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See title. I love writing stories, but I usually imagine how they are like in show/movie form, specifically 3d animated ones. I don't feel like I have the skill to write a good book, but I do think I could write well for a visual medium, however, I absolutely have no artistic talent whatsoever to properly convey the images in my head to artists.

Is there still a place for someone like me, provided my writing is good enough? I'd love to dabble in that field, but I fear my lack of artistic talent might hold me back. I do have some experience using 3d modeling software, so I guess I could grab some models and pose them in a shot in a way to "sketch" the scenes in my head, but... yeah, that's about it. Is it unusual for someone like that to work in the field of animation? Maybe there are some examples of famous directors/writers who can't draw?

  • Learn and do everything by yourself or start a group project. – user33870 Nov 9 '18 at 8:33
  • I have a lot of information about writing for comics when you're not an artist but doing motion media is a different issue. Breaking into the field is very different from pulling together a comic. I suggest finding some artists with similar styles to you who can't write their way out of a paper bag (or who don't want to write). Good luck! – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 9 '18 at 19:58
  • @Cyn Thanks. I actually thought of writing for comics as well. Maybe making a web comic of some kind would be better to start off with. – noClue Nov 10 '18 at 11:08
  • This might be helpful: writing.stackexchange.com/questions/39231/… – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 10 '18 at 17:33
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Unity3D is free. Adobe Fuse is free. Below is a framegrab from an animation I made using both. Quality 3D software is just a download away. The only limit is time, and the ongoing effort to keep pushing yourself. It is certainly possible to learn, and in time finish your own projects.

enter image description here

Unity is now marketing their program as a "studio-quality animation tool" with a recent tie-in with a Disney production studio. While it's not all lollipops and rainbows, it's a good time to start as game engines adapt to a new market of fast video production. The tools are getting better, as the game engines are filling in a new niche.

If you want to stay in linear video, YouTube's currently-favored format is weekly, short videos – 6-7 minutes each. With 1000 subscribers they let you monetize. I follow a few animated vlogs like Overly Sarcastic Productions (check it out, they cover writing and history and mythology).

Of course if you have a great deal of money you can hire artists to animate your scripts. You can self-fund a short film and shop it to film festivals. I honestly don't see how you would get hired to direct without a showreel that proves you can handle production – the artwork is secondary if you are not the artist. An animation school will help you create a production reel, and teach skills for a fee – however with the pace of evolution in software, a film school will be years behind the leading edge.

This year I'm learning to add open source storyengines like Twine, ChoiceScript, and Ink (all have Unity plugins that are free). Since a fully animated story is labor intensive, I'm pushing to complete an interactive visual novel. It's more or less the same 3D skills, and it's all my art and story. I need a bit more programming and to learn app-publishing before I am done. I could publish for free now online. but yes, this is doable. You can animate your own stories, with options for presentation and interactivity

I won't pretend you can produce great animation for free, not without putting in some investment in 3rd-party software and art assets. You also have an idea how long it takes to get proficient with 3D software - 2 years is a common timeframe mentioned on the Unity forums, my 3rd year was when I started to be happy with my art quality.

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    A strikingly good answer. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Nov 9 '18 at 10:07
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    This may indeed be helpful and useful to the OP but it doesn't directly address the question that was actually asked, nor is it about writing at all. It should probably be a comment instead. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Nov 9 '18 at 14:21
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    To clarify, this would be a good answer on a different site. But it doesn't answer the question of whether someone with writing skills and talents, but not visual artistic ones can be a success in a primarily visual medium. // It's also a bit misleading, in as much as it implies that using a computer turns a non-artist into an artist. No matter what the tool is, you're still using your visual artistry to create the final images. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Nov 9 '18 at 17:48
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I'd point you to wetcircuit answer since it covers the topic well. Yet, I wanted to add my two cents (and they didn't fit in a comment).

Actually I feel we might be similar: I imagine my stories in a movie/animated form, usually with soundtracks too. I dabbled in 3d modeling and posing software too. Ultimately, I've chosen to hone my writing skills. I'm painfully aware of the struggle of us story-tellers: if only we could easily produce the visuals, we could convey our plot immediately, right?

