Build your writing portfolio
It's useful for writers in film, TV and games to have a portfolio website.
Having a website isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s helpful. It means you can put your web address on your business card or in your email signature so that commissioning editors, producers and admissions tutors can easily get a grasp of your skills and creativity. It also means you can be found through search engines.
What should a writing portfolio website have in it?
- Include a short personal statement that explains what characterises your writing.
- Include a video showreel, if you have any scripts that have been made into a production or a game.
- If you’re showing work on a collaborative project; for example, on one that you co-wrote, be clear about what your contribution is and credit the other parties when necessary.
- Don’t put in work that isn’t yours.
- Try to make your website look good. Even though you’re just working with text, it’s still possible for your site to be visually appealing. It’s worth trying to make the graphic style reflect your writing. If you’re a comedy writer, you don’t want a gloomy-looking site, for example.
What to put in a screenwriting portfolio
- If you have a script that you’re pitching, or will be pitching in future, don’t publish more than a few pages on your website; just enough to whet an appetite and protect your idea
- Highlight success if you have been shortlisted or longlisted in a competition. Entering competitions is a good way to demonstrate you are actively pursuing writing as a career. (The BBC Writers Room opportunities page is a good source of information on competitions that are coming up)
What to put in a games writing portfolio
- Include some examples of branching narratives and show them on your website as a flow chart or using a free html software, such as Twine. Many games employ nonlinear or branching narratives in which the player influences the direction that a dialogue will take
- Demonstrate your adaptability. As a game writer, you’ll be asked to write for any number of purposes: worldbuilding, creating lore, writing dialogue, crafting biographies and more
- Show how you have worked with others and adapted to feedback. Writing for games is a collaborative process
- Use your portfolio to reference other games and explain how your work fits in relation to them. Games developers refer to other games and their approach to common design problems
- Reference your experience with tabletop games that share features of computer games in scenario and character setting. If you’ve ever been a game master for Dungeons and Dragons, you’ve got experience worth sharing in a portfolio
Where to host your portfolio
These are free, popular tools through which you can build and host your website:
Writing portfolio hosting site that offers a free tier account that allows you to host up to and including 10 written pieces. Paid subscription versions of the service are also available; with unlimited hosted pieces and even Google Analytics at a certain price
Writing portfolio hosting site that offers a free account version that hosts up to and including 10 written pieces, and includes a homepage and domain name, “yourname.journoportfolio.com”. Paid subscription accounts are offered at £3.75 or £7.50 per month and both include hosting of unlimited written pieces and pages
Free writing software
Operating system: macOS
Free scriptwriting software that automatically formats your work into a professional script layout. It enables you to export files in Final Draft, Fountain and PDF formats, though it does watermark all PDFs. It offers in-app purchases
Operating system: All
Free “fully functional” demo version of this screenwriting software is available. Its full version can be purchased for $79.95, and it has a list of features on its website
Operating system: Windows and Linux
Free open-source screenwriting software with no paid version and, therefore, no locked features in the free version. You can import Fade In, Celtx, Final Draft and Fountain files and export to PDF, Final Draft and Fountain, as well as HTML and RTF formats
Operating system: Windows and macOS or web-based
Script editing software. A free version of Celtx can be downloaded from third-party sites than the Celtx website. Alternatively, you can sign up to Celtx and choose the “Free (Basic)” plan, which includes a basic online (only) script editor with which you can create and edit scripts with an unlimited page count, generate PDFs and import and export files
Operating system: All
Some games have interactive, non-linear and branching storylines or dialogue options, sometimes known as 'dialogue trees'. Twine is open-source software that allows you to write in this form
Operating system: Windows
Chatmapper is another example of software with which you can write 'dialogue trees'. You can get a free trial version of it online
How should I share my portfolio?
Include a link to your online portfolio in the bio of any social media accounts that you use strictly for professional purposes. Also, include a link to your professional social media accounts from your portfolio page. Social media sites that you may use for professional purposes can include LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few.
Link to your portfolio from your email signature and put the web address on your business card. Make sure that the link works.