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Bonus Cast #7

In this Bonus Cast I talk about something I think about a lot—creating accessible settings. This topic was started by the question, “How Can I Make My World Accommodating to Disabled People?” which I answered on the Mythcreants blog.

I have been working on this Bonus Cast throughout my move and I am excited to be able to finally share it with you.  I hope you enjoy it!

Photograph of a silver and black desktop microphone sitting on a white surface with its black cord trailing off to the left.

Photograph of a silver and black desktop microphone sitting on a white surface with its black cord trailing off to the left.

Bonus casts are something that I want to be doing from time to time. This will be a great way for me to share some interesting thoughts, behind the scenes tidbits, and fun pieces of world building. If you have any questions or topic ideas, please send them my way. I’d love to hear from you!

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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript.

Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

In order to make these transcripts as accessible as possible, each one is produced in four formats: as an online post for access convenience, in a word document with a low vision friendly font (Veranda), in a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic), and a low contrast blue on black pdf as an access option for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Writing Alchemy Bonus Cast 7 – Creating Accessible Settings

Note: “*” is used to indicate music and sound effects that were added to the original recording.

[*Happy, bouncy, electronic music plays and then fades out.]

FAY ONYX: Hello and welcome to Writing Alchemy Bonus Cast Number Seven. I’m Fay Onyx and today I’m going to talk about creating accessible settings.

There will be a more detailed update after the discussion, but I wanted to let you all know that my family just finished the worst part of moving, which is something that has been especially difficult for me personally. This move, and all of the things leading up to it, has been slowing down my ability to produce new content for a while. However, because I am participating in International Podcast Month, an event which is happening right now this September, I will be releasing two collaboration episodes this month. The first is a discussion about accessibility in role-playing games and the second is a folklore-inspired adventure with two new heroes. More details about both of these projects is coming up in the updates at the end of this episode.

And now I’m going to quickly mention that you can follow Writing Alchemy on twitter @ Writing underscore Alchemy, hashtag AlchemyCast, and on facebook at facebook dot com slash Writing Alchemy. You can find the show notes, with links, complete music and sound effect credits, and the transcript at Writing Alchemy dot net, where you can also find all of my podcasts, articles, stories, and other content. And if you want to help me keep this podcast going, you can pledge your support on patreon at patreon dot com slash writing alchemy, or make a donation through Ko-fi.

[*Bouncy jazz music fades in and out.]

Today’s discussion was prompted by a question from Kiera on the Mythcreants blog.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Mythcreants, they are both a blog and podcast that discusses storytelling in speculative fiction. One of the things I enjoy the most about their work is that they have a solid understanding of how oppression works. And, not only do they have episodes and articles on social justice topics, they also bring that knowledge into other discussions.

Their work, and especially the Mythcreants podcast, is very entertaining and frequently funny. I don’t like a lot of writing podcasts, but I really love the Mythcreants podcast.

I have been collaborating with the folks at Mythcreants for a while and I’ve been a guest on six of their podcast episodes, including three that came out recently. The first is called “Avoiding the Fridge,” which is about creating tragic events in stories without furthering oppression. The second is about creating healthy magic school learning environments. And the third is about harmful disability tropes. I’ll put links to all three of these in the show notes.

I am also the Mythcreants’ disability consultant. So, when Kiera sent them her question, it was passed along to me and I was the one who got to answer it in the Mythcreants’ Q & A segment.

Here is Kiera’s question:

“I am writing a non-magical fantasy story set in a low-tech world that is primarily composed of city-states with limited regional authority. I am trying to work out what kinds of seemingly realistic accommodations could/would be in place for disabled people. Culturally, I am trying to craft a world whose prejudices are very distinct from Earthly ones: no sexuality, gender-related, disability-related, or “race”-related discrimination exists. I am not trying to be “realistic” in terms of portraying the accommodations that the real past or the real present offers; I am trying to be realistic in a very optimistic, yet low-tech way, when it comes to accommodations. Do you have any advice for me?” Continue Reading »

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The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

“How Can I Make My World Accommodating to Disabled People?” is a Q & A on the Mythcreants blog where I answer a reader question about accessibility in a historical fantasy setting.

Here is the Question:

“I am writing a non-magical fantasy story set in a low-tech world that is primarily composed of city-states with limited regional authority. I am trying to work out what kinds of seemingly realistic accommodations could/would be in place for disabled people. Culturally, I am trying to craft a world whose prejudices are very distinct from Earthly ones: no sexuality, gender-related, disability-related, or “race”-related discrimination exists. I am not trying to be “realistic” in terms of portraying the accommodations that the real past or the real present offers; I am trying to be realistic in a very optimistic, yet low-tech way, when it comes to accommodations. Do you have any advice for me?

