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Writer Emergency Pack is a deck full of useful ideas to help get your story back on track. Thanks to our 5,700 backers!
Writer Emergency Pack is a deck full of useful ideas to help get your story back on track.
Writer Emergency Pack is a deck full of useful ideas to help get your story back on track.
5,714 backers pledged $158,109 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Writer Emergency Pack - helping writers get unstuck

$158,109

5,714

The campaign may be over, but the spirit lives on. Join us at writeremergency.com to learn more about what's happening with Writer Emergency Pack.

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Writing is hard. You're constantly trying to figure out what word comes next. 

Creative writing is even harder. When you're working on a story, you're not just trying to decide what word comes next, but what idea comes next.

It's easy to get stuck.

I know what that's like because I'm a screenwriter. I'm lucky to have had ten movies produced, from GO to BIG FISH to FRANKENWEENIE. I also host a popular podcast about film and television called Scriptnotes.

Over the years, I've had conversations with hundreds of writers, both on the podcast and around the lunch table. No matter what genre or medium, all writers face story problems. Plots that plod. Characters that don't connect.

Every writer has her own techniques for pushing past these problems -- little nudges and prompts to help get the story clicking. 

Writer Emergency Pack is a curated collection of some of the most useful suggestions I've encountered. It's by writers, for writers.

The Cards

Writer Emergency Pack contains 26 illustrated cards, each featuring a different idea for getting unstuck.

The notion of using cards to help you write isn't new. Writers have long used tarot cards, looking for meaning in the illustrations, or decks like Oblique Strategies, with its koan-like prompts ("Repetition is a form of change").

The ideas in Writer Emergency Pack are designed to be less abstract, and more immediately useful. They're specifically tailored to people writing fiction, from novels to scripts, poems to plays. 

The cards focus on story, character, and conflict.

For each illustrated Idea card, there's a matching Detail card with more specific suggestions. And on the back, you'll find tips to try.

Detail cards (front)
Detail cards (front)
Detail cards (back)
Detail cards (back)

Give One, Get One

Our goal is to get these packs into the hands of as many writers as possible — both the backers of the project and young writers just learning their craft. That's why we are committing to donate one deck for each backer deck we send out.

We're based in Los Angeles, so our initial outreach will be with programs we can visit to see what works. Ultimately, we want to send these packs all over the world. We've identified several youth writing programs we'd like to work with -- but we want your suggestions as well.

If you know of a creative writing program you'd like to recommend, tell us about it in the Comments section. Links and instructor names are especially helpful. Most important is your personal experience about why this particular program is so good.

As we learn more about how the Writer Emergency Packs are working for students, we'll be updating the Education page on writeremergency.com with tips and suggestions for using these decks with classes and after school programs.

Why Kickstarter

I mostly make digital things, like apps and podcasts and websites. In the digital world, it essentially costs the same to make ten or 10,000 copies of something. It's just bits. 

With physical goods, each unit has a real cost. When we printed demo versions of Writer Emergency Pack, each deck cost a lot. Some of that was for the paper and ink and cutting, but a lot of it was setup fees.

Those setup fees are largely fixed. If we printed 100 rather than 10, each deck would cost less. If we could print 500, they'd suddenly be affordable. 

You'll find lots of excellent playing card projects on Kickstarter, and this chart explains why -- making cards scales really well. As long as you can print enough at once, it's viable.

About the design

Ryan Nelson designed Writer Emergency Pack, drawing inspiration from publications of the 1950s -- handbooks, manuals and field guides with strong, bold typography. (In our case, Univers.)

We asked David Friesen to illustrate the cards. Each one is clever and packed with details. You'll be looking at these cards a lot, so we wanted them to be fun.

We also have some Kickstarter exclusives, including:

You can read about these two special perks in our update.

How This All Works

For many of you, this may be the first Kickstarter project you've backed. So here's a quick explanation of the process.

Kickstarter isn't a store, but you can think of it as a way to pre-order something that doesn't yet exist. 

When you pledge money, you pick which reward you want. For example, when you pledge $19, you get one Writer Emergency Pack.

If you pledge higher amounts, you can choose to get additional packs and other bonus stuff.

Once you've chosen, Kickstarter will send you to Amazon Payments, where they'll record your pledge. They don't bill you yet. They only charge you money at the end of the campaign, and only if we reach our funding goal ($9,000).

You can modify or cancel your pledge at any time until very close to the end of the campaign.

On the podcast, I've described Kickstarter as a way of bending the universe slightly. It's a way to make something happen that otherwise wouldn't. 

