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marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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Raksura
marthawells

Question Answer

lukamender from Tumblr asked:

I love your books, especially the Raksura series. If you're still taking writing/publishing questions, I wanted to ask you about any advice you might have on writing non-human/animal-ish-people, with more unique social structures, as the central characters in the story. Are there any special tricks that really make this work? Are there challenges in pitching material like this (they're not human, they have different than normal genders, etc.) to publishers?

Thank you!

Are there any special tricks that really make this work?

Point of view is incredibly important anyway, but I think when writing from the perspective of non-human characters it's super-duper incredibly important. You have to think about how the physical attributes you've given them will affect their culture, social structure, interactions with each other, interactions with other groups. The culture and social structure is going to inform the choices they make, the way they feel about the things that happen. You need to try to be as consistent as you can, and try to get into the characters' heads and see your world through their eyes.

Sympathizing with a non-human character is usually not a problem. (For most readers, anyway. Some people just won't do it but they aren't your audience so forget them.) You can sympathize with an amorphous blob as long as it has issues that engage you. When I'm talking about this, as an example, I bring up the first Pixar trailer with the desk lamp. It turns to look at you, and suddenly it's a person. It's easier to do that with text, since we have the option of showing the audience the living desk lamp from its own perspective.

Are there challenges in pitching material like this (they're not human, they have different than normal genders, etc.) to publishers?

For a novel, usually it's an agent who you'll be pitching to. The right agent for you will be the one who will get what you're trying to do and like it, and she'll be the one pitching to a publisher on your behalf. Whether the agent likes it or not is going to depend more on your writing ability, your story-telling, how compelling the story was. (If it's your first book it should be complete before you start querying agents. Lots of people have great ideas and can write first chapters, but the only way you can prove you're one of the people who can finish a book is by finishing a book.)

You don't usually pitch short stories, so you'd just be submitting the complete story to the magazine and hoping they like it.

I hope that helps!


I'm still taking questions, general question about publishing (how it works, agents, etc), or a writing advice question, or a question about my writing, or my books, or cats, or anything else I've been doing, ask in this post and I'll try to answer it.

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I've always wondered where the inspiration for the Raksura came from. I don't recall ever seeing you talk about that.

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