“I hate writing, I love having written.”
– Dorothy Parker
Ms. Parker nailed it; writing is hard. All writing is an act of creation, of bringing something new and hopefully beautiful into the world. It demands effort and sacrifice, and an eye for the visual poetry of language. It requires an ear for the musicality of the words, and so, so much patience.
Finding the perfect words can feel like a Sisyphean task. Contending with dead-ends and multiple revisions is agonizing, but when the words work, when I know that I’ve nailed it, there’s no better feeling.
So yeah, writing is hard, but I love it. Despite the challenges, it’s a joyful act. Below is some of my favorite creative work; I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
In an industry with low margins and fierce competition, hobby-game publishers must do everything possible to capture consumer interest. Box art and illustrations are important, as they’re the first things that a potential buyer sees, but the copy on the back of the box is even more important.
Box copy is what sets a game apart; it tells a story, reveals themes, and gives a game its personality. My clients, particularly those overseas, rely on my writing to provide those elements; I have often adapted my copy for use on publishers’ sales sheets, websites, and promotional materials.
When writing for print, I’ve got to trust in readers’ imaginations to fill in small details. The reader, in doing so, actively invests my work with their own biases and experiences.
As passive formats, audio and video fill those details in more concretely. By writing with sight and sound in mind, I’m able to guide users through my own vision and imagination.
My attention to detail, along with my regard for clarity and continuity, are solid assets in ensuring that my vision survives any editorial or directorial decisions that follow.
For samples of my work, click the arrows below:
I had a lot of fun writing this spec script, which blended ancient traditions with the “new normal” realities of the post-COVID world. This is an edited-down version; please forgive the non-standard screenplay format: PDF link
For samples of my work, click the arrows below:
Phase Shift Games hired me to build the fictional setting for their series of interconnected games. I created “The Known Lands” from the ground up, establishing this new world’s cultures, religions, histories, mythologies, and even geography; my art direction served as the basis for Phase Shift’s style guides, which ensure consistency and continuity across multiple products and styles of art, as seen here.
In addition to these frameworks I wrote stories for promotional videos (seriously, check out that link), and as a developer my work has included solving issues of game balance and developing some of the games’ interactive fiction. While my fiction writing connects these games in a shared narrative, my technical writing ensures that each game’s manual is clear and accessible. For my contributions, I was identified as “an essential and invested member of the team.”
The first edition of Chivalry & Sorcery was printed in 1977, as a response to the lack of realism in Dungeons & Dragons. C&S’ real-world focus quickly set it apart from the other games on the market, and earned it a loyal following in the decades to follow.
In 2019, Britannia Game Designs announced an upcoming fifth edition of C&S; that announcement came with a promise to increase religious and cultural representation, in part by expanding the game’s “core faiths” to Islam and Judaism.
I was hired to write the chapter on medieval Judaism, and came through with an exhaustively researched, 10,000-word, non-fiction overview of Jewish communities in Europe during the period of 1000-1500AD. This included information on Jewish religious and cultural customs, daily life, and relations with non-Jews. In September of 2020, I contracted with the publisher to produce a 25,000-word supplemental book on the Mongol Empire.
I wrote this back when I was teaching high-school English. I’d been challenged to go toe-to-toe with another teacher in a rap battle; my winning submission is below:
Yo, yo, Mister Bo!
I’ve had it up to here with these constant rap battles.
You’ve got the kids in here, prattlin’ like they’re cattle.
I don’t mean to tattle, but Bo, you’re foggier than Seattle.
And if we’re talkin’ ’bout cattle, you know that’s a bovine.
But I don’t mean your wife, cuz’ man she’s lookin’ fine.
Now, I’ve written fifty lines and I’m done with chapter nine,
The plot lines intertwine, what’s the next thing you’ll assign?
Check my flow, Bo, I’m a teacher in the know.
I know what the facts is, and you can’t stop these waxes,
I’ll school you on the Praxis.
The IRS is sendin’ faxes ’bout your last years’ taxes.
Now, you’re starin’ at the class with your coke-bottle lenses,
But we know our verb tenses, our whats, whys, and whences.
Hence, we’re not so dense from the knowledge you dispense.
But listen up, Bo, and hear my two cents.
I’m on the offense, and on your salary you’ll never drive a Benz.
Now, I’ve got to rhyme with salary, my rhyming burns up calories.
Teach us Thomas Mallory, or O’Connor, Flannery.
You’re shorter than a story, your words need weight like Giles Corey.
Ask my man Coleridge, whose mariner was hoary –
His rime colder than my rhymes, I’m out to win glory.
Teach us something gory, like a tale from Polidori.
Now, though, Mister Bo, I’ll tell you what I know ’bout Edgar Allen Poe,
And the poet Homer, d’oh! Let my rhymes flow, rap ’bout Odysseus and his bow.
You want a quid pro quo, but man your rhymes are slow.
So, you’re crazier than van Gogh. Don’t talk, be like Marcel Marceau; my cup doth overflow.
Bo, let me be clear: the end is drawing near, and this is why I’m here.
I’ll teach the kids about Billy Shakespeare and Chaucer’s cavalier.
I’m done for the day – I finished Miller’s play and made impressions like Monet.
So tell me, Mister B, do I get my A?
I’ve always had a particular fondness for this brief sketch: