“Neil Gaiman” is a name that is tossed around a lot in the writing community… and the sci-fi community… and the comics community… and probably several other communities as well. Though I only learned about him a few years ago with his first Dr. Who episode, he’s considered a massive cult writer and is becoming mainstream fast. If you’ve ever read or watched anything written by him, you’ve probably liked it and wondered how you could ever make your writing that interesting and fascinating. In this “How (Not) to Write” article, I will reveal Gaiman’s secrets to you so that you can write your very own modern fantasy masterpiece!
1. Don’t overdo your plot. Yeah, you could go to all the work of coming up with your own original storyline that isn’t like everything else, but we already know what stories are popular now. Go for the quests, or the girl (or guy) who gets lost in a fantasy world and is trying to get back home. Everyone loves that kind of story!
2. Keep characters simple. Character designing doesn’t have to be the hard work everyone claims it is! For most of your characters, you should water their personality down to a single word. Anything: door, whistler, carpet, tattoo… That word will be both the name of the character (for something simple and unique!) and the basis for everything about that character. Also, know your genders. Men should be more whimsical and impulsive, while women are controlled and rational. That should make storytelling a lot easier!
3. Make the setting matter. It’s a lot easier to make a distinctive setting than to make distinctive characters or plot. This is where you should put your energy! Add quirks and sharp details that are uniquely your own, and infuse it into every area of your story.
4. Recycling is totally ok! Keep coming up with exciting variations and settings, and your readers will continue to love you. It’s fine if your write the same story three times in a row, so long as it takes place in a different world and has slight differences in character and plot.
5. Give it an Easter egg. Disney puts a Mickey Mouse head into its movies. Give your readers a nice surprise by doing the same thing! Work in cameos from your other works and you’ll get everyone involved and excited.
6. Be revolutionary… in the right ways. You can slack all you want on plot if you have a setting no one else has ever visualized. Know one strength and know it well, and you can ignore everything else that you want! (Disclaimer: Actually, this might be good advice. I’ll have to do an article about that. Just don’t use it as an excuse.)
Congrats, you are now capable of writing your very own Neil Gaiman masterpiece! Please comment below on other Gaiman-like tips you know of and why you love (or hate) this great writer!