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Variant 1: I like X but I don't know how to do X. So I want to write for X instead.

(e.g. I like comics but I don't know how to draw, so I want to write for comics.)

Variant 2: Writing for X must be easy since I see badly-written X all the time. How do I break into the X-writing business?"

X is typically comicbooks, film, television, videogames.

I think this is more of a "how do I get a job" question than a writing question. I'm not sure it's off-topic, but the answers are not about writing, they are about applying for jobs, finding creative partners, and advice on an entire industry.

What's the REAL question?

I think, often, what they are really saying is they believe there is a low bar for that kind of work so the writing "job" must be easy. The fact that they do not do X is a problem. They will not be prepared to write in service to the actual product. The only way they will develop that skillset is to do it. They also assume incorrectly that the final version is what the writer had intended, rather than a series of compromises and commercial decisions outside the writer's control.

The usual answers:

  1. Find an X and partner up.
  2. Submit writing samples to an agent or publisher.
  3. Try to make an X yourself

How I answer is "Try to make an X yourself. It points them in the right direction (where they will meet the potential partners and learn about the industry) and encourages them to write (which will answer a lot of the un-asked questions) rather than look for another person to give them permission to start writing.

The problem is that my answers get criticized for "not answering the question" because it is not directly leading to "getting a job".

I am encouraging the OP to write an X. He does not need to wait for a partner or outside approval, and those things will not magically materialize. No one will give him a job he is as yet unqualified for. By doing it, he is gaining experience.

I don't want to argue in comments about the legal issues of submitting unsolicited work to agents and publishers (most will not even look) – that's not how industry jobs work, but it's not my agenda to tear down other answers. That's what voting is for.

Is there a better way to handle these questions? I honestly feel they are partly "How do I get a job" questions, which I'm not even sure is on topic.

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  • I hope I got your intent right with my title edit. If not, please do Edit further; as it was, I basically had to read all the way to the bottom before I even had any idea what you were talking about. – user Dec 28 '18 at 12:32
  • Thank you @aCVn . I have edited and simplified. – wetcircuit Dec 29 '18 at 14:49
  • I think you need a Y in there. You can't say "write about X instead" when the previous talk is about X. I didn't want to just edit it but I suggest you do. I know the posts you're referring to but some of your premise isn't clear. – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 29 '18 at 19:05
  • @Cyn, there is no Y. They are saying they want to be a part of an industry (gaming, comics) but they don't have the primary skill (programing, drawing), so they will write instead. They ask for advice how to get writing jobs in that industry, or how to find artists with the primary skill to make their ideas…. They are usually fans of the industry (gaming, comics). It's not really a writing question, they are not asking "In my comic which I am writing…" instead they are asking "How do I get a job writing comics…?" or "Where do I find comic artists to draw my ideas…" I hope that makes sense…? – wetcircuit Dec 29 '18 at 20:37
  • Not really I'm afraid. You say: "I like X but I don't know how to X. So I want to write for X instead." It's that word "instead" that is throwing me. I'll also point out that some of the posts I roll my eyes at say "I sneer at X but I want to write it because $$$ and, seriously, how hard can it be?" – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 29 '18 at 21:07
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    Ahh wait I think I just got where you were going with this. The instead refers not to choosing X as a topic but to writing instead of doing. I can't recall any questions like that though. – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 29 '18 at 21:12
  • I've read a few (2-3). OP wants to be part of a professional entertainment product (ie: made by a team). It is similar to asking "How do I get published?", but instead they are asking "How do I get a creative role (paid or not) on a team".... MY ISSUE: I treat it as a writing question (walk before you run), some treat it as job question (get an agent), and others treat it as a friendly collaboration…. Writing this, I realize there are gaps in all these approaches... – wetcircuit Dec 29 '18 at 22:16
  • @user57423, thank you! – wetcircuit Dec 30 '18 at 13:13
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I think the best answer to this kind of question is twofold. One part is to suggest that the asker learn about the field they want to get involved in, as you have suggested.

You don't have to be able to draw to write great comic books, but you do need to understand what drawing comic books entails. You should be familiar with the process, know how comic book artists work, the time constraint, the technical requirements and limitations of the reproduction and printing processes, and so on. You don't have to be able to code a computer game to write great computer games, but you need to understand the hardware and software that make up the game, the financing aspect, how games are marketed, who plays them, and so on.

But there is another aspect of your question as well, and that is the belief that many beginners hold that writing is easy. Which it is not.

Most people think that because they are able "to form (characters, symbols, etc.) on a surface with an instrument (such as a pen)" (write meaning 1) and "to communicate information using written language" (write meaning 2) they are able to narrate a story (write meaning 3a fiction) or present complex facts (write meaning 3b non-fiction), and they are irritated and frustrated that their readers seem not to "get" their texts and that their submissions are rejected by publishers who don't see the true value of the selves they have so self-lovingly projected onto paper.

The answer to this sould be, in my opinion, to explain to these beginners in a respectful and empowering way that their writing sucks and that they have to first learn to write (meaning 3) before they importune other people with their emanations.

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