Visual medias, after all, can be more immediate, striking and appealing than the written word.

What I wanted to say is:

Commitment goes long ways.

You said you can't draw and that your stories aren't good enough. Also you said you'd like to dabble in animation, but your lack of talent is holding you back.

The point is, even if you decide that 3d modelling and animation is the path for you, that won't solve all your problems. Will animation be easier for you than writing? Could be. Will it be easier than learning to draw? Could be. But if you'll start, you'll be a novice regardless.

It's not that you don't have an artistic talent - it's that you won't ever develop an artistic talent if you don't allow yourself to fail.

I am honestly skeptical about talent. Some people are more apt at something that others, but that may be due to a combination of so many factors that's talking about "talent" is, well, trivial. Yea, Mozart surely had musical talent, but the world is full with good musicians that didn't learn the piano at 4 years old, and still they produce wonderful music. So if we let child prodigies aside, and recognize that they may be a one-in-a-billion case, we're left with the simple fact:

All those recognized, successful artists honed they skills.

You won't find one who didn't. And probably there isn't one who failed at least once, were a "failure" may mean "exercising the craft in a non perfect form" (hell, some products on the market are nowhere near perfect, yet they are still good art).

So, don't go into the animation field because you feel a lack of talent. Go in there because there is potential, and if you're willing to learn. But keep in mind that it won't be effortless, exactly as writing and drawing are not.

You won't be straight-away satisfied with your skills: the more your artistic sense develops, the more you'll see the errors in your previous works. But you'll never know if you'll let your insecurities stop you from trying.

TL,DR: If you have the urge to storytell, you are qualified to storytell. Try to understand which field is for you, then commit your efforts to learning the required skills. Don't stop working. Don't stop improving. Talent can be built with time and effort.

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Yes, it's quite possible to be successful in a hybrid medium like animation or graphic novels solely as a writer. There are many people with abundant artistic talent who don't write well at all, and who need someone like you. (Just like some people write music and some write lyrics, and some write both.) Neil Gaiman is a prime example of someone who became a superstar in the comic books world on the solely on strength of his writing --and the way great artists found it inspiring.

There are really three basic ways to go from here: One, you can try to find an artist or animator on your own, and form a partnership. Online searches might be one way, but good old fashioned footwork works as well. There are often local communities of artists clustered around places such as comic book stores, art schools, and so forth. Another way is to write scripts on spec and submit them to publishers or animation studios. There's no reason you can't do both. Finally, there are people, like Randall Munroe, who are successful in a visual format on the strength of their writing, despite having no particular artistic talent (as wetcircut and Liquid suggested, you can use tools to help as well). But I don't necessarily see that as the strongest option, particularly if you want your images to be realized in their best possible form.

As far as the specifics of writing for animation or comic books: Animated films are written like any other movie, and there are set guidelines and standards for how scripts/screenplays are written. Those are readily available online, and there are many excellent books on them. Similarly, graphic novel scripts have their own standards and conventions. Conveying strong visuals in writing isn't easy, of course, but that's the core skill of a good writer in a hybrid medium --there's no way around that. It will just take a combination of imagination and hard work. Don't feel you need to do the work of the artists for them, however. Your job is to inspire them, not to create a detail-by-detail blueprint.

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  • I'd appreciate a comment from the downvoter, since this is on-topic for this site and answers the question. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Nov 9 '18 at 17:19
  • I upvoted you (and the other answers so far) because I felt it addressed the question and gave useful information. You never know why someone downvotes. I got my first downvote the other day and it was for an answer other people liked. You must have just hit a nerve with someone. – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 9 '18 at 19:56
  • @Cyn True, but I try not to downvote without giving my reasons. If you know why someone downvoted you, it gives you a chance to improve your answer. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Nov 9 '18 at 21:14
  • Nodding. Though I've downvoted a handful of times and didn't give reasons. If I don't like an answer, I usually just ignore it. I only downvote for answers (or questions) I find offensive or obnoxious in some way. But other people are more liberal with their downvotes. – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 9 '18 at 22:11

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