Photo: Alex Clarke

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (of which I’m a member, and sit on the video games committee) recently hosted a week-long series of daily online panels about writing for games, covering a variety of topics.

One of the most popular was the final panel, discussing the art and process of worldbuilding. I was thrilled to take part, sharing the virtual stage with a panel of great writers and narrative designers. You can watch the event here: https://youtu.be/pH8lZXAh0Mw

During the panel, our live audience used the webinar’s Q&A function to ask questions in real time. And there were a lot


Before you read this, you should watch CROSSOVER POINT on YouTube.

I never wanted to direct.

In fact, when I was shopping around an indie spec script in 2019, several producers assumed I intended to direct, should it go forward, and I said hell no. The last thing I directed was a high school play (sure, it won the annual festival, but that was thirty years ago) and I know how all-consuming features are. I’ve got work to do, you know?

Except.

Except it turns out that there’s a way to do this on a small scale. Thanks to advances…


*** ADDENDUM TO INDUCTION MANUAL WTF-4Q-8 ***

LAST REVISED 2039–10–27

Memo author: Gen. Sykes, A. L. — click here for contact database

  1. INTRODUCTION

i. We understand many of you will have further questions after reading this induction manual, particularly the section to which this memo is attached.

ii. This addendum will attempt to anticipate and answer the most immediate, drawing on our own experience of inductees and years of WTF management.

2. QUESTIONS

i. WHY NOT JUST KILL HIM?

A common first question, but one with no simple answer. First, insanity is not a capital offense. …


Originally posted in Antony’s newsletter.

THE TEMPUS PROJECT went off to my beta readers this week. I joked online that in some ways it’s more stressful than submitting to an editor, and I was only half-joking — for me, at least, what I send to beta readers is still very much unfinished, and several revision passes away from what will eventually be called the First Draft.

I’m an iterative writer — I like to get a quick version down, then tidy and polish it, then get feedback, then revise it based on that feedback, then tidy and polish it some…


Originally posted in Antony’s newsletter.

Talk about third-hand; there’s an old quote from Neil Gaiman, which I never heard myself but was related to me by Kelly Sue DeConnick, which was in response to someone at a Q&A. The questioner was struggling to write their first novel, and asked Gaiman if, once he’d written his first book, things got easier because then he knew how to do it. He responded, probably to the questioner’s despair: “I don’t think you ever really learn how to write a book. You just learn how to write this particular book.”

If you’re not a…


Originally posted in Antony’s newsletter.

Last weekend I was in Dublin for Writers Game, a new conference focused on bringing together writers of different disciplines — books, film, videogames, graphic novels, and virtual reality — to share our experience and learn from each other.

I was asked to deliver a talk, and as my career encompasses all of those disciplines and more, I focused on how exactly I’ve been able to do that (spoilers: mostly saying yes to new and interesting proposals despite not knowing what the hell I’m doing) and the skills I’ve developed along the way.

It was…


This piece was written for and first published in GIG OF MY LIFE, a zine produced to benefit the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, edited by Danny Smith.

“Find your enemy, and devote your life to fighting it.”

In these heightened times that may sound like an oddly aggressive thing to say, a partisan political statement that could easily be mouthed by either side in our new world era. But in fact I’m quoting Henry Rollins, from a gig almost ten years ago at the Lowry. Such combative words have never felt more relevant.

The young ’uns among you may not know that Henry Rollins — DJ, author…


Originally posted in Antony’s newsletter.

As a teenager in the 1980s I fell deep into the Michael Moorcock Eternal Champion-shaped hole and burned my way through his Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon/Count Brass, and Jerry Cornelius books and stories. They were of varying quality, to be sure; Moorcock was famously prolific in those days, and literally writing a novel (or rewriting several short stories to combine them into a novel) over a long weekend to pay off your tax bill is no way to be precious about quality control.

But as happened to so many others, something about the sheer imaginative lunacy…


Originally posted in Antony’s newsletter.

In conversation with my friend Glenn Fleishman the other day, on the evergreen freelancer’s gripe of being expected to work for free, I was reminded of an amusing incident from a few years ago.

Regular readers will know I was the scriptwriter on the videogame DEAD SPACE, which has come to be regarded as something of a classic and was credited with reviving the survival horror genre’s fortunes. It was a decade ago (yikes), but classics endure — to this day I still get asked about, and thanked for, my part in the game.

So…


Originally posted in Antony’s newsletter.

Ask three writers and you’ll get four different answers, goes the joke. This came up again in a particular context at Newcastle Noir, when fellow panelist Christopher Brookmyre described his latest novel PLACES IN THE DARKNESS as a “murder mystery set on a space station”… a reductive description that could also be used to describe THE FUSE, of course. And not just that — in fact, when I began writing THE FUSE, I casually mentioned it to a friend as a “sci-fi crime” story, at which point they said their next book was sci-fi crime…

Antony Johnston

Author: Atomic Blonde, The Tempus Project, The Organised Writer, lots more. Host of ‘Writing And Breathing’ podcast. Newsletter at http://ajwriter.substack.com

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