Posted on June 26, 2019 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
We’re accustomed to seeing indie authors whose day jobs still link back to literature, whether that’s as a teacher, editor, marketer, or even screenwriter.
But Gerhard Gehrke’s nine-to-five gig was a first for us: creating story content for a video game company.
So basically, he’s the envy of multiple sections of fandom — bookworms and gamers — talk about an incredible accomplishment!
Gehrke told us a little bit more about his great fortune in becoming the ultimate professional storyteller.
SADYE: What exactly does it mean to create story content for a video game company?
GERHARD: The story content I’ve been working on first involves my putting together an outline which fits the project.
The current game company has specific genre guidelines and wants to see what the major beats, dialogue, and action options will look like to the player.
This is very much like writing a detailed story outline akin to a rough draft, which will be open to critique. This has required me to be more organized and polished with my ideas.
Once this is accepted, I then can flesh out the actual story and get to the writing portion using the game assets and mechanics as a foundation.
SADYE: Which came first — the video games or the fiction — and did one inspire you to do the other?
GERHARD: The game comes first. The head designer at the current company is very passionate about the project and has specific requirements.
This means writing something which fits the game, but it’s quite similar to setting out to write a short story for submission to a genre magazine.
Once you know what they want, you work within those parameters. I love writing, so I don’t view this as a limitation but rather an enjoyable challenge.
I was writing novels before this opportunity became available, and that has been to my advantage in that I have good writing habits.
SADYE: In what ways does one storytelling role affect the other?
GERHARD: Writing novels and writing for the game company are different enough that when I’ve met my word goals on my own work in progress, changing gears to do some other writing is quite refreshing.
But basic story structure, dialogue, and pace are all tools which both require. Both have markets with defined expectations. Both have deadlines, now that I do presales on my novels.
All forms of writing provide good experience and allow us to improve in our skills.
SADYE: What have been the most rewarding, surprising, and challenging parts of your writing career?
GERHARD: Most rewarding? Feedback.
I received a handwritten note from a high school student who enjoyed Nineveh’s Child and have corresponded with a grandmother who was reading my Supervillain High book to her grandchildren.
This is also surprising in discovering the variety of people who’ve enjoyed what I’ve written.
Most challenging? The business side of writing fiction. There’s very little organic discovery in the 2019 fiction market.
I’m learning ads. There’s many tools available. Each ad space has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s so easy to spend money with few returns.
But it’s a necessary skill for an author, so I’m trying to enjoy the learning process as much as possible!
SADYE: What theme or message, if anything, would you like readers to take away from your work?
GERHARD: The themes I’ve enjoyed developing the most are rising to a challenge that’s bigger than we are despite limitations, learning to trust others, treasuring our friends, and discovering that we are stronger than we might think, if we allow ourselves to be.
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Categories: Author Interview