Image source: 俺妹&エロマンガ先生放送中! on Twitter

Hidden within the rom-com story of Eromanga Sensei are some great writing tips for aspiring writers. 

Masamune Izumi is a light-novel author. He soon learns his shut-in younger sister Sagiri is the illustrator of his novel series. Now, Masamune wants to work with Sagiri to make a novel that will get an anime adaptation so the two can watch it together. But, in order to do that, Masamune has to step up his writing game.

Writing for a large audience is a difficult thing to do. But, with a little practice, anyone can improve his or her writing skill. And without overtly stating it, Eromanga Sensei gives us some wonderful advice.

Keep Your Audience in Mind

A pitfall some novice writers fall into is trying to write a story that appeals to everyone. While this sentiment sounds nice, you’ll never be able to satisfy everyone with your writing. Then we should write for ourselves? The answer here is “no” as well. When you’re writing professionally, it’s not good enough to write to satisfy your own ego. If you do, the only person who’ll truly be satisfied is yourself. That’s why it’s incredibly important to keep your target audience in mind when you write. Essentially, you’re writing to please one specific group of people.

You can see the importance of this in the fourth episode of the series, where Masamune writes a story essentially for his sister alone. That is his audience, he knew it—and so did Elf Yamada after reading the manuscript. In turn, in the same episode, Elf writes a story that is a little on the lewd side because she believes her audience (i.e., Eromanga Sensei) to be a perverted man. In this, we see exactly how critical it is to keep your audience in mind. In other words: Know your target audience.

Image source: 俺妹&エロマンガ先生放送中! on Twitter

Work Hard at Getting Better at What You’re Not Good At

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s far more difficult than you might think. Mainly because you have to pinpoint what you’re not good at. But, once you know your weaknesses, all you have to do is practice.

Finding your weaknesses as a writer can be difficult because we tend to overlook our own flaws. However, there’s an easy remedy for this: showing your work to people you trust and getting their advice. In Eromanga Sensei we actually see this with Sagiri more so than any other character. It isn’t until Masamune points out some of her weaknesses that Sagiri begins to notice other failings in her art. Even with Masamune, there are instances where he seeks out other people’s experiences. One case is when he has to write a project proposal in the fifth episode. Since he has no clue where to begin he seeks the help of the much more popular Elf.

So, then how can we improve on our weaknesses? The simple answer is practice. No writer or artist starts off as an expert. They all start as novices. But, through practice and study, they improve their craft and are able to wean out their limitations. Returning to Sagiri, in the fourth episode, she shows Masamune an illustration of his characters in action poses. Sagiri explains that she spent a couple weeks studying how to draw action poses and practicing what she learned. Like Sagiri, identifying our Achilles’ heels and strengthening them can improve our writing greatly.

Do What Works for You

We all have our ideal way of writing. Some of us let ideas brew for weeks on end, some take endless notes, and some are just able to let the ideas flow in. We’re all different, and it’s best to write in a way that’s best for you.

This comes up a few times in the series, but it’s clear how characters like Masamune, Elf, and Muramasa Senju have different writing methods. For instance, Elf sits on an idea and lets it mature as she plays video games, while Masamune constantly writes. These are vastly different writing methods, but they work for the characters. Here’s the kicker, the characters never try to mimic each other’s writing method. They’ll make arguments about why their method is better, but never try to copy each other’s method outright. In other words, find your method and stick with it.

Image source: 俺妹&エロマンガ先生放送中! on Twitter

Make It a Competition

Making writing a competition isn’t about competing against yourself or your editor, but with other writers. Or to put it another way, make sure you have a rival. This may not be the first thing you think of when writing, but having a rival is extremely important. It’ll push you to become better and keep you thinking about interesting stories for your audience.

When you have someone to compete against, it forces you to become better at what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sport, a game, or writing. When you have a rival, you are driven to do better, and you will ultimately improve. When Masamune and Elf are competing over which author Eromanga should draw for next in the early episodes of Eromanga Sensei, we see that the two characters put their all into writing their stories. And that’s because neither character wants to lose. Even in the sixth episode, when Masamune’s editor enters him into a writer’s competition, we see how it forces him to do his best work.

There is one other factor that’s a little more ugly than just improving your writing when turning writing into a competition. That’s sales numbers. In Eromanga Sensei, it can be disheartening listening to Elf talk about her novels’ sales numbers, but there’s a good reason for this. It’s a clear indicator of who is more popular.

Looking at the manga industry, there’s a clear reason why Weekly Shonen Jump takes polls from readers. Part of it is for collecting data, but another part of it is to show the authors how well they’re doing in comparison to the other authors. When Elf talks about her novels’ sales numbers, she’s clearly showing her dominance, in terms of popularity, to the other characters. It’s ugly, but at the same time breeds the urge to write a better story and improve one’s own writing in Masamune. Of course, don’t forget, this is friendly competition and not anything more serious.

Listen to Your Editor

As often as anime makes us think editors are a writer’s worst enemy, this is far from the truth. Sure, some editors can be difficult, but they have the best intentions for you, your story, and what the readers want.

No editor is your enemy. Editors aren’t there to hound you when your manuscript is late. They may seem imposing and sometimes tell you your writing is subpar, but they’re doing this to help you improve your writing and present the best possible work to the readers. They’re there to look at your story from the perspective of the reader. And that kind of insight is some of the best you’ll get as a writer.

Add on top of this how editors are great people to bounce ideas off of when you’re stuck. Sometimes, an idea just won’t come to you or you’re having difficulty ironing out a plot point. This is where an editor can really help you. Remember, an editor is there to help you create the best possible story for the readers. If they can assist you in that, it’s the best possible reward for them. We don’t see it often in Eromanga Sensei, but we see Masamune’s editor Ayame Kagurazaka is thinking about what’s best for him, even if she does hound him for new novel ideas.

Image source: 俺妹&エロマンガ先生放送中! on Twitter

Just Keep Writing

There’s no other way to put it than that. Just keep writing. The more you write, the more you’ll improve.

Remember, nobody ever starts as an expert; we all start as novices. But, the more we write, the better we’ll become. And it really doesn’t take much to just keep writing. There are many scenes in the series where Masamaune is sitting in front of his computer typing up manuscripts. That’s essentially him keeping at his craft. Even Sagiri keeps up her skills by drawing every day and even streaming her work. If we go to real-life examples, it’s said that author Ernest Hemingway wrote 500 words per day. That’s not much, but it’s that constant writing that made Hemingway an author studied in literature classrooms across the world. If we take a page out of Masamune, Sagiri, or Hemingway’s books, and write a little bit everyday, we can all become better writers in no time.

Eromanga Sensei is streaming on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, and Amazon Anime Strike.

Comments (3)
  1. Well… the anime itself teach you how to NOT write.

    • nevermind, I’m just being a dick

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