Neil Gaiman and Caring About Characters

Interesting article by Neil Gaiman about writing about characters. Its one of those things that make perfect sense once you read it.

When I was a young writer I would come up with stories, and then put characters into them. And the character would often feel like, in Thurber’s words, “a mere device”.

I think the breakthrough for me came when I started writing comics — because I believed in them. Because sometimes I would be using characters I hadn’t created, but simply cared about. And over the next few years I learned that if you cared enough about a character, what happened to them was interesting.

I’m not sure that’s much of an aphorism, but it’s important to care about them, about who they are and what they do. And (for me) for them to be people I would want to spend time with — I don’t really care who’s side they are on, and they can be monstrous on the outside or, worse, on the inside, but you have to want to spend time with them. If you met one of these characters socially would you talk to them, or make an excuse and flee?

(As a sidenote, I think the years I spent as a journalist doing interviews for magazines really helped as well. I learned a lot about speech patterns, and ways of describing people, and letting their words describe them. But more importantly, I learned that if you are actually interested, and not faking it, people will tell you anything, and you will take pleasure in their company. So talk to people, especially people you would normally avoid talking to. Find out their stories. Figure out how you would put them into stories, if you would, or just describe them with a few words.)
Neil Gaiman

One thought on “Neil Gaiman and Caring About Characters

  1. Hey Erik, and thanks for your comments on our blog. Just to clarify:

    Every RT = 1
    Every Friend Referral = 5 (they have to contact us themselves and mention you)
    One comment on the blog per contest = 1 for this week, 1 for last.

    So you have quite a few entries at this point! If you’ve referred friends just make sure they drop me a line either on the blog or twitter. Good Luck:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s