Writer Emergency Pack and Accessibility

Writer Emergency Pack

If you follow this blog at all, you have read about the Writer Emergency Pack by now. And you know that I use it for my current writing exercise, Writer Emergency Fiasco.

If you don’t know what the deck is about, let me quote a blurb straight from their Kickstarter page:

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.

Now. I’d like to take a minute and talk about the pack itself, and what the people behind the pack are doing with it (because these people are amazing).

First off, let me quote the creator’s bio on Kickstarter, John August:

I’m a screenwriter and director. My writing credits include Go, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Frankenweenie. I’ve also written fiction, television and the book to a Broadway musical.

I co-host Scriptnotes, a popular podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. It’s an offshoot of my website, johnaugust.com, which has been giving advice to aspiring screenwriters since 2003.

Through my company (Quote-Unquote Apps), I also make apps for writers, including Highland and Weekend Read.

For the past twelve years, I’ve been an adviser at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, working with filmmakers developing their next projects.

The inspiration for the Writer Emergency Pack comes from all of the above sources.

RYAN NELSON designed the Writer Emergency Pack. He helped created the Highland and Weekend Read apps, along with many web projects. You’ll see his updates throughout this campaign.

When the Kickstarter was going on–and one of the reasons I was drawn to it–they said that they would mirror every pack of cards funded and sold through the campaign, and sent it out to youth writing programs. While I’m not involved in any such programs, I absolutely see the value in them. Hell, if anyone would have encouraged the young me to join some such program, I might have turned out to be a successful writer by now.


I’m in love with the deck. If you follow my current project, The Honeymoon, and read the behind the scenes posts, you know how much the deck is working out for me.

And now they have released an update on their Kickstarter site with the following comment:

Making WEP work for everyone

We designed Writer Emergency Pack as a deck of printed cards rather than an app or a website so that you’re never distracted by digital doodads. For most writers, analog is the right choice.

But for some writers, print is tough. One backer wrote that her cerebral palsy made it difficult to hold things. Another friend is a screenwriter and author — theoretically the perfect user for Writer Emergency Pack — except he’s blind. He uses special software to read things aloud.

Ryan Nelson spent the past few weeks working on an accessible version of Writer Emergency Pack. You can find it online here:


To most of us, it looks like a straightforward, bare-bones web page. Under the hood, he’s built in tags and semantic markers to make it work better with screen readers and other software for writers with different needs. We’ve had several users test it out, but we always welcome more feedback.

Need I say more? Already, a backer has commented on it that he has a condition that makes it hard for him to use the card without help, and now he doesn’t have that issue anymore (out of respect for privacy, I’m not going into detail on that person).

They’re also talking about their educational goals:


Writer Emergency Pack was designed as a give-one-get-one campaign. Now that we have almost all the decks out to backers, our focus has shifted to getting decks to our youth writing program partners.

I’m happy to announce we’ll be working with NaNoWriMo to get these decks in 2,000 classrooms this fall. In addition to nudging would-be novelists each November, NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers Program complete with lesson plans and materials for grade school though high school.

We’ll have other major partnerships to announce, but in the meantime I want to hear your suggestions for great local programs. You can let us know here:


I’m still planning on hiring on an educational consultant to help coordinate outreach to both big and small programs. Now that we’re out to backers, the education decks are the next priority.

I highly encourage everyone to bookmark their website and sign up for the email newsletter. If you’re a writer, or know a writer, and want your kids to be one, or something, get this deck. Support these people.

And John August and everyone involved in creating this simple, but powerful tool–and everything you’re doing with and through it–thank you.

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