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The Collective Works of Neil Gaiman

Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:32 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
Just offhand, this comes to mind from Stardust:

"And how much does this cost?"
"Oh that? That'll cost you the color of your hair, or a memory of when you were 3"

While i think Neil Gaimen is far from the best writer, he has an unbelievable talent for metaphor, imagery, and the surreal. I soak up his non sequiter-isms, and despite feeling that he sometimes substitutes them for content (reading gaimen is alot like eating a snickers bar, theres alot of stuff there to be sure, but you also end up with a bit of empty calories... they taste good tho!), i still applaud his style. Thoughts?

PS. Favorite Gaimen moment: When the man who remembers the smell of Wooly Mammoths and the receeding of glaciers is walking down the streets of new york and a building collapses on him and he looks up and screams "NOT YET!"

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:54 pm UTC
by tiny
I only read Stardust and some of his short stories. My opinion is mainly the same as yours. Tasty in low doses, but not very nutricious.
On the other hand this makes his style easy to reproduce, as well es his way of developing a storyline. Just collect some random settings, events and characters, connect them via chance and lucky coincidences, mix in some nice metaphors and fairytale-ish stuff, a bit of black humour, and you're done.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:07 pm UTC
by Jessica
tiny wrote:I only read Stardust and some of his short stories. My opinion is mainly the same as yours. Tasty in low doses, but not very nutricious.
On the other hand this makes his style easy to reproduce, as well es his way of developing a storyline. Just collect some random settings, events and characters, connect them via chance and lucky coincidences, mix in some nice metaphors and fairytale-ish stuff, a bit of black humour, and you're done.


I would suggest some of his longer stuff. Sandman, Anansi boys, american gods, neverwhere. Stardust is great, but it is, in the end, a children's book. Also, in general short stuff doesn't give you as much time for substance.

My love of gaiman truely took off when I read Anansi Boys, then american gods. Sandman was brilliant.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:35 am UTC
by JayDee
American Gods used to be my favourite book, until I read Anansi Boys.
tiny wrote:... his way of developing a storyline. Just collect some random settings, events and characters, connect them via chance and lucky coincidences, mix in some nice metaphors and fairytale-ish stuff, a bit of black humour, and you're done.

That describes American Gods very well, which is rather long and meandering. Anansi Boys struck me as a lot more structured, in fact the first time I read it that was what impressed me most. Um, well a lot at least.

While it may be (or seem to be) a style that is easy to reproduce, I can't say I've seen it done as well as he does by many.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:42 am UTC
by Malice
Neil Gaiman is an excellent storyteller. His stories aren't very original, but that's not the point. He is a fairly awful writer, most of the time. His best stuff is Sandman, where somebody else provides the illustrations and he simply provides the story. His worst stuff is probably his poetry. Oddly enough, the best thing of his I've read (outside of Sandman) was a short story about Los Angeles which was very well-written and touching and not fantasy at all.

I imagine that once he figures out how to write a movie, they'll be pretty damn good. So far it hasn't really worked for him, although I'm not sure why.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:52 am UTC
by rxninja
If you idolize someone, it's usually a good idea to at least know how to spell their name, especially if you claim to have enjoyed one or more of the books that they have written.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:01 am UTC
by Jesse
Malice is correct, Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller, and what makes it better is that he knows it. I think he's a fantastic 'author' as well in that he does carry his persona with him, and he will happily lie to make a story better. (Like when writing about Feeder, giving the story about his wife having that nightmare. Most likely not true in the least, but it makes the story that much more exciting).

