professional but vibrant, and bursting with examples (which I definitely need.) I can't promise this will be a perfect read for any beginner. But, overall, this was a really great guide for me, and I know I'll be using it in the future.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and Comprehensive Resource 10 July 2012
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am someone who really enjoys writing and have for a long time considered doing it a bit more "professionally." As an outsider to the writing profession, I am not at all familiar with all the ways in which creative writing could lead to a career, or at least a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby. I picked up this book to see what animation and game writing is all about, and even thought I'll probably never do any of it for a living, this book still taught me many valuable lessons about these very exciting creative fields.

This book contains a truly remarkable amount of useful and actionable information. About a third of it is dedicated to animation, with the rest covering video games. Material is aimed at the beginners in these fields, although many later concepts may require some prior experience with animation or game writing. The book is filled with thorough and detailed examples and case studies, and it gives a very good overview of what sorts of assignments and work are the game and animation writers expected to encounter. In my opinion, this is not exactly a book for absolute beginners, and some prior experience in writing, animation, or game design would be highly recommended. The book ends with a few excellent tips and suggestions for actually finding animation and writing jobs. The bad news is that there are no easy shortcuts and the straightforward entry points into these fields. One needs to be very dedicated and willing to take a lot of different assignments and routs before really making it as a writer.

The book comes with a companion website, with a lot of additional material. It is overall a very comprehensive resource. Animation and game writing is definitely more art than science, but a book like this one can help avoid much of the aimless wanderings and learning by trial and error. It is very well written and exceptionally helpful. I highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Most Important For What It Says About Developing A Career In The Field 30 Sep 2011
By Gregory McMahan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book, which strikes me more as a combination of a textbook and a memoir (a la how-I-got-into-show-business vein), covers all of the basics of writing an animated film and certain types of electronic games. It does a good job of presenting in a very down-to-earth and comprehensive fashion all of the basic terms, the general structure of the animated story (whether geared for TV or live action film) and the more typical simulated game, and the key elements of any script associated with them. The book also adequately shows how writing scripts for animation and gaming is similar to and most important, different from the more typical screenwriting associated with movies and TV.

The authors go to great length in their discussion of the care and feeding of editors and producers. Make no mistake- this is probably the most important element of writing for these types of media. That said, along these lines, based on a careful reading of this book, my key impressions of this kind of writing are as follows:

1. Script writing for these media in particular is very cookie-cutter in both approach and execution. But then, all commercial writing is this way.
2. Work within these media feeds off of collaboration and socializing. In this way, it's very unlike writing for magazines or publishing the book, which is more of a solitary process. In the latter media, the writer has the option of interaction with others and has some control over the process and the final product. In contrast, with animation and gaming, social interaction and collaboration is a requirement. Additionally, writers in the medium often find numerous constraints imposed upon them, and typically have much less control of the process and little or no control over the final product.
3. While it is definitely more lucrative than magazine or book writing, these media are also more convoluted in their execution, and requires a lot more schmoozing and networking.
4. Finally, I agree with Ms. Marx's most critical and very perceptive insight, which all aspiring writers looking to get into these media should keep in mind:

"The most difficult thing to sell in today's market is an original concept."

Truer words can not be said.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A great primer for a less known part of the writing world 5 Sep 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having written a few 1st drafts of novels, many short-stories & poetry, a screenplay and having read hundreds of books on these types of writing; I was definitely curious when I came across this book.

The book starts off reading like a primer in movie/tv script writing. The difference is many of the books on scriptwriting advise the writer to only provide the dialogue and description. Action will be as simple as "a car chase ensues". It's up to the direct to figure out what happens during the car chase and the camera shots for everything else.

In this book, you're giving the animator instructions on close up on a character or a different angle on another scene and you're providing the details on the action. This kind of writing takes the creative aspect of just writing to the next level by allowing the writer to direct too. I like it!

We even get a primer on the specific of writing a comic scene and all the different things that make fans of animation laugh.

I appreciate how at the end of each chapter the author gives us 10+ exercises as a great way to reinforce the previous chapter information and provide some direction for practicing writing.

Before heading in to the gaming world, the author spends some time explaining the Animation business and how to break into it with your writing projects. As this would be different than trying to publish a novel with a traditional publisher, this was a very helpful section.

I've worked for several software companies, and I appreciated the fact that author calls out that there isn't just a single writer hired to do the writing. In many cases it's the game designer who does the writing, some coding, artwork, and a myriad of other tasks. Thus, writing for games takes a greater skill set as you need to be able to lead a project...which writing is one small part.

Can a person just do the writing portion of a game? Yes.
But whether a coder vs. project manager vs. QA vs. release management...there are many aspects that go into game design and delivery. Realistically even the specialists are used across different departments and so writers shouldn't be surprised if they need skills in other areas of game development.

Animation is fairly linear, whereas certain games (i.e. RPG's) are non-linear. Thus the author points out through examples how writing for games is less straightforward as you are dealing with endless if/then scenarios and branching off quest lines.

NOTE: At this point many of us would get discouraged at the immensity of work game writing is compared to all other types of writing. But, I read somewhere that the game industry does more in billions of revenue than music and sports put together. Thus, it's a lucrative field to work in.
The author covers some key aspects I didn't know existed when dealing with immersing your game player into the story and making things interactive.

OVERALL:
This is a great primer to start thinking and working towards doing writing work in Animation and Gaming. Though the section on breaking into gaming writing was less clear or non-existent than the animation piece, it was overall a great place for anyone to start!
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