Ask a Puppet: Episode 3

After a hiatus, Lee the Puppet is back to answer your questions. In Episode Three, Lee answers these questions.

  • Josh Storey – When an audio book is being recorded, how much does the author collaborate with the director and/or narrator on the way dialog is read?
  • Jonathan Boynton – How do you figure out character motivations? Do you stop at something simple like ‘greed’ or ‘loyalty’, or do you continue on to the reasons behind those words? And does it change depending on whether you’re dealing with a short story or a novel?
  • Alexander Verbeek – What are your opinions on the author Mary Robinette Kowal?
  • Branson Roskelley – Is academic writing (e.g. writing with award nominations) something that one should put in their query letter, or are agents/publishers just looking for fiction?

Many thanks to Alex Cox, who filmed this for me, and the Cards Against Humanities offices for the use of the space.

Got questions? Ask here in the comments. I might see them on other platforms, but not for certain.

Did you know you can support Mary Robinette on Patreon!

6 thoughts on “Ask a Puppet: Episode 3”

  1. Do you think that the gender of non-human characters (alien/fantasy creature) does or does not count toward the perceived diversity balance of the story?

    1. “Perceived diversity balance” makes me cringe. Write the story as it wants or needs to be told. I once got thanked for writing in a character of an ethnicity plus gender I am not, and found the praise awkward, because I was scared as f, I would muck it up and just make things all “white wash-y”. Apparently though, I did it well, but it was because I was writing true to the story and characters (and did some research beforehand), not because I was trying to write to some “perceived” anything.

      Just food for thought.

      1. You’re going to make me answer a question, instead of leaving it for Lee the Puppet.

        Given how often societal programming causes writers to default to characters that reinforce those paradigms, I think it’s really good for people to question their choices before writing. If a writer wants to avoid cliched phrases, or regurgitating tropes, why in heavens name wouldn’t they want to think about their casting choices?

        And finally, I have problems with “write the story as it wants.” The story is inanimate. I am writing the story *I* want, and what I *don’t* want from my stories is to do lazy-ass writing and not question my own defaults — defaults that got programmed into me by the society that I live in. I want to *choose* what I’m writing. And if that means looking at the perceived gender balance to make sure I’m not accidentally doing an all-male cast, because that’s what I grew up reading, then by God, that’s what I’m going to do.

        Lee will rant about this in a slightly different form later. Hopefully more amusing and less crotchety.

        1. First, apologies to Jared Gray, for a blase answer to a complicated and important question. Second, thank you Mrs Kowal for calling me out on it (and my writing group gets more crotchety with me than post surgery you, Mrs Kowal, so no harm there).

          I was intending to leave a comment to Jared Gray, and not to induce an answer from Lee, so apologies there. And I’d love to hear Lee’s thoughts on this matter, if only so a larger audience gets to hear instead of just us here in the comments section.

          And, it seems I fell right into that stinking unconscious bias pit with “write the story that wants to be told” because that is I’ve read so many times through the years and was told back in school. Furthermore, getting back to what I blase commented to, the “perceived diversity balance”, the biggest thing I was trying very poorly to say, was not to do something just because of political correctness, because then you end up with hollywood “one POC” and “one female” in the cast, just because they “should be there”, not because you are trying to write real women nor non white male characters.

          The cringe was aimed at how badly hollywood’s attempts at most of these are, not at the being conscious of our choices as writers as to who we put into our stories.

          When I was younger, I gave this no more thought than “I want an elf” or Russian or German or whatever. But now, Mrs Kowal is correct, I think long and hard about ethnicity, background, gender, and race of who and what I write.

          Ironically, the original comment got started because I have a non-human character, who choose purposefully, in story, to take on the appearance of a female human while on Earth whenever it physically interacted with humans, so they’d freak out less about what they were actually talking to. But “she” took on a female form not directly of any ethnicity on earth. After all, no ethnicity that I am aware of has inky black, light absorbing skin and purple dull glowing eyes. This was “her” true nature “bleeding through.”

  2. Entertaining way to give advice and opinions, and well, nothing like laughter and learning in the same room <3

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