I had a heavy load of RPG development for a few different companies recently (development is taking an author's turnover and ensuring it's consistent in tone, high-quality, and appropriately styled to go to editing and layout), so I've been seeing a lot of great work from a lot of great authors. Here are a few takeaways from that:

* Authors plainly have strengths. Some are super tight in rules knowledge but don't have great prose; others have super evocative prose and naming, but don't think through all the mechanical aspects of their rules knowledge. I can see why people who are all-around great are so valued, and why an author that's a "B" at everything is so much more valuable than one who's an "A" at just one thing but a "D" at other elements. (I suppose the goal there is to get the writing material that fits under their A game.)

* Word count isn't a problem. One of the thing early freelancers hear is to stick religiously to word count. Don't provide 1,200 words if your word count is 500; similarly, don't provide 1,000 words on subject A and 200 words on subject B if your assignment was 1,200 words split equally between A and B. Perhaps I've just been lucky, but nearly everyone works to close to their word count. Some freelancers say being within 10% is fine. Some have been told 5%. I personally shoot for 2% or 3%. As a developer, I've been told to get within 1%, but I most often try to get within a couple of words of the assigned length--effectively 0%.

* Some freelancers use comment bubbles liberally (such as to say "This feat works like this other feat." or "Here is my pricing breakdown for this magic item"). As a developer, I really like that! It works like a "commentary track" to get into the writer's way of thinking. A rules item I might read and think "oh, yuk, way too powerful and kludgy," I might think differently about if the author included a comment like "The XYZ archetype from Ultimate Horror has a very similar rule, and it works with the ABC system presented in Advance Race Guide."

This all translates into good advice I'm taking as a writer. Related to each of the above:

* Although I consider myself one of those "B at most things" authors that are useful for developers, I'm still going to focus on the writing areas where I'm weak--such as fully vetting new rules at low-, mid-, and high-level play (often I don't fully consider all of these when, say, designing a cheap magic item).

* I'm going to shoot for 1% word count from now on.

* I felt like I already included a lot of comment bubbles, but I see now that I'm middle-of-the-road bubbler. I'll do more of that to get my thinking across to my developers.

For now, I'm deeply back to writing--including the next Paizo adventure path, which I'm very excited about--so it will likely be a few months before I pick up the development pen again.