Tuesday, 16 August 2016

How to become a GW author!

Late last year GW was looking for freelance writers and having always fancied myself with a bit of prose so I thought I would give it a go. The advert has been taken down now, but its sure to go up again at some point so if thats your kind of thing you can see what I did and get to honing your skills. The process was as follows:

1 - Send in 250 words explaining why you want to do it, if they like this continue to step 2...
2 - Send in two Test Briefs, each 250 words, if they like this sharpen your pencil and grab a notepad...
3 - You're in!

I submitted my test briefs and after about a month got a message saying I had a few areas to improve (which they detailed) and asked me to resubmit. I was pretty tied up with family stuff though at the time so had to ditch my attempt but thought I would share my experience with you. My test briefs are below; I have to say that I thought GW were awesome to provide the feedback like they did. Where else can you submit a piece of writing and get feedback from a real publisher - top guys. After you have read my test briefs you can see the briefing email I got to set me on my path and maybe try and figure out where I went wrong!

Hope you enjoy reading them...

Test Brief 1
The blow knocked Sergeant Sicarius back into the ruins. His Ultramarine icon ground against
plascrete, critical damage alarms chiming as he rolled under the swing of a chainaxe. The Warboss raged above him, axe aloft and bellowing its hate to the clan.
Tasting blood he pushed up off the ground smashing a pauldron into the orks fanged face. Shattered tusks showered down his arms as he thrust upwards with his gladius, searching for a gap, only to be thwarted by the Blood Axe clan ironwork.
Dark red eyes glared down, he side-stepped, dodging left then right as shrieking chain teeth worked to sunder his battle plate. Bringing the gladius around again it found meat this time and sliced off a stinking ear.
The beast snarled and shook its wounded head allowing Sicarius precious seconds to check the brothers around him; helmet icons warned Captain Alexis was surrounded and almost overrun.
Killing the Warboss would rout the clan. Breathing heavily and with crimson surging from rents in his armour Sicarius forced his helm toward the Captain. The ork chief lunged forward. He could save Alexis, but it would take both hands to steady the shot.
Bolts thundered across the space, as the last greenskin fell from his Captain the cold certainty of death filled Sicarius’ body with the kiss of a chainaxe forcing his ceramite armour apart.
Sicarius whispered into the vox;
<Captain; my gladius to young Cato, see it bring him courage and honour, arise brother and avenge me now>

Test Brief 2
Scout Sergeant Aurelion lay motionless amid scrub grasses, gazing at the tiny figures in the valley below.
“What do you see?” Aurelion addressed the five prone scout snipers around him.
“Word Bearers, company strength, moving east” snapped Scout Hector.
“What is our move?” said Aurelion.
“Inform Legion Command, engage from range” said Scout Claudius
Aurelion grunted.
“Inform Command, observe and await orders” countered Hector.
“This may just be the forward element, if we wait and get support we can kill more traitors” said Hector.
Sergeant Aurelion nodded and the others leaned in to share their data with Hector.
Claudius closed his eyes and then lowered them to the scope. He could make out the gaunt face of a huge Captain; kill markings etched across his arms in mock epitaph to the Ultramarines betrayed. Claudius’ finger rapped against the rifles trigger guard.
The veteran looked across to him “As a scout you are outnumbered and exposed, why do we task our most inexperienced warriors to this?”
Claudius hesitated “Field experience, sir.”
“No” said Aurelion “it teaches you to temper your boldness, to learn when to fight and when to yield. Six scouts cannot win this fight, but with our brothers aid we can.” He turned away now, listening to the command channel.
“The ambush is prepared, grid LV426”said Aurelion as he tossed a vengeance round to Claudius “get there and take out that big Captain first, the rest of you will target vox-operators and officers, move out!”

My briefing from GW...

Thank you for your interest in writing for Games Workshop.

Here is your test brief. You will have 7 days from today to complete both parts and submit them by replying to this email. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Word or similar file, or simply writing into an email is fine for us.
7 days from the date of this emailPlease email back to us the finished tests (together) by replying to this email. 

Every potential freelance author must complete two test pieces to gauge their ability, the test has minimum requirements.

