Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 17: Characters & Worldbuilding Q&A with Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary is back! We still had a Mary Robinette Kowal episode from WorldCon 67, and now you have it too! We take questions from the audience, and then answer them. Here are the questions:

  • What do you do if your characters revolt and start to take over the story?
  • When you became a writer what most surprised you with its difficulty?
  • How do you build the history for the worlds your books are set in?

Three huge questions, TWELVE answers. Enjoy!

Oh… and your writing prompt: write about The Predestined Monkey.


21 thoughts on “Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 17: Characters & Worldbuilding Q&A with Mary Robinette Kowal”

  1. Monkey’s seem predestined to find themselves in front of keyboards eventually, Other than that, eating bananas and flinging poop seem to be the whole of their lives.

  2. You mean there’s more to life than that? What have I been missing out on?

    It is always great when I get a podcast before bedtime. Even better than getting it before work.

  3. If I attended any con with you guys speaking, I know the question I’d ask: Why are you so good at podcasting?! :)

    You misnamed the podcast in the itunes directory though. It was like another time-travel one: “Writing Excuses Episode 3 Season 17.” My first reaction was “What? What have I missed?” ;)

  4. Chucky needed his diaper changed. He was being quiet, however. The squishy feeling was kind of nice.

    He heard the door open. His mother was trying to be quiet as well, but it would help if she had father oil the squeaky bottom hinge. She woke him up all the time coming to fuss over him. Not this time, however.

    She climbed up the side of his crib with two legs and one hand. Her index finger and thumb were over her nose. Soft hair brushed his forehead.

    “Poor little Lightbringer,” she cooed, “So good you never even fling your leavings.”

    Throw it around? Chucky had never thought of that. Maybe next time.

  5. Brandon needs new headshots is what Brandon needs. The current picture is a photoshopped convention snap in which the distracting background bits have been removed. I think this is a placeholder until new headshots are have been taken.

  6. I’m surprised someone else picked up on Brandon’s picture, because last week I brought it up and then no one commented on it :(

    I imagine the predestined monkeys as having little Schlock-tech antennas coming out of their heads, so all their thoughts and actions are being controlled by some outside force; hence the name “Predestined Monkeys”.

  7. I think that there was twelve of these monkeys.

    Re Brandon’s picture, I noticed and agreed with Alan, but didn’t see fit to comment. You should probably just revert to the previous pic, which made him look like he was actually happy to be on the website.

  8. By the way, on a technical note; when we post, there is a redirect that tries to locate us at our posting, with a URL ending like so: https://writingexcuses.com/2009/09/20/writing-excuses-episode-3-season-17-characters-worldbuilding-qa-with-mary-robinette-kowal/comment-page-1/#comment-36527

    However, the <a name=36527> that would make that function correctly looks like it’s been deleted from the PHP file. I think that because the source code for my comment above on this page says this: <div class=”com-entrymtext”>September 21, 2009 @ 8:17 pm</a> (newline) </div> – note the unmatched </a>. Perhaps it’s intentional, but I am guessing not.

  9. On the subject of characters taking over the story, I really identified with what Dan said. Here is my policy when it comes to characters taking a new tack on the story, “I can’t throw away anything that I haven’t already written.” So, if the story is going somewhere I didn’t expect, I just write it and see what happens. A lot of the time, this is even better than what I had imagined. Sometimes it is garbage. But the point is that if I hadn’t written it, I never would have known its quality.

  10. Ellyn,

    I’m surprised no one else has noticed. Especially since the Title of the podcast on the writing excuses website is wrong too. It’s not just Itunes.

    I guess it shows how much of us pay attention to detail. Were just eager to get to the good stuff in the podcast.

    One wonders however if this slip up was intentional?

    Maybe next weeeks podcast is about the importance of writing groups(podcast groups?) in editing your work?

  11. @ Ed: Hehe, you’re right! Brandon’s current pic looks kinda like a mugshot! Howard, is Schlock behind him with his cannons?

    How about the trio doing a podcast on titles? Book titles, series titles, etc.?

  12. How different people write is fascinating, and I think educational for us to hear on it from the pros. Thanks for another great podcast. I’ll agree that the Brandon photo is less than stellar, and definitely squinty. I’m not sure it requires derision, but I’m sure everyone is just concerned that Brandon put his best “face” forward.

    By the way I got my first rejection on a short sent to F & SF. Woot! Taking Brandon’s advice, I mailed a very short thank-you letter. I will probably frame the rejection at some point – it is after all on a conveniently small sized piece of paper.

  13. So… It cuts off between 8 and 9 minutes… I’d really like to hear the rest of this one.

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