– Kiera”

Read my answer here!

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The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

A collaboration podcast with the Mythcreants about harmful disability tropes in stories! (There is a transcript in the show notes.)

“More than one in ten Americans is disabled, making it one of the largest marginalized groups in the country. Even so, storytellers often have a really difficult time portraying disabled characters. We want to change that, so this episode is all about the most problematic tropes that surround disabled characters and what storytellers can do instead. Listen as we discuss magic as an assertive device, disabled characters with physical abilities, and issues that intersect with disability.”

Check it out!

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The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

A collaboration podcast with the Mythcreants about creating magical schools! (There is a transcript in the show notes.)

“Let’s face it: most of us really want to attend a special school where they teach you magic spells. The only problem is that these schools all seem to be incredibly dangerous. Sometimes they’re filled with monsters, other times there’s an evil teacher out to get you, or maybe the teachers just don’t do anything in the face of magical bullying. But is there a better way? Can you craft a magic school that is both a positive learning environment and a good place for adventures? Listen and find out!”

Check it out!

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The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

I’m excited to be part of this Mythcreants podcast episode on avoiding fridging characters! (There are transcripts <3)

“Fiction has a long history of sacrificing marginalized characters to further the arcs of privileged characters, but these days we have a name for that: fridging. Most of us understand that fridging is bad, but why is it bad? And once we understand that, what are we supposed to do instead? Glad you asked, because that’s what today’s episode is all about! We discuss better ways to introduce tragedy, how to make the audience care, and of course, how to define a sandwich. How is that last one related? Listen and find out!“

Right now I’m in the middle of moving, which makes it hard for me to produce as much content. This makes me extra happy to have wonderful collaborations like this to share with all of you! And I am happy to say that there is more of this coming soon. 🙂

Check it out!

 

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Article About Melodrama

I’m excited that this article I did consulting for has come out!

This article is about what melodramatic writing is, why it doesn’t work, what to do instead, and how to handle emotional conditions like depression or anxiety.

The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

The Mythcreants podcast image is a stylized white crescent moon inside concentric rings of dark blue and purple that get darker father out.

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That creepy feeling is back, Willa is impressed, and a character from a beloved childhood story makes an appearance. Join us for the long-awaited conclusion to the Owlbear Reintroduction Program in the nineteenth game episode of Unfamiliar Heroes!

Willa the gecko lizardperson rogue, Tarragon the orc bard, and D’Zân the weredragon druid are participating in The Owlbear Reintroduction Program, a program that is reestablishing owlbears in areas where the owlbear populations have been previously wiped out. Of course, this is not as simple as it sounds, because owlbears are large, ferocious, magical predators. Throw in a group of skilled poachers determined to steal owlbear eggs and things are bound to get interesting. This improvised, tabletop adventure was created with the Magic Goes Awry role-playing system!

This was such a fun game to play and I’m so happy to be producing the conclusion to this wonderful story! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Listen now!

This illustration depicts three characters, each from a different genre of story, and each with a disability. On the left is a black gnome archer riding in a chariot pulled by a large brown dog. The chariot has a chair in it so that they can sit instead of stand. In the middle is a Latina woman manipulating a tech device on her wrist as she begins to go invisible. She is wearing an air filtering mask of the type that people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sometimes wear. On the right is a white muscular superhero wearing a very gay, blue superhero outfit. He has lightning crackling between his two hands, which are shaped atypically. This beautiful work of art was created the amazing Rose Adare!

This illustration depicts three characters, each from a different genre of story, and each with a disability. On the left is a black gnome archer riding in a chariot pulled by a large brown dog. The chariot has a chair in it so that they can sit instead of stand. In the middle is a Latina woman manipulating a tech device on her wrist as she begins to go invisible. She is wearing an air filtering mask of the type that people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sometimes wear. On the right is a white muscular superhero wearing a very gay, blue superhero outfit. He has lightning crackling between his two hands, which are shaped atypically. This beautiful work of art was created the amazing Rose Adare!

Unfamiliar Heroes is a podcast series where people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or divergent minds use tabletop role-playing games to together create stories that center disabled, sick, and mentally divergent characters. In its core values this project centers the experiences of people living at the intersections of oppression. Unfamiliar Heroes is part of the Writing Alchemy Podcast.

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A digital artwork with slices of five images arranged in a fan. From left to right they are: a photograph of a character sheet with blue dice and a green pencil, The International Symbol of Access (a blue background with a white stylized image of a person in a wheelchair), a chaotic pile of dice in many colors and styles, splattered rainbow paints with a black and white drawing of a brain on top, and miniature houses with figurines of people in action poses.

