Writer | Speaker | Teacher
If you've got a story to tell, I can help you tell it.
Hi, I'm Susan
For over 15 years, I’ve been writing scripts for award-winning, multimillion-dollar franchises.
Now I'm taking what I've learned about storytelling and psychology and human behavior,and sharing it with people like you.
Who do I work with?
People like these:
Creative Directors | Showrunners
Studios | Muppets | Entrepreneurs
Brand Storytellers | Dorks | Speechwriters
Content Strategists | Political Activists
Game Developers | Journalists | You
$ 500 million
I've worked on over 25 projects, including -
Nominee, Outstanding Achievement in Story, AIAS
Nominee, Best Narrative, GDC
Over 8 million copies sold worldwide
Far Cry 2
Nominee, Best Writing, GDC
Nominee, Game of the Year, AIAS
Winner, Game of the Year, AIAS
Winner, Best Writing, GDC
Over 4 million units sold
Launched a franchise
I've worked with artists, writers, and designers to bring faraway lands, underwater cities,and wretched hives of scum and villainy to life.
I've transformed people like you into detectives, explorers, tomb raiders - even superheroes.
It's my job to make the impossible feel real.
As a speaker, I offer presentations, seminars, and workshops worldwide.
I help creatives find their voices and tell their stories.
Past venues include TEDx, New York University, The Kennedy Center, and SxSW.
See TEDx talk here
"Your masterclass was on another level! Your experiences and your passion for storytellingmade your talk outshine all the others."- Dominic C, 3D animator, Montreal
"I had a great time in your masterclass...it was inspiring."- Arne, level designer, Montreal
As an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin,I help creatives like you explore two of the most powerful forces in our lives:the stories we tell, and the technology we use.
What do stories and computers have in common?
They connect us with the world - and with each other.
Help bring the art of storytelling into the digital age.
"One of the best instructors I've ever had."- Jack F., Radio-TV-Film graduate, UT Austin
How I Work
Whether I'm writing a script, developing content, crafting a speech or teaching a class, the process is the same:
Step One: nerd out.
Often on projects, it's my job to get up to speed - at light speed. I'm here for it. As Anthony Bourdain once said, "I love being at the bottom of a steep learning curve." I absorb as much as possible about the subject at hand - whether that's Star Wars, or higher education, or an international life of crime.
Step Two: go deep.
It's easy to get lost in the details of a project. But the big picture matters -- seeing things from end-to-end. Storytellers are your big-picture thinkers.
What insights can we pull from all this material? How can we turn these ideas into something fun, or mindblowing, or magical for other people? I'll help you find that organizing principle because, with a North Star, all things are possible. (And projects stay on track!)
Step Three: make the donuts.
Together, we turn all of the ideas and insights from Step Two into stories, scripts, presentations, workshops, videos - AKA the good stuff.
This is where collaboration is key - working with people across the team in support of that North Star vision.
Step Four: put it out on the street.
Stories need an audience. A big part of the work is advocating for the work - pitching it, sharing it, helping it find its home in the world.
What They're Saying
Stephen McManus, Narrative Designer, Telltale Games
Susan is an amazing writer who's able to challenge the tired cliches of video game narrative while still accommodating the demands of gameplay. Her style is sharp and creative. She's got great instincts for genre and character motivation.
Kavita Appachu, Consultant & Experience Designer
Susan is truly a master storyteller. She makes learning & working with her fun. I find myself applying everything I learned from her almost every day.
"Destroyer of work" (but in a good way)
John Stafford, Narrative Director, Crystal Dynamics
Susan is a true mentor and master structuralist who taught me the painful lesson of destroying my work to make it better. I often hear her voice in my head when I’m preparing to cut a character or break some story bones. “There’s no crying in baseball, son.” Ain’t that the truth.
"Netflix’s latest episode of television is an experiment in storytelling that will be familiar to people who are familiar with video games (or Choose Your Own Adventure books). The company launched an interactive TV show today, the first in a series of efforts that will allow viewers to decide which turns a story takes." - Polygon
Watch this space for an announcement in 2019!
Torn, for PlayStation VR
Torn takes place in the mansion of a physicist who disappeared 64 years ago. The mansion brims with strange, Willy Wonka-like machines haphazardly installed into its walls and floors. What are they for? And what happened to the people who built them?
If you are a Twilight Zone or Black Mirror fan, this one's for you.
The University of Texas at Austin
I LOVE TEACHING. And it's so nice to be back at my alma mater. Here's the description for the class I teach in the Radio-Television-Film department at UT: "Interactive storytelling is a form of dramatic writing, just like theater or television. What makes the medium unique is that the author does not control the story; the audience does. Creatives have only just begun to explore the storytelling possibilities of this field." Fun
When the client first reached out, I thought "uh oh, these people have called the wrong person." The subject matter was taxes, and nobody would ever mistake me for an accountant. But this project was a revelation. We went beyond the numbers, and thought hard about the EMOTIONAL relationship people have with their money. We crafted a new experience for the users, one that stayed connected with them every step of the way. It changed the way the team thought about their mission, and it changed me, too. One of the best projects I've ever worked on. My client loved it, too, and he'll tell you all about it here.
Shakespeare at Hamlet's Castle
"We want you to develop a script, retelling the moment Hamlet meets his father’s ghost. Our actors will be wearing motion-capture suits behind screens to create fantastical virtual puppets. This script must not use any words because it is for an international audience. And it will need to have an interactive component! Can you do it?" !! For this project, we found new ways to bring interactive storytelling techniques to the stage and reinterpreted Hamlet for a modern audience in a way that connects his dilemma with life in the 21st century. The play was performed at Hamlet’s castle in Elsinore, Denmark.
The studio was ready to bring Star Wars to an adult audience, with a grittier, darker environment and storyline. This was a soup-to-nuts project: in collaboration with the design team, we developed new playable characters, along with the game's narrative design, storyline, and script. The story development process focused heavily on understanding players’ love for Star Wars and finding ways to deepen that connection in new and surprising ways. The final product received an enthusiastic stamp of approval from the executive team, and the team was deep into production. Then the game’s entire design was revamped, and the project storyline required a reboot. But this remains one of my favorite projects.
The project was deep into production, and the original writer's story was testing poorly with testers and users alike. The team was under intense pressure to make significant narrative changes within tight time and budget constraints. They brought me in to take a look at the script. Together with the narrative designer, we did a deep dive on the script and identified where changes to story structure, character motivation and dialog would solve the story’s problems. The project went on to receive multiple nominations for storytelling awards. Hooray!
Stay In Touch
susan [at] susanoconnorwriter [dot] com
Represented by United Talent Agency
Cover photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash