Becoming a Mental Puppet Master

A puppet is a prop that requires an incredible degree of skill, dexterity, and imagination.

As a puppet master gets more skilled, movements start to look more natural, and less like death throws. Over time, the puppet has gained some degree of composure without being so tangled up in itself so as to leave the arm hanging where the head should be.

Now that the puppet master has learned some of the basics, possibilities start to emerge. As these possibilities grow and movements refine, it becomes possible to start incorporating interactions using props.

But which to choose? A difficult question.

The master looks at the puppet and then at the prop gallery to select the ones that they feel would best suit the identity of their puppet.

The master makes a few selections to try out different characters. They select a sofa and tv for a living room scene, a desk and bookshelf for a library scene, and finally a skateboard and ramp for an extreme sports scene.

Of these 3, an identity must be formed by creating a proportioned relationship with each of the categories of objects. The master must learn to maneuver the puppet in such ways as to make movements look as organic as possible, but which props would be easiest to start with?

The master decides to set up the scene for the couch and tv. The puppet is maneuvered into position onto the couch and the master quickly learns how to work the strings of the puppet to make it look like it’s sitting comfortably and watching tv. This becomes easy quickly and the master becomes confident that their skills may be boundless.

Next, the master turns their attention to the desk and library scene. In order for the puppet to move organically through the setting, the master had to figure out how to make the puppet pick up books on both the shelf and the desk, as well as to move the chair out to sit, then back in again to make use of the desk.

This process took much longer than the tv scene. Dexterity had to dramatically improve in order to make it seem as though the puppet could read. The master is feeling less confident about their title, but eventually, the movements are learned through effort and frustration, and the scene is perfected.

Evermore boastful, the master moves on to the skate park’s final scene.

This is the most difficult challenge the puppet master has faced. In order to make a convincing skateboarder, the master themself must embody the athleticism and grit to work the strings to make even basic motions possible. Motions as simple as getting the board to move forward or backward will require all their skill and likely more.

Months go by. Progress is slow and the puppet is damaged on several occasions. Strings snap, and limbs are no longer a fine varnish.

Finally, it happens.

The puppet is able to stand on the board, and move forward a few inches with a kick from one of the legs. The puppet master is so pleased with themselves that they throw the puppet down and celebrate. The task has been completed. They have earned their title.

With this now mastered, no additional effort is required. The puppet master wears their earned title with pride, then returns the puppet to work the library and tv scenes. The puppet flows organically through each of the 2 scenes as if it had always belonged there.

The task is complete.

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