How do you get Narrative Design gigs?
- Edwin McRae
The more work you’ve done, the more work you’ll get.
Life loves to be deliciously ironic, doesn't it? ;-)
Impressing prospective clients is all about having a lineup of completed projects to show them. But how do you score those projects in the first place?
You make your own projects!
There are now so many platforms upon which you can prove your skills as a narrative designer. You could create an interactive story for free in Episodes or you could write and publish an interactive fiction novel through Choice of Games. You could create a small RPG in RPGmaker, an exploration game with Gamemaker Studio 2, or you could forge a story-driven 2D game in Gamefroot. For the more technically minded, you could write an interactive fiction piece in Ink Script and publish it as an html webpage, or use the Unity/Ink interface to turn it into an app. Godot and Unreal also have Ink interfaces. Or you might want to use something with a visual scripting interface like EarReality or Twine, or a visual novel engine like Ren’py.
Impressive, self-made narrative projects beat a CV of related writing work, and the two together make for a strong proposition. There’s also the possibility, in the case of apps (e.g. Ink/Unity and Choice of Games) that you will be able to earn some money from your project through sales.
But let’s say you’ve completed some projects of your own already? How do you grab the attention of potential clients after that?
A website and a LinkedIn profile. To this day, they remain my best sources of new work. I display my portfolio of projects on both, and offer some extra value on my website through blog posts about narrative design, Ink Script and LitRPG. Blogging might seem ‘old fashioned’ but it still work as long as you are sharing useful knowledge. And after creating your own projects, you’ll have plenty of knowledge to share.
Please note that I’m talking about clients, not employers. I’ve always been a remote freelancer so wouldn’t know the first thing about getting a staff writer position at a studio. Freelance pays the bills and the above approaches are what I use to build and promote my portfolio.
And what do I do when the freelance work dries up for a week or two? I create a project for myself by either writing a book or using one of the above platforms to create an interactive fiction piece.
There’s never any shortage of work to be done. And the more work you can show, the more likely someone will pay you to do some work for them.
For a deeper dive into narrative design as a career, maybe check out Narrative Design for Writers.
About Edwin McRae
Edwin is a narrative consultant and mentor for the games industry.