From Neil Gaiman's MasterClass

The Writer’s Responsibilities

Neil concludes with a deeply personal discussion of the responsibilities that people who create art have to their audience and what this means for humans as a whole.

Topics include: Parting Advice

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Neil concludes with a deeply personal discussion of the responsibilities that people who create art have to their audience and what this means for humans as a whole.

Topics include: Parting Advice

Neil Gaiman

Teaches the Art of Storytelling

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Over the years, one of the things that I've given an enormous amount of thought to is what my responsibilities are as a person who creates art. It wasn't something I thought about to begin with. It wasn't until a man was found dead, believed to be a suicide, with a note on his chest saying that the Sandman did it, and the Sandman would bring perfect peace, and a copy of "Sandman" by the body. I had to go, hang on, did I do this. What happened? And I had a very, very bad weekend. And then, a few days later, I discovered that actually he wasn't-- it wasn't a suicide. He'd been murdered. He'd been murdered by his boyfriend who had written the note and put the comic there to try and make people think that this was a "Sandman"-inspired suicide. And the boyfriend also killed himself. And I was very angry. I felt like someone had tried to frame me for murder. But I also thought that the questions that it raised-- what is my responsibility-- were huge and important questions. And what I decided was my responsibility is to tell good stories and tell honest stories, tell them as well as I can, tell them to as many people as I can. My responsibility is to encapsulate, as much as I, can the things I believe and the values that I believe in the stories but also having a point of view, being willing to allow other points of view in, to be able to allow characters who I might not even want to associate with into my fiction, and to do them justice. Those, I figure, are my responsibility. And that, for me, has to be there at the bottom of everything that I write. So I need to be able to point to "Good Omens" and say, yes, it's a farce. It's a silly, funny farce about the end of the world. But absolutely, it has a message I can stand behind. It says that human beings have to be responsible. We have to fix the world, that war is very rarely a good idea, and avoiding war, which rarely gets praised, actually is huge and important, and that, , really we have to remember that the greatest triumphs and the greatest tragedies of the human race are nothing to do with people being basically good or people being basically evil, they're all to do with people being basically people. And so that-- I can take a farce, and I can stand behind it. I can say, this-- this is something I believe. This is real. I can take a book like "Coraline" and say, it's filled with scary stuff for kids, absolutely. There are people who feel that is absolutely and utterly inappropriate, and kids should be kept safe from all the darkness and all the terror and all the bad things. And to those people, I say good luck to you, although I personally believe that if you are keeping people-- young people safe from the darkness, then all you're doing is, when the darkness shows up, you are denying them tools or weapons that they might have needed and could have had. But really, it's a book about bravery. It's a book about carrying on. And that for me is important. I know I can ...

Unleash your imagination

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman has spent more than a quarter of a century crafting vivid, absorbing fiction. Now, the author of Stardust, Coraline, and The Sandman teaches his approach to imaginative storytelling in his online writing class. Learn how to find your unique voice, develop original ideas, and breathe life into your characters. Discover Neil’s philosophy on what drives a story—and open new windows to the stories inside you.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I am not a writer perse, but a visual artist that is convinced that learning to see through words like some of my favourite authors, like Neil allows me to be a better artist. I wasn't disappointed. Miigwech for this heartfelt and engaging series!!!

Wonderful orator. Wonderful mind. Wonderful lessons. Wonderful man.

Not only really practical lessons and advice, but the motivation and inspiration to move forward. Brilliant.

I have learned that I am moving in the right direction, but that I have to move faster. I have learned to finish what I am on now so that I can have something to edit into brilliance. And I have learned not to answer complicated questions on a tablet with a touch-screen keyboard.

Comments

ERIC B.

The calm in your voice and the space between your words ,will for ever be accessible as a narrator helping me solve my imaginative blanks . Thanks Neil Gaiman !

Pamela G.

thank you so much Neil Gaiman! You're honest in your advice and humble in your wisdom. You sprinkle diamonds and you don't say they're not hard.

Daniel H.

Great conclusion: "Tell good stories, tell honest stories"; I also loved the part where Neil says: "You are going to need every human being you ever meet" ;)

Janelle T.

Thank you so much for this lesson and all the valuable information that was shared! This was my favourite Masterclass in particular, and I absolutely loved it. The advice was so inspiring and interesting to hear.

Skye B.

Absolutely loved this class! Such wonderful realistic advice and so inspiring. I was sad when it was over.

Kathy C.

This was incredibly helpful. I have the information I was missing to finish my novel. In a week or so I'll have a rough draft of my sixth novel and will be able to move on to outlining and planning book seven while I wait for it to settle so I can edit it.

Antonina M.

My favorite MasterClass. Gave me inspiration and energy to go and finish the book I've been writing for the last six months. Thank you!

Raquel G.

My favorite MasterClass so far. Neil was clear, interesting and entertaining.

A fellow student

It took me two months to get to this final chapter -because I don’t ever wanna finish this amazing class. Now it’s time. Muito obrigada. Já estou com saudades (miss you already)

Nick E.

This class, these lectures, and the amazing mind of Neil Gaiman have not only continued to fuel an already burning fire, but they provided the air needed to make it grow. Going in I had not expected much, just that I would get great advice from the greatest wordsmith in fantasy. Now that I have completed it I can say, with confidence, that I am leaving this course a better writer, and a better storyteller. The insight given on each step of various processes will not soon be forgotten, and will be applied in all my work to come. Thank you, Neil. PS. Neil Gaiman could read me the daily obituaries of strangers as a bedtime story and make it sound like art.