A digital artwork with slices of five images arranged in a fan. From left to right they are: a photograph of a character sheet with blue dice and a green pencil, The International Symbol of Access (a blue background with a white stylized image of a person in a wheelchair), a chaotic pile of dice in many colors and styles, splattered rainbow paints with a black and white drawing of a brain on top, and miniature houses with figurines of people in action poses.

 

Any time I am running a game or writing a story, I want to create a diverse cast of characters. With so many different types of oppression and identities to be aware of, this is something that takes a bit of thought and intention.

Trying to think about every type of oppression at once can be overwhelming. What I do instead is write out a list of the cast of characters and go through and assess each type of representation individually, making changes as necessary.

This article is the list of different questions I ask myself when I’m doing this assessment process. I made this list thorough because I want it to be useful for a wide range of different projects. Because of this, some questions will not be applicable to certain projects. In addition, it is not always possible to include every type of representation in a particular project, especially for projects with small numbers of characters. What matters is being intentional about who is included and noticing any trends that develop from project to project.

Also, please keep in mind that the medium being used (text, images, etc.) will affect which identities are easy to depict clearly and which take more effort (especially for minor characters). When identities are harder to depict, it is important to resist the temptation to fall back on stereotype.

 

Representation of Women and Men

  • How many women are there? And how many men are there?
  • Are any of the men or women depicted stereotypically?
  • How many of these men or women are gender nonconforming? (For example, feminine men or masculine women.)
  • Are there men and women who have nontraditional gender roles? (For example, men who take on nurturing roles or women who take on protective roles.)

 

Transgender and Nonbinary Representation

For those who want more information on representing transgender and nonbinary characters, check out the “Gender and the Gaming Table” article series by M Grant.

  • How many characters are transgender?
  • How many characters are nonbinary?
  • Are some of the trans and nonbinary characters people of color?
  • Are stereotypes being avoided in the depictions of these trans and nonbinary characters?

Continue Reading »

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I’ve written about tools that make the process of transcribing podcast episodes easier (Otter.ai and YouTube), but it is also important to know what to transcribe and how the finished transcript should look. That’s what this style guide is for.

Because style guides can be a bit abstract, all of the information in this style guide is presented in three ways. Written explanations are given in the “How to Write and Format a Transcript” section. These instructions are repeated as a template in the “Transcript of Podcast Episode Title” section. Finally, an example transcript that demonstrates all of the things talked about in the previous sections is given in the “Transcript of Writing Alchemy Episode 100 – Imaginary Game Part 1” section. To make things easier, this article is also available as a word document: General Style Guide for Podcast Transcription.

Before we get started, I want to make it clear that there isn’t as single best way to do podcast transcripts. This style guide contains common practices for making transcripts clear, informative, and readable. You don’t have follow the exact format given here. Do what works for you. What matters most is readability and consistency within the transcript. If you would like an alternative explanation for how to format transcripts, I recommend checking out “The Podcaster’s Guide to Transcribing Audio” by the folks at the Join the Party Podcast.

When deciding the exact format of the podcast transcript that will work best for you, it is helpful to know how you will be posting the transcript. For example, for maximum accessibility, the Writing Alchemy episode transcripts are posted in four different formats. Because one of these formats does not show bold text, participant names in Writing Alchemy transcripts are written in all caps.

Please note that this article contains general advice for podcast transcripts. For those interested in the Writing Alchemy specific style guide, that can be found here: Writing Alchemy Transcript Style Guide.

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

 

How to Write and Format a Transcript

Core Transcript Practices:

  • Write the name of the person who is talking in bold, followed by a colon, and then what was said in the regular font style. Note that there are different ways of doing this formatting (for example, using all caps instead of bold). Do what works for you. What matters most is readability and consistency within the transcript.
  • Make a new paragraph each time a new person speaks, or if a person switches between talking as a character and talking as themselves.
  • Don’t indent paragraphs. Instead, format the transcript document to automatically have a space after each paragraph. Note that this is particularly helpful if posting the transcript on a website, as many websites automatically add spaces after paragraphs. Doing this helps avoid situations where extra spaces are put into the transcript that will need to be deleted once it is on the website.
  • Descriptions of music, sound effects, and other important sounds (like dice rolling, group cheers, and sounds that are commented on) are written in brackets on their own line. Note that background sounds that no one reacts to are usually ignored.
  • Expressive sounds that are part of talking, like gasps, sighs, and laughter are described in brackets in the same line as the talking they go with.
  • Brief descriptions of unusual ways of speaking, such as whispering, squealing, or talking in a silly voice, are written in brackets right before the words that were said in that manner.

Continue Reading »

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