By backing Writer Emergency Pack, you're causing these cards to exist. Thank you.

Keep coming back for updates. You can also follow the project on Twitter @writeremergency and reach me @johnaugust

Risks and challenges

PRODUCTION

All of the artwork and text is finished. We printed two runs of demo decks, which turned out great. We tested them with professional writers, students and teachers. The feedback has been terrific.

Despite our best planning, problems may arise: printing delays, earthquakes, gamma ray bursts that knock civilization back to the Stone Age. But short of global catastrophe, we should be okay. We've built in contingencies for budget and schedule that should get us through.

There's a chance we won't reach our funding goal. That would be a bummer. We would reevaluate and figure out how to do this better.

There's the chance the response could be so large that we are overwhelmed with orders. If that happens, we'll figure out how to add staff or work with a fulfillment service to get these shipments out. (There's actually a card in WEP named "Stack of Needles" which is about exactly this curse of success.)

Bottom line: If stuff comes up, we'll fix it, and we will tell you. You're backing this project because you want to bend the universe in a slightly better way. You deserve to know the highlights and hiccups along the journey.

SHIPPING

Our company (Quote-Unquote Films) has shipped thousands of shirts and USB drives for the Scriptnotes podcast. We're good at it.

We've studied lots of other card-based Kickstarter projects to gather tips on fulfillment. Here are some things we've learned:

-> We need good addresses.

When funding concludes, we will be sending out a survey to get your mailing address. We plan to ship these in March, but it could be as early as mid-December. So PICK AN ADDRESS THAT WON'T CHANGE. If you're in college or moving a lot, that might mean sending it to your parents or a work address.

-> International shipping is expensive.

For deck-based projects, current consensus seems to be that USPS is the best value, even overseas. But we wish it were cheaper. One suggestion: Buy in bulk. If you know several people who want decks, pool your money and buy at a higher tier (i.e. Elite Dolphin Squad or Ocean Rescue Task Force). That way, you'll only pay shipping once.

-> Mistakes will happen.

Packages will get lost or stolen or held in customs. One good thing about these decks is that we're making a lot of them. No matter what happens, we'll be able to sort it out if you just contact us.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • It's $12 to ship anywhere outside of the US.

    When you click "Back This Project" and pick your reward, you'll be asked whether it will ship in the US to to another country. In the pop-up list, choose your country. (They're all $12.)

    You won't need to fill out any address information until after the campaign is over in late November.

    Last updated:
  • You won't need to fill out any address information until after the Kickstarter campaign is over. In late November, you'll get a survey asking where we should ship your pack(s).

    Last updated:
  • All Writer Emergency Packs have the exact same cards in them. All packs are identical.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Emergency Contact

    As a friend of the project, we'll keep you updated on our progress and thank you on the writeremergency.com backers page.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    44 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $12 or more About $12

    Little Mermaid (Give 2)

    TWO packs donated to a youth writing program partner. As a friend of the project, we'll keep you updated on our progress and thank you on the writeremergency.com backers page.

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    Estimated delivery
    14 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    First Responder (1+1 Earlybird)

    ONE Writer Emergency Pack (US shipping included) + ONE pack donated to a youth writing program partner

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 50 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $19 or more About $19

    Lifeguard (1+1)

    ONE Writer Emergency Pack (US shipping included) + ONE pack donated to a youth writing program partner

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    4,266 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  5. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $29 or more About $29

    Rescue Pilot (2+2 Earlybird)

    TWO Writer Emergency Packs (US shipping included) + TWO packs donated to a youth writing program partner

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 50 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $34 or more About $34

    Coast Guard (2+2)

    TWO Writer Emergency Packs (US shipping included) + TWO packs donated to a youth writing program partner

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1,065 backers
    $
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $79 or more About $79

    Elite Dolphin Unit (6+6)

    SIX Writer Emergency Packs [half brick] (US shipping included) + SIX packs donated to a youth writing program partner

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    159 backers
    $
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $129 or more About $129

    Ocean Rescue Task Force (12+12)

    TWELVE Writer Emergency Packs [full brick] (US shipping included) + TWELVE packs donated to a youth writing program partner

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    45 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $499 or more About $499

    Robinson Crusoe

    ONE Signed demo deck +
    ONE (finished) Writer Emergency Pack (US shipping included for both) +
    ONE pack donated to a youth writing program partner +
    ONE story consultation session with John August (one hour, in person or via Skype/FaceTime/phone)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
    $
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Funding period

- (16 days)