What If You're Not The Writer?
Part 1: Calling All Project Managers
Sometimes a customer approaches me who isn’t a writer, artist, game developer, or any other type of creative but has an idea for a story, comic, or game which they want to make into a reality. This customer’s plan is to hire the writers, artists, and anyone else they need (including a worldbuilder), and to have those people bring their project to life!
Does that sound like you? If so, read on, because there’s a few things you should know.
I’ve worked with three non-creatives with project ideas before, who I’ll call “project managers” from here onwards. Despite my best efforts, on all three occasions the projects ended up failing. This series is about what went wrong with those projects so you can be forewarned and avoid running into the same problems yourself.
I’m going to use the projects I worked on with my past three project manager-type customers as case studies, to help illustrate what happened to their projects. This is to show you what can go wrong, and to discuss what we can do together to prevent the same problems happening in your project.
Case Study 1: The Dystopia Project
Let’s call the owner of this project Jeremy. Jeremy’s project was for a series of 5 graphic novels about a dystopian world, with most of the story focusing on a young male character who escapes the dystopia and discovers a hidden paradise, finding a girlfriend along the way, who he shares his happy-ever-after with.
For context that will be helpful later, regular sex parties happened in the hidden paradise, which was part of Jeremy’s vision of what would make the place a paradise.
Case Study 2: The Project Where Everyone Was Invited
I’m going to call the owner of this project Adam. Adam’s project was a large-scale roleplay world set on a planet populated by cutesy, brightly-coloured, shape-shifting aliens. His vision for his project was that anybody and everybody should feel as if they could get involved, so he intended his world to be perfectly inclusive. This included offering large portions of his as-yet undeveloped world to interested audience members so they could develop entire kingdoms however they wanted.
Case Study 3: The Fetish Project
I’m going to call this customer Larry. Larry wanted to pay for me to help him firm up his description of his alien species, and then to have a writer read my species development notes and write a story based on it. Larry’s story idea was designed to showcase his favourite kink, but he did not make the extent of this clear to me when we began to work together and only vaguely mentioned that the story would "include adult themes".
So let’s look at the most common problems that stopped these projects reaching their full potential. You can click on Lack of Leadership to go through all of the following issues in sequence, or only read the ones you think are likely to become issues for you personally.
- Lack of Leadership
- Keeping The Team Apart
- Blurring Professional Lines
- Including NSFW Material
- First-Project Over-Optimism
- Wish Fulfilment vs. Project Success
Title image by Fell and used with their kind permission.