How An Editor Can Improve Your Writing

The other day I got a text from my friend Eric.

Eric: Do you want grammar notes on something you posted? You have a comma splice in that status about Prime Day. That comma should be a period.

He was referring to an email I had sent out that was also on Facebook and Twitter. The conversation continued, and apparently, I was feeling snarky that day:

Garrett: It’s a newsletter not a thesis paper

Eric: No offense, but the only reason I brought it up is because it’s a newsletter that you’re using to try and make money. Grammar is important for that. At least to me. It looks sloppy and that’s a false impression because you’re not sloppy with your work.

I had two email headlines being A/B tested:

  • What Amazon Prime Day means for writers and readers
  • It’s Amazon Prime Day, how can that benefit you as a writer and reader?

The second one, the one with the comma splice, had 36.4% open rate. The other one had a 9.1% open rate.

Of course, that could have nothing to do with the grammar. Despite the splice, it may just be a really well-written title.

Regardless, Eric is right. People who are looking for writers and editors may not know grammar well enough to catch that, but what if some do? What if I missed an opportunity to be hired by one of my favorite publishers or game studios because they saw that title and decided I wasn’t a good enough writer?

Everything we share should radiate professionalism.

I’ve got a few confessions to make:

  1. I’m pretty bad at comma splices, I do it all the time.
  2. I’m not 100% sure I know how to use a semi-colon.
  3. I’m generally not good at editing my own work (but great at editing others’).

If I want to edit something well, I need to write it ahead of time and come back to it much later. If I try to edit shortly after writing, I miss a lot of things. It’s because I’m too close to the work still. We’re in the honeymoon phase.

It might be the same for you.

That’s why I recommend doing two things:

  1. Self-edit your work a few days after writing.
  2. Get an editor to look at your work.

Hiring an editor can get expensive very quickly, especially if you’re creating content on a weekly basis. When you’re just starting out, it’s fine to self-edit your work. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to separate the emotion from the piece. Don’t edit when you’re still on the honeymoon with your art.

I also recommend this (mostly) free tool called Grammarly. It will point out a lot of things that need correcting. It’s more powerful than just a regular spell check. You can do a lot with the free version, but if you’re serious about your writing business, you’ll want to pick up the paid version.

Grammarly in action.

Click here to check out Grammarly for free.

If you’re just getting started building a business with writing, just use what free tools you have access to and self-edit. Once you start making money, it’s a good idea to invest back into yourself and upgrade Grammarly, as well as hire an editor when you reach that point.

Editors do more than just check Grammar. They’ll be able to tell you what flows and what doesn’t. They’ll be able to make suggestions on better ways to word what you’re saying. They’ll also be able to tell you where information is lacking, or maybe you’re giving too much information.

There are many benefits to hiring an editor, so when you can: it’s going to improve your career.

Quick Take-Aways:

  • Don’t self-edit to soon after writing.
  • Use Grammarly.
  • Hire an editor as soon as you can afford it.

Stop Telling New Game Designers (and Devs) to “Climb The Ladder”

Any social site where people talk about game design or game development will always have this one question frequently asked:

“I have a lot of ideas for games but I don’t know how to program and I’m not good at art. How do I get into game design? My favorite game designers are X, Y, and Z.”

And the answer to this question is, without fail, always:

“Learn to program or get good at art, start working for a company, work your way up. That’s how your favorite game designers did it.”

I absolutely can not stand this answer.

Here’s A Better Answer

There’s a pretty solid possibility that your favorite game designers did, in fact, do it that way. When the video games industry was just getting started, and growing to the mainstream level we see now, this was pretty much the way to do it, because the resources needed to make video games were held tightly by companies with with money.

If you didn’t have money, you either needed to go get some, or go work for a company until you were able to get the position you wanted.

We don’t have that problem anymore. Game design and development are able to be done in affordable ways. It’s often free, to a point. Unity doesn’t require you to pay until you’ve made $100,000 in a year on games. For 3D modeling and animation, Blender is completely free.

Start your Own Studio. Design Your Own Games.

  1. Learn what goes into designing video games
  2. Learn how to design great video games.
  3. Design great video games.
  4. Learn to code in pre-made engines like Unity (3D/2D) or GameMaker (2D). Alternatively, hire or partner with someone who does.
  5. Learn to do basic art required in free software like Blender (3D) or Inkscape (2D). Alternatively, hire or partner with someone who does.
  6. Be a game designer.

You Can Still Go The Triple A Route

You might be thinking, “What if they/I don’t want to be an indie developer? What if they/I want to work on AAA titles like Halo or World of Warcraft?”

No problem. I still don’t recommend working your way up from the bottom.

Design your own games. Ship them. Make a name for yourself. Get the job you want at whatever studio.

There are three ways to get to the top of the AAA gaming industry:

  1. Start from the bottom and work your way up the corporate ladder of a company that was never yours and most likely wouldn’t ever be yours. Even if you stuck with them for 50 years, they’re probably already owned by another company who most likely won’t give it up, ever.
  2. Start as independent, build up your own indie studio, then get a job as a game designer at a big AAA company.
  3. Start as independent, build up your own indie studio, become AAA yourself.

#3 is the option I prefer.

I’m Going To Help You Do This

I’m building out a site and collection of courses on how to

  • Design games well and
  • Start a game design business once they’ve got that down so they can go on to make games with their ideas

No one should have to spend 3 years “getting experience” as a QA tester and then spend 10 or more years slowly working their way up the corporate ladder.

The one thing that will save your gamedev career from certain failure.

This is a long post, so here are some important sections you can skip to:

You gotta eat. You gotta have a roof over your head.

Here’s the thing: you need money.

We live in a post-scarcity world that thrives through a strange, impure, though somewhat functional version of capitalism. At least, those of us in “developed nations” as they

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