Chapter 19 of 19 from Neil Gaiman

The Writer’s Responsibilities

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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

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling

In his first-ever online class, Neil Gaiman teaches you how he conjures up new ideas, convincing characters, and vivid fictional worlds.

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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. 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.

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman teaches his tools for conjuring up original ideas, crafting characters, and bringing new worlds to life.

A downloadable companion full of supplementary information, creative writing exercises, and printable interactive resources accompanies the class.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Neil will also critique select student work.

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Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling