Frequently Asked Questions
How did you become a writer at Telltale?
"Unconventionally", is the short version, ha. My writing career started in LA where I was doing a lot of development and writing for cartoons and animated movies. (Here’s a post about my “Career Path” and how I ended up at Telltale.) I've loved Telltale's work for ages and sent in an application shortly after the first season of The Walking Dead because I heard they were starting to expand. At the time, they were only looking for people with game writing experience (which I didn't have) so I asked if I could use my animation background to join the cinematic department, shadow the writers, and work on my writing portfolio to reapply. Thankfully, they said yes, and the rest is history.
Do you have advice for getting a job writing games?
Writing for games is a funny field with people bringing their experience from all over. At Telltale our writing team includes novelists, playwrights, TV writers, indie filmmakers… It sounds like cliched advice, but honestly the best thing you can do to get a job writing for games is to start making games of your own using some of the many amazing free tools out there like Twine, Unity, Adventure Game Studio, and Game Maker. Once you've made games, share them with people, collaborate.... there are tons of game jams and communities out there that you can join - a few of those under your belt and you'll suddenly have a portfolio!
I think I'd be a great video game writer. I have lots of ideas.
Well, first of all that's not a question, second of all... "Having ideas" isn't really what being a video game writer is all about. Everyone "has ideas." Being a video game writer is... well, maybe you should just read veteran game writer David Gaider's article on being a game writer.
What games have you worked on?
I've been at Telltale since May 2013 and in that time I've been fortunate to work on The Walking Dead Season 2, Tales from the Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode, Batman: The Telltale Series, and my current assignment as the lead writer of Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2.
What do you write besides video games?
Outside of video games, I primarily write feature films but I've been starting to branch out into TV, comics, and VR experiences. None of those have actually been made yet though.
What college should I attend to become a writer?
When I was in high school I actually sent a letter to Brad Bird (the screenwriter and director of The Incredibles, Iron Giant, Ratatouille) asking him the same exact question. My dream was to be a writer for animated movies and it was so hard to figure out how to achieve that goal, where to go to college, what to study... He gave me some great advice: Write as much as you can, and go to whatever school will teach you to be a better storyteller. I ended up going to the University of Southern California (USC) to study animation and screenwriting, I have friends who are wonderful writers who went to Emerson, NYU, Brown... There are lots of great film schools all over the country, but almost every liberal arts college or university these days is going to have classes on writing and/or film which, if you work hard, can give you the education you need to start becoming a great writer.
Do you have recommendations for books about screenwriting?
Here are a few of the books I recommend to beginning writers:
- Story by Robert McKee - This one is pretty thick, but all the lessons are gold. Really great book on story, character, etc. in a way that's not specific to screenwriting but just writing in general.
- Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder - Some people don't like this one because it turns screenwriting into a formula, but it's also one of the best beginner screenwriting books ever written. The examples used in it are a teeny bit old, but the lessons all hold up.
- Screenplay by Syd Fields - An older book, but still a classic. Fantastic book about scene construction, formatting, dialogue, etc.
Do you think having a writing degree is important for being a writer?
Unlike some jobs that like to ask about your degree and where you went to college, when you're trying to get work as a writer, people don't necessarily care where you went to school, what your degree is in... they care that you're good at writing and that you're a hard worker. I think the most valuable things college can teach you are the value of hard work, how to be organized, and how to be a professional, kind person. Wherever you end up going to school, whatever you end up studying, you should use it as an opportunity to learn as much as you can about everything and develop the skills you need to be hard-working and dedicated to your craft.
What is your favorite video game?
I'm going to cheat and list off some of my favorites in no particular order: The Monkey Island series, Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, Beyond Good & Evil, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Kirby's Dreamland, Super Smash Bros. (N64).
What software do you use to write?
At Telltale we use a piece of in-house software called simply "The Tool." For my personal writing I use Final Draft (for screenplays) and Apple Pages (for everything else). But honestly what I use to write the most are my notebooks and pens. I like the feeling of actually scratching away at paper.
When is the next episode/season of ______ coming out?
Unless it's on the Telltale website, I'm really not allowed to say.
Is Telltale going to make __________?
Sorry, I just write 'em. I don't have anything to do with the business side.
Can you get me a job?
If there's a job you think you're qualified for, I'm certainly willing to chat with you about it!
Will you read my script/play my game/give me feedback and advice?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can't promise I'll respond right away, but I'll do my best.
Will you make Minecraft: Story Mode Season 3? When is MCSM Season 3 coming out? Will there ever be more MCSM?? (etc)
Seriously I have no idea. Please stop texting my cellphone to ask me.