Welcome to Librarium Online!
...and I'm thinking Black Library.
Let me explain- this isn't just GW fandom "ZOMG I wanna rite fanfiks!"
I just dropped out of college for a bunch of reasons that I won't be explaining. I was majoring in English, focusing on creative writing, and minoring in Secondary (highschool) education. Now I've managed to accrue 17k in college loans, and I need to pay them back.
I'd kill to become a published writer, but I have this problem with hitting creative droughts. The work that I do for myself tends to come out muddied and usually suffers from being too broad (apparently, you can't criticize social order, the war in Iraq, religion, and write a good sci-fi all at once: try as you might James Cameron).
When I write for LO however, in the arenas or when I was still working heavily with Fluff, I have no trouble finding compelling stories.
So I was wondering if any of you LOers might know how you go about becoming a writer for GW or for Black Library. I wouldn't mind handling fluff in their codecies/armybooks, or writing up whole novels which legally take place in their universe. And if it helps pay the college loans... well then I suppose that's an added bonus.
I was going to just print a whole bunch of my stuff, and submit it "portfolio style" to GW, but I don't even know where to send it.
Any help guys?
At the recent Live event BL ran, they said that more than anything else they're looking for a plot synopsis that's somewhat different. You also need to be able to describe your story in a sentence or two, and not have it be "Captain X fights orks on a moon", but in terms of character progression (i.e. Captain X learns to deal with Survivor's Guilt after he sends his best friend to die - he can learn to deal with it while blowing up orks, but the fights - while important - isn't what makes a story).
As an aspiring writer myself, I feel your pain as to writer's block, but I have to tell you, if you think you can write for Black Library, you're gonna be sorely disappointed, and you may have your sights set on the wrong target in the first place.
There used to be a great article on this on the Science Fiction Writers of America's Web site, but I can't find it now. I'll do my best to summarize what I remember from it.
I can't speak for the Black Library, or realitycheque's suggestion that they take submissions, but typical series genre fiction (a la Star Wars, Star Trek, Warhammer, 40k, Forgotten Realms, etc.) has a VERY strict set of standards when it comes to what they publish, and it's not the same set of standards that ordinary publishers (mainstream or genre fiction) set.
For example, they don't want to "rock the boat." In other words, it is EXTREMELY rare that you'll see a story where, say, a principal character dies, or an event that has realm-changing consequences is allowed to take place. If you really let your creative juices flow, you may find it hard to come up with stories you'll enjoy writing while avoiding these land mines.
Furthermore, many of these companies (TSR, GW, etc.) are using publishing as a marketing tool. They don't REALLY want to sell books. They want to sell more toys, movie tickets, video games, and in GW's case, little plastic and metal men, women, creatures, etc. It's not just that they don't care about "literature." They don't even care much about good storytelling. I'm not saying there are no good stories in these books. There are, but the publishers are not motivated by good storytelling.
This makes it VERY hard for a mainstream writer, even a mainstream genre fiction writer, to break in. More likely, you'll be approached by the BL to write something for them, and that's only AFTER you've established yourself as a published author elsewhere. To tell you the truth, that's probably how it SHOULD be. The fiction you see in these books is a niche market within a niche market, catering to a very small but fanatically loyal audience. Even if you DID wind up writing for BL, it won't make you rich, and it won't open as many doors for you elsewhere in the publishing world as you think it will. Landing a writing gig like what you're talking about should be a perk you get after you make it big, not a means to making it big in the first place.
I'm not trying to talk you out of becoming a published writer. It's my dream, too. I'm just suggesting you start elsewhere. If you like sci-fi/fantasy writing and want to break in, have a look at the SFWA's Web site (Clicky!), and read Stephen King's On Writing. Both are fine sources of both inspiration and information. Reading through them might give you what you need to break out.
One last bit of advice: Don't worry about critiquing the social order, or religion, or what-have-you. If a story seizes you and compels you to write, write it, and worry about the underlying theme later. Feed that urge! The inspiration is where it all starts. It doesn't matter if it's perfect, or even if nobody else reads it. You write for YOU first and foremost. Stay true to that, and you'll write well.
I'd absolutely give it a go. The worst thing they can say is "no", whereas you can deliver your work somewhere else.
A pity you dropped out of college by the way. Are you aiming at anything specific at the moment?
If you're "just looking for a job" I can reccomend your local super market.
5000p. High Elves
I read my first Black Library novels just some time ago (so I'm no expert), but based on them I'm sure you need to follow a certain style (like Canew mentioned). One thing I noticed was that the writers had somewhat similar backgrounds:
- Steve Lyons: written novels, short stories, comic strips
- Steve Parker: short fiction for sci-fi magazines, has worked as video game writer
- Mitchel Scanlon: novelist and comic writer
It might be a good way to get into the business by approaching sci-fi magazines with your stories...
I used to write as freelance for a magazine and the way I got in was that I sent them a sample article. I'm not sure any more, but I think already the first one I wrote was based on a topic area that they gave me (a really simple short thing). After that they asked me to write on specific topics and after a while I started suggesting my own. This was non-fiction though.
I already have a job as a linecook and a bartender, but it's not what I want to do forever.
I took a look at the SFWA site, I only saw the mobile version but I like what I see. I have to admit that I have no idea how to start a career writing fiction, but I guess there's Google for that.
"All I know is a door into the dark" -- The Forge, Seamus Heaney
You'll need to start small. Short stories, articles, etc. WHILE you work on bigger, personal projects. If you can get involved in a larger corporation that supports specific mythos then you'll need a lot of background and the ability to demonstrate diverse styles of writting, you need to have a flexible style to show you can fit in with the company as well as provide a unique take.
If you cannot streamline your own creative process into completing stand alone fiction then you'll have trouble breaking into the field.
Focus on the plot rather than the metaphorical aspects of your writing. If you want to convey an ideal, criticism or proposition you need to focus on one central theme and stick to that, you can always write more stories, you can't always hammer up a screwup in the overarching plots when decent plot and politicking start butting heads.
Not all stories need a moral. If you want something moralistic write it as a separate project. It will appeal to a completely different audience anyway. Decent fiction should NOT suffer the forcing of a thematic motif at the expense of the literary quality. Neither should it be a point to include unecessary literary technique at the expense of demonstration of ability if it does not ultimately add to the quality of the material.
Writing for profit is not like writing for academics.
Fantasy: Wood Elves, Dark Elves, Beastmen and Tomb Kings.
LotR: Misty Mountains and Rohan