Author! Author! – The Writing Board Game

My husband is doing a design course at Open University, and his latest assessment was to design a board game. The poor thing has had to deal with me through my road to publication, reading my book a million times (a rough estimate), listening to my whinging, my wonderings, my hopes and fears. He said eventually I got a certain look on my face where he knew I was about to ask something about my book. Guy knows me too well.

So he decided to make a board game about the perils of getting published. In order to win, you have to collect various Person cards: an agent, a publisher, an editor, and 6 fans.

The players draw chance cards, which give or take away moves, which are symbolized by some old IBM keys.ย There are also Cloak & Dagger cards, which are the ones with the evil magician, which give you various ways to screw over your opponent.

The board set-up

While this is still a prototype, it was still a fun game, mainly because of the tongue-in-cheek cards you drew. Craig and I collaborated on these. Some of my favourites:

– William Gibson retweets your robot kitten pictures. Get 1 move.

– The router breaks so you can’t procrastinate on the internet. Get 2 moves.

– Your manuscript stops a bullet headed for your beta reader’s heart. Get 4 moves.

– The person you punched out in the pub last night turns out to be a respected critic. Don’t pick up the next Person card you land on.

– The convention you attend is held in a post-apocalyptic Pontins. Lose 4 moves.

– Publishers are only looking for Were-Unicorn Urban Fantasy Romances nowadays. Lose 5 moves.

– Thespacekeyonyourkeyboardstopsworking.Lose3moves.

– Your beta readers are mysteriously silent about your latest draft of your postmodern Postman Pat trilogy. Lose 2 moves.

– You read a book that has the same subject as yours. It is better. Lose 3 moves.

– You get a kitten. Go to Writer’s Block. (Writer’s Block is like Jail in Monopoly)

Mixed in with the chance cards are challenge cards:

– You create a claymation trailer for your manucript. It generates some buzz online. You can leave it at that and get 2 moves, or you can roll the dice and send it to an agent:

1-2: The agent has claymationphobia. Lose 6 moves.

3-4: The agent thinks it’s ok, but you didn’t follow the query guidelines. Get 1 move.

5-6: The agent loves it and requests the full manuscript. Get 6 moves.


– You create some words in a new language for your sci-fi novel. You can just incorporate what you have and get 2 moves, or you can roll the dice and develop it.

1: It’s well dobby. Bearded people at conventions worldwide adopt it as their lingua franca. Get 7 moves.

2-3: It’s choodessny. Some academics take an interest. Get 3 moves.

4-5: It’s chepooka. Nonsense dweebery. Lose 3 moves.

6: It’s baddiwad. Who’ll publish something no-one understands, huh, Joyce? Lose 7 moves.


– Godfrey “Mindvoyager” Ho offers you psychotropic substances to help your imagination. You can opt for coffee instead for 1 move, or take is offer and roll the dice:

1-3: You hallucinate that you are Stephanie Meyer and Ayn Rand’s lovechild and write 100,000 words. Lose 6 moves and don’t pick up the next Person card.ย 

4-6: The Doors of Perception are open to you. 100,000 words flow from your glowing fingertips in rainbow ribbons onto a page that ripples like water and tastes of rapture. Gain 6 moves and move to the closest Person card.

We played and it was a close game–I was ahead for most of the game, but Craig made a dramatic comeback and ended up beating me at the very end! I only needed one more fan (where was my mom when I needed her, eh?)

Keiko also enjoyed playing

I’m tempted to bring it with me to Eastercon in two weeks because it’d be quite fun to play with actual authors, publishers, editors, agents, and fans. ๐Ÿ™‚

Would you play?


13 thoughts on “Author! Author! – The Writing Board Game

  1. I love the design on the cloak and dagger cards and I like the concept of the chance cards where you have to roll a die. You don’t see that very often. I’ll definitely play it with you guys this summer!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s