The Test Brief Part 1 – Maximum 250 words
Space Marine fighting an Ork – Write a fight scene that depicts a Space Marine engaged in battle with a vicious greenskin. It should feel brutal and violent, but not gratuitous. You may include dialogue, but first and foremost we want to see and experience earth shattering action as they trade blows. The Space Marine must be from a First Founding Chapter mentioned in Codex: Space Marines (2013) and the Ork must be from a Tribe or Clan mentioned in Codex: Orks (2014). The location can be of your choosing, as can the victor, although one must be defeated.

The Test Brief Part 2 Maximum 250 words
Space Marine Sergeant briefing a squad of scouts before they embark on their first mission -–Write a scene where an Ultramarine Sergeant is giving a rally speech to a squad of scouts or discussing tactics/training before they set out on their first mission. The emphasis here must be on dialogue and character. The location and specifics of the mission are up to you.

We will judge your work based on the following principles. Please read these thoroughly before starting.

Games Workshop Fiction Writing Principles
Make it epic 
Warhammer is epic, mythic, poetic – always. Amp up the heroism and tragedy. Remember that you’re telling epic tales about epic battles, with the miniatures always at the heart of it – bring them to life in the coolest possible ways, but remember to ground everything within the reality and internal logic of the universe.
Conflict should always be the focus – this doesn’t always need to be a fight;
it includes character conflicts and internal conflict, as long as they revolve around andfeed into warfare and
battle, which should always be at the core.
Grab attention
The writing should be engaging from the first sentence – lead with something that demands attention and
makes the reader want to continue reading, something awesome and impressive – you can contextualise and extrapolate later.
Plotting and Pacing
Maintain a good pace – something needs to happen in every scene to move the plot forward and/or develop
characters. Set things up and pay them off in the right way at the right time. Focus on complications and consequences, not surprise reveals out of left-field or random twists of fate. Adhere to an internal logic that fits the story.  
Your characters should feel like living and breathing people with their own values,beliefs and drivers. They should be flawed, but awesome. Always consider why they do what do they do, in the way that they do it, and make the reader care about them. Avoid passive characters and ‘Mary Sues’ who can do everything better than everyone else. Ensure that your characters are all rooted within the Warhammer universe and are appropriate to their faction and place in it.
Write about the miniatures...
Everything should be seen through the eyes of the characters, all of whom should be easily identifiable as models. Be careful to stay within their frame of reference – if your viewpoint character doesn’t know something, they can’t say or think it! Neverlapse into ‘word of god’ prose. 
...and the world they
Use the characters as the fulcrum for building a believable world. Give the information that’s relevant and always strive for verisimilitude. The iconography and heraldry of the miniatures is vital as well, and should be celebrated in text as much as in artwork and photographs. Describe what the characters see and feel of the forces they fight with and against, in all their majesty and/or horror.
Be Original
Don’t write clich├ęs, tropes and hyperbole – be original within the framework of the Warhammer universe. The
writing shouldn’t be derivative of what has come before, but should always be quintessentially Warhammer – if it could happen in the 
same way in another fictional universe, it’s probably not a Warhammer story. Don’t make up new things in the universe – play with the toys that
Leave the Door Open
Hint at a wider universe. Don’t be afraid to leave dangling threads and open doors to explore later – as
long as it’s within the context of a tightly plotted story that wraps up all the essential elements of the tale.
Make it Fantastical
The writing and the stories should never be prosaic, pedestrian or boring. Avoid history lessons or
‘infodumps’ of exposition and background information – make itexciting, vivid and evocative and get the essential information across through the lens of the characters.
And always, always show, don’t tell.
Make it Readable
We require a high standard of written English, including accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar. Whilst these things alone do not constitute good writing, the absence of them would unfortunately make it impossible for us to consider adding you to our freelance author pool, no matter how fantastic your story is. Please email both finished parts to us via this email address in one email. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

look forward to seeing your work.


Games Workshop Author Team


  1. That is pretty cool that they gave feedback and such and pointers. Very interesting.

  2. Yeah, I think it's amazing they let people have the opportunity and then to actually give some form of feedback to the hundreds, thousands (?) who apply is very cool.