Writing Advice: Neil Gaiman

I have not read a Neil Gaiman book, I’m not particularly drawn to the genre in which he writes – BUT he is compelling when he speaks about writing, as in this video.  Thank you to Nicola Valentine, who pieced it together (in part to advertise her writing course on Udemy.)  Neil Gaiman has his own writing class by video in the series of “Masterclass”.

This 12 minute video is a game of 4 parts:

  1. starting with a beautifully filmed and hilarious answer to the eternal questions “Where do you get your ideas from?” Neil’s response is standup done from a sitting position, with one foot laconically crossed on one knee
  2. a technically simpler section without a live audience, where he sits and reads questions from the public, and answers them – Will Fantasy go out of fashion? Do you believe the things you write about or is it pure fiction for you?
  3. back to a well filmed TV interview “Will Robots take over the human race?”
  4. and then finally in the most powerful speech, recorded poorly and from distance, he responds to the Charlie Hebdo tragedy about comedy/satire, the power of ideas and words and freedom of spech

Style – he has clearly thought through answers to often-asked questions, and has an actor’s way of enunciating clearly and with emphasis, excellent comedic timing, and a terrific vocabulary.  (If you close your eyes, it’s a little like listening to Alan Rickman).

Video Comments

The Youtube viewers’ comments are an interesting sideshow:

“the Reason he is defensive about the secret about where his ideas come from is – his hair is actually a creature that lives on his head and whispers the ideas into his ears”

“I need to marry a man with his voice”

“If robots ever take over, I will seek out Neil Gaiman and use him as a human shield”

“Writers, real writers, do not need creative writing lessons.  They cannot stop, it’s what they do. They do so much of it they get good at it.  That’s the lesson they learn.”


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