Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Neil Gaiman on serialized storytelling

sandman overture1“I started to feel an enormous amount of sympathy and empathy for Charles Dickens, because he was doing the same thing – a serialized story. And I started reading Dickens in a very, very different way. While writing The Sandman I’d go, ‘Ah, this is part of the big plot that you absolutely know what you’re doing, and this bit is you going, “I’m not quite sure what I’m doing here, so I’m gonna busk a little bit. And this is you just bringing on a character and just going I know I’ll find a use for you somewhere down the line.”‘ These days, probably the nearest thing to it outside of comics would be serial television, if you had just had one writer. […] But the one thing that TV has is the same thing wonderful thing that Dickens had, and same thing that I had – to be able to take stock of what you’re doing and what’s working as you go, to the point where you bring on somebody who was a little better than an extra and you go, ‘Actually, everybody really likes that guy and we like that guy! Let’s bring him back and have him do something else.’ And by season two he’s one of the stars and nobody actually remembers that he wasn’t even in the original outline. There were definitely things when I was writing Sandman that were like that. And in a peculiar way, there are moments when I’m writing Overture where I get to do little things that set up for later things that I wasn’t expecting.”

Neil Gaiman, reflecting on writing The Sandman on a monthly basis, in an interview with RollingStone.com

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Or, like other writers, he could outline everything from the beginning so it all ties together by the end…? I don’t get the vociferous love for Gaiman. It’s not like he’s produced anything of particular note since the publication of American Gods (which I thought was okay, but not worthy of its celebrated status). Really, Gaiman has always left me cold. But Williams on the other hand. I’ve been a fan since Chase (and once had a lovely conversation with him about panel borders in Promethea)

I think his point is that monthly comics are not monolithic like novels, and don’t need to be finished before you begin publication. Sure you have your outline for your opening arc or maybe even your first year or two of stories, but you really don’t know if you will still be writing the same title in five or six years so you do not have the security to have a “story bible” to stick to rigidly. Instead you lay down small elements or details that give you the opportunity to elaborate at a later date.

When Lee and Kirby were doing Fantastic Four #1 you can almost guarantee they had no plan for the story for issue #10 let alone #40 or #100. To criticize Gaiman for not having everything planned out on Day 1 is moronic, and shows a lack of understanding of serