Category Archives: Theory and Technique

17.47: The Linguistics of Disability

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, C.L. Polk, Fran Wilde, and Howard Tayler 

This is the “talking about how to talk about” talk. We begin by reviewing the difference between the medical model and the social model of disability.

Liner Notes: This TikTok provides a nice explanation of the medical and social models of disability. There’s also this essay, “The Linguistics of Disability” over at Fireside Fiction.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Being Seen, by Elsa Sjunneson

17.46: Monstrous Awakening

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, C.L. Polk, Fran Wilde, and Howard Tayler 

Okay, before we start, you have homework: Please take a few minutes to read this essay by Fran Wilde entitled “You Wake Up Monstrous.

That will give you context for our discussion, which is about how body horror and other monstrous-ness is a tool we should be employing with great care.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Rewrite a scene containing body horror or body humor so that the character with the  disability/deformity is neither the source of the horror nor the butt of the joke.

17.45: Bodies, Tech, and Character

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, C.L. Polk, Fran Wilde, and Howard Tayler 

Let’s talk about technological body-modification! It’s a common element in science fiction, but it’s also an increasingly important part of the world we’re living in right now.

Liner Notes: In this episode we referenced “Happenstance,” and Amy Purdy’s quickstep from Dancing With The Stars.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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In the context of your world, envision an augmentation that is both beautiful and useful.

A Rover’s Story, by Jasmine Warga

17.43: Bodies. Why? (Depicting Disability)

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette and Howard Tayler, with special guests Fran WildeC.L. Polk, and William Alexander

Whether or not you’re writing from your own experience, depicting disability in fiction is fraught. In this episode we’ll talk about some of the dos and don’ts in order to provide you with guidelines for disability depiction.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

 

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Write a scene with two characters – one abled, one disabled. Write two versions, each from the POV of a different character.

Air, by Monica Roe

17.42: Eight Embodied Episodes About Disability

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette and Howard Tayler, with special guests Fran Wilde, C.L. Polk, and William Alexander

For the next eight episodes we’ll be talking about bodies, and how they don’t all work the same way, and how this can be applied to our writing.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Identify an aspect of yourself which might be non-problematic in one society, yet very problematic in another.

INVISIBLE, a series of anthologies ed. Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj

17.41: Picture Books are Books Too, with Special Guest Seth Fishman

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, with special guest Seth Fishman

Seth Fishman, author of seven picture books (as well as lots of longer-form stuff), joins us to talk about writing picture books, including some of the business and publication aspects.

No-Context Pull Quote: “Your art is so bad we’re going to hire someone to draw badly for you.”

Credits: This episode was recorded live by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Explore the picture book area in your local bookstore. See how it’s laid out, and have a look at some classic picture books. Then write a 500-word SF/F picture book.

BAD DRAWER, by Seth Fishman (and friends), illustrated by Jessixa Bagley , Armand Baltazar, Anna Bond, Travis Foster), Jessica Hische, Tillie Walden, and Ethan Young, (with a pair of trees drawn by the author.)

17.40: Questions & Answers About Structure, with Special Guest Peng Shepherd

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, with special guest Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd joined us aboard Liberty of the Seas for WXR 2022, and returned with us to the topic of story structures. In this episode we answer questions from our live audience. The questions include:

  1. How do you make sure you’ve got the right number of plot threads?
  2. How do you spread the structure of a given plot line across multiple books?
  3. How do you avoiding having subplots distract readers from the main plot?
  4. What are some strategies you can use to better align character goals with the overall problem of the story?
  5. Are there clear dos and don’ts with regard to story structure?
  6. How do you prepare or color-code bits for running a role-playing game? More broadly: what organizational tools do you use for story structure?

For the answers, you’ll have to give the episode a listen…

Credits: This episode was recorded live by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write a piece of fiction (or an outline) outside your usual length. See how that changes your structural choices.

The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal
(pre-order now! It releases on October 11th!)

17.39: Writing Bodies and Intimacy, with K.M. Szpara

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dongwon Song, Piper J. Drake,  & Howard Tayler, with special guest K. M. Szpara

CONTENT WARNING: this episode is about adult acts and adult bodies, and we won’t be using euphemisms. 

K.M. Szpara joined us at WXR 2022 for this discussion of writing bodies and intimacy, with a particular focus on which kinds of words to use for things.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr. before a live audience aboard Liberty of the Seas. It was mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

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Write a scene in which a character is undressing, either alone or with others.

First Become Ashes, by K.M. Szpara