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:18 am UTC
by tiny
I forgot to mention 'Coraline'. I didn't read it, but the audio book kept me entertained during a long train ride, read by the man himself.
I like Coraline more than Stardust, although he could have spent more time developing the characters. Coraline's relationship with her parents, her own personality, it all stays superficial and the potential untouched.
The Other Mother is genius, though, her world... Yet the other people in the house, the rats, it's all just... bits of ideas, nothing elaborate. At least that's how it feels to me.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:21 am UTC
by Jesse
Coraline was written in parts though, wans't it? Over a period of something like eight years, so it's bound to all feel a bit fragmented and disjointed.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:16 pm UTC
by spi
I like Gaiman. American Gods is what really made me look into his work. I only read Sandman about a year or so ago and really liked it. Now I am going to reread it via the Absolute Sandman series. At times his writing might be somewhat predictable but I don't find it any worse then other authors I like.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:32 am UTC
by tiny
Jesster wrote:Coraline was written in parts though, wans't it? Over a period of something like eight years, so it's bound to all feel a bit fragmented and disjointed.
It's possible that it was written that way.
I don't agree though, that a story produced in this manner has to have a fragmented feel to it. I'd rather expect a deep plot, well thought out characters and so on.
My personal experience is that the more time you give a story to grow, the more detailed it gets. You just have to be disciplined enough to work through everything that you've already written, once you start over, in order to get back into the characters, style, and feel of the story, read all your notes etc. It kills a lot of time, but I think it's worth it.
But perhaps Mr. Gaiman's focus lies more on the concept and atmosphere of a story, and not so much on plot and details. There are as many approaches to writing as there are authors.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 4:49 am UTC
by photosinensis
I take some offense to "not nutritious". I mean, Sandman is totally awesome (in fact, was the first exposure I'd ever had to comic books and graphic novels in their native format), and believe me when I say there's quite a bit of depth in American Gods that kept me thinking for weeks.

That said, I think I'll return to Good Omens.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:14 am UTC
by bananarchy
I may have to pick up some of his stuff, it sounds good. Oftentimes I get more giggles and grins out of creative and masterful word choice than I do out of the story that's being told. My current favorites are Neal Stephenson and William Gibson.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:34 am UTC
by Jesse
Neil Gaiman has substance if you have a certain mindset, often if you're the kind of person who can really believe in stories. If you have a hope in your heart that the weird old guy on the bus could really be a norse god; if you look up at the stars and wonder if maybe one of them might fall at your feet, if you're the kind of person who can put aside your rational mind for hours at a time and know that every word is true. Then you'll be a Gaiman fan.

(I realize that won't make any damn sense to anyone who isn't one of us crazies).

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:33 am UTC
by Zohar
Jesster wrote: if you're the kind of person who can put aside your rational mind for hours at a time and know that every word is true. Then you'll be a Gaiman fan.


QFT. I don't believe any of the stories. Science works, there are no gods, no walking stars, no secrets in the London subway system. However, while I'm reading Gaiman, I get lost in his words and in his thoughts. And it doesn't matter if it's all unreal, it's real at the time. I wrote a letter to him when he was here at a convention last year (he didn't reply, but that's not surprising), I'll dig it up and post it here (or parts of it).

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:22 pm UTC
by trickster721
His novels have some weird pacing. The last third of American Gods is a brick wall. I probably like Neverwhere the best, but Stardust is also pretty awesome.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:00 am UTC
by JayDee
Yeah, American Gods has very odd pacing. It was something I enjoyed about the book though, it was kinda rambling an unfocused.

I found Anansi Boys to be the opposite, I had a sense while reading it that it was moving along at a very deliberate pace to a very specific destination.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:01 am UTC
by rxninja
Jesster wrote:(I realize that won't make any damn sense to anyone who isn't one of us crazies).


To those of us that are, though, it's the complete truth. Suspend your disbelief or Neil Gaiman won't make any sense..

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:47 am UTC
by Malice
Oh, for fuck's sake. You'd think he invented fantasy.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:54 am UTC
by trickster721
Malice wrote:Oh, for fuck's sake. You'd think he invented fantasy.

He's just now breaking into the mainsteam after being quietly influential for a long time, so for a while people are going to be falling all over themselves to love him the most. It's as if Tim Burton took a ten year hiatus after making Edward Scissorhands.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:11 am UTC
by Malice
Pah, don't get me started on Burton...

(ducks the flames)

But yes, I see what you're saying. Might explain things.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:24 am UTC
by tiny
rxninja wrote:
Jesster wrote:(I realize that won't make any damn sense to anyone who isn't one of us crazies).
To those of us that are, though, it's the complete truth. Suspend your disbelief or Neil Gaiman won't make any sense..
Interesting perspective.
I don't believe in stories in a way that I 'see' or 'feel' them kind of happening in the very same reality like my own life. It's more like they are a glimpse into an alternate dimension, a parallel universe, or something. Thus every good story makes perfect sense to me, contained in it's own set of rules of logic that may or may not correspond with the rules my world works by.
To seem 'good' to me, they need to have a certain degree of consistency, a feel of being self contained and... round. No faults, no holes, no loose threads, no breaches in the atmosphere or general tone, no acting out of character, no deus ex machina, no ignored problems, no cliches.
Gaiman manages to create good - and thereby real - stories in that sense (or he at least managed to do so with the few texts I read by him).

