Neale Sourna: A Letter of Advice for Game Writing / Writers
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Hi, James:

Interesting topic: advice about getting into or back into game writing.

This is more than you probably want, but....

I've just been doing and trying, and building a usable background and now I'm here, writing my own stuff, but seeking new outside material and growth, too.

I published my first novel, HOBBLE, Oct 2002 to print, through Infinity Publishing's great contract and spirit (POD rules!, available to all and no inventory for me, yeah.) Epublished it with's help, and have since republished it and other works (short stories, novella, etc.). Everything has a link online [] and is for sale online because I do my own typesetting, design work (interiors and covers--Hobble's cover is my design but other's execution, all the rest are full me), ebook and print formatting, editing, yada-yada.

I publish as PIE: Perception is Everything []. I was working writing projects online through but I was picked by Darek Rusin of Orchid Games out of the air, on my side. I have my own interlinked writing site(s),,, with parts of stories or sequences online. I'm also a

Writing for games has been in mind for awhile, but I was just starting to make proposals for projects; my strengths being: individualized dialog, visual and visceral impact, sensual (in the sense that I write to all the senses not just the visual or aural), and multilayered, emotional characters. And I can write from a write from a strong male or female POV.

That's why I'm Neale not Neal, which it was originally, no one should be able to definitely tell if I'm male or female, only assume that if the character's female, then I must be, too.

But, I've shocked more than once, when my guy characters, like in HOBBLE and a military novel intro I wrote at Elance for some military guys, have lead the reader to assume I'm male.

My first gig with Darek, and I've forgotten that it's my first contract, the first Heartwild text [the "Heartwild Solitaire: Author's Edition"/M for Mature edition], was done through Elance (I steered him to it, with its third party interface for payments, msg and working doc archives, and gripe oversight abilities, and Darek was very gracious and still is, because Elance had difficulty at the time in handling payments from Poland), but since we've just worked through direct email and PayPal.

He hired me to write a "short story for a computer game" [Jan 2007] and we decided on a bid rate proposal. I always negotiate and bill a percentage portion to start the project.

Darek liked the intro I'd done with a hardcore [fellatio] story I'd published (ebook--Adobe, MS, Mobipocket) about a Korean American basketballer [ SEE "Yune: Suck My Kiss/- - - -"] and two of his, well, blowjobs. Darek liked the way the story was instantly immersive, emotional, and sensual; plus able to pull the reader full in, like a great TV show teaser.

I'm still writing for him with Heartwild 2's branched story text and tarot (the first was a single story, as you may now) just recently done (the artwork's gorgeous!), a Heartwild Quiz--see links from or Google. A great and gentle step into the game writing / production world. He really knows what he wants, and has a great "ear" for text (and it's his second language! I'm still coming to grips with my first.)

By then, I'd signed back into and made proposals for and won two contracts in 2008, besides my own writing and anything else for Darek at Orchid Games or that's novel writing / ghostwriting / editing, creative writing (short stories), and editing / ghostwriting screenplays.

At Guru, I did the new story, dialog, text, basic story design plans for a table book RPG the "Berlin'61" series, "Berlin'61: The Wall." The concept is cthulhu, detective, spy based series in 1961 Berlin just in the hours before and as the Berlin Wall is going up. The series owner is a soldier in Berlin and I haven't heard from him in email, or his usual forums, or sales outlets as to the outcome of the project.

Then, at Guru, I started with Greg Denness at Inertia Software/Studios, U.K. and penned the supporting story texts for their "The Secret of Margrave Manor" which is some seventy entries of Excel-based story segments of dialog, journal entries, letters, magazine bits, etc. Some became puzzles.

Greg gives me a checklist document of cutscenes and art scene / basic plot points he wants hit and then I write whatever my imagination wants that includes those. We tweak, and through questions back and forth, and do new cutscenes or character dialog that intrigues but doesn't distract. "Margrave Manor 2: The Lost Ship" is my text as well.

Inertia edits my text more. But, maybe that's because I've been new enough not to ask what EXACTLY is the text character restraints.

Orchid and I make a novel, basically, and its softcore sensual / softly erotic but then, Sandlot does a E for everyone pass. Argh! How many 6 year-olds play solitaire?

Okay, so much for background, James, I guess MY advice is if you feel a novel in you, start writing--it's good for giving you a long-range, deep focus in long story telling.

But, I find that short story telling is probably more useful.

And you CAN do both.

I have a contract with an Australian client, I write creative fiction for her, short stories is the contract, romantic and wedding and anniversary stuff (a little scifi on the side).

One story "Becca," instead of being a short story or 2 or 3 scenes of a short story became a short story "novel". Which I'm now turning into a novel, with that client's permission; it won't be published in the same way. And the Outback and Samurai stories easily can be story bases for games.

A regular novel, I've been using one to learn the NeverWinter Aurora tool [required for EA writing submissions and easier for a writer to see and do design, I feel so far] is harder to glean down to game depth, but a short story is already lean.

Doing contract writing has taught me how to interact clearly with clients no matter how "far" away they are. The clients I have problems with are the ones who never communicate to me, they want me to be totally tuned into them--which I can--if they give me feedback. Without it, I CAN'T DO MY JOB, and they get scared that my "wonderful, visionary streak and grasp of character and authentic dialog" is something they're not prepared for, because they don't answer their emails and read my many updates, as I've repeatedly asked.

No feedback means I'm doing well, right? Yeah, right.

Get interaction and tell them you can't progress, UNTIL THEY GIVE YOU REAL FEEDBACK. Or, you'll part with a project unfinished and pay you will never receive.


Publish (author publishing rules!).


Get up a site [ is great, lots for $10 and erotica friendly] of work excerpts (public or locked access).

Do proposals and jobs for others, off or online, it'll give you ammunition for your resume and confidence to sound like you can write the next huge whatever.

Is that helpful?


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