Buckell had a similar experience with the Halo universe. "As far as freedom to tell the story, I had a great deal of it and the working relationship was great. But we did spend a lot of time hammering down details to make sure they were right. And I never had a problem with that. Unlike when I write my own books, this isn't just a place I'm making up on the fly, it's an entire universe created by a massive team of people who'd been working on it for years. It was only logical that we all spent a lot of time making sure the book fit in the greater universe of all things Halo!"


Different publishers and developers work in different ways. "The approvals process for a tie-in novel can vary a lot," Forbeck explains. "I typically work closely with the developers to make sure I get everything right the first time. Massive rewrites are a pain for everyone and a huge waste of time." That doesn't mean the writer is necessarily constrained by mandates. As Forbeck explained, "My editors often give me a great deal of leeway over what I write. I regularly deviate from approved outlines, but I do that only when I'm confident that the new ideas I've come up with in the course of writing the book are better than the ones I had when I was planning the book. In every case, my editors have backed me up on that."

"The approval process for writing Warhammer novels is an extensive one," reports Lee, "especially if you're asked to write about a specific event in the setting's background. Each book requires a comprehensive chapter outline that covers all of the characters and major events in the story, which is sent to my editor and to [Games Workshop]'s game developers to review. The developers review the outline for any problems, and then send them back to me for revision. Work on the novel cannot begin until everyone signs off on the outline."

"That said," Lee continues, "so long as I work within the bounds of the game's [intellectual property], I'm given complete latitude in telling the story itself."

Writing for an established game world isn't as simple as pitching any awesome idea and hoping it works, though. As Forbeck puts it, "I'd rather be true to the vision in the game than try to impose my own on it." That doesn't mean he avoids giving his own take on the game. "I put as much of myself into the stories as I can. But I always remember that people have put down their money to read a story set in the world of their favorite game, and I aim to give it to them."

Comments on