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:32 pm UTC
by Girlâ„¢
I like to think of Gaiman as the kind of writer who creates smirking parodies of everyday life, soaked in winking pop culture references. As long as you replace "pop culture" with ancient myth, and "everyday life" with the unconscious. His stories become both more fascinating and less original when you've read a bit of comparative mythology.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:15 pm UTC
by Jesse
Malice wrote:Oh, for fuck's sake. You'd think he invented fantasy.


Part of what I love about him is the respect he has for people like Moorcock and Dunsany. Yeah, there are plenty of fanboys around, and they can be pretty damn annoying. But I'm certainly allowed to adore his writing, and defend him when people slate him.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:46 pm UTC
by Bakemaster
Jesster wrote:Part of what I love about him is the respect he has for people like Moorcock...

A man for whom it can be difficult to have respect, at first glance.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:52 pm UTC
by d33p
Neil Gaiman is the Andy Warhol of fantasy fiction.
And "Neverwhere" is his Marilyn Monroe series.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:41 pm UTC
by Jesse
Bakemaster wrote:
Jesster wrote:Part of what I love about him is the respect he has for people like Moorcock...

A man for whom it can be difficult to have respect, at first glance.



But... Moorcock. He represents my childhood. I have the Tales of the Eternal Champion volumes still laying around in my attic. I attribute my love of fantasy to that man.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:08 am UTC
by rxninja
Jesster wrote:But... Moorcock. He represents my childhood.


I surely hope something besides his name represents your childhood, my friend.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:30 pm UTC
by Bakemaster
Yeah, I was just taking the cheap shot.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:32 pm UTC
by Belial
It was best when he attended a convention in Manasses Virginia.

"Moorcock in Manasses! Moorcock in Manasses!"

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:56 pm UTC
by Bakemaster
Or Athol, Massachusetts.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:22 pm UTC
by Girlâ„¢
Belial wrote:It was best when he attended a convention in Manasses Virginia.

"Moorcock in Manasses! Moorcock in Manasses!"


it's Mannassas. Which is, admittedly, much less funny to read.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:20 pm UTC
by Belial
Really? I forgot that was an A.

Still pronounced the same, though

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:13 pm UTC
by Masuri
Malice wrote:Oh, for fuck's sake. You'd think he invented fantasy.


I am glad to see I am not the only one who feels this way.

However, I seem to be the only one who dislikes his tone as a writer. Everything I read by him comes off sounding like he is trying to be oh-so-clever. It strikes me as though he really thinks about his word choice and sentence structure and cultivates an air of... something that comes off sounding pretentious and detracts from my enjoyment of the story.

I have never gotten lost in anything he's written because I feel like the tone of the narrative jars me into noticing the words and sentences, not the characters and storyline. I am very conscious that I am sitting there reading a book. I feel removed from the action, artificially distanced from the emotional impact that the story should have.

If that makes any sense. ><

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:16 pm UTC
by Belial
Out of curiousity, Masuri, which books of his have you read?

I know one book that stands out particularly as having the quality you describe, but I'm curious to see if I'm right...

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:26 pm UTC
by Masuri
Let's see. I have read American Gods, Stardust, Smoke and Mirrors, and Neverwhere.

The point at which I actually realized that I just simply do not like his writing is when I read a short story of his in an anthology of wizard stories. His story was first and it was an interesting, charming little story - and the tone just ruined it for me. I would have liked to have felt personally affected by it and in the hands of another author, I probably would have. But everything is shades of grey from Gaiman.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:30 pm UTC
by Belial
Ahh. Heh, I was thinking of Stardust. Otherwise, I just don't see it.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:42 am UTC
by Gaz
I've only read an American Gods short story and Good Omens, but I wouldn't mind reading more. It has a similiar feel (to me anyway) as Dean Koontz.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:57 am UTC
by trickster721
Masuri wrote:It strikes me as though he really thinks about his word choice and sentence structure and cultivates an air of...

...Literature?

He's also English, you know, he's not just spelling things wrong to show off. But yes, he can come ungrounded sometimes, especially in his short stories. A lot of great writers tend to get distracted and romp around in themes and adjectives like they were a ball pit.

You should check out Sandman, if you haven't. I think it helps to read that first.

Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:51 am UTC
by Malice
trickster721 wrote:You should check out Sandman, if you haven't. I think it helps to read only that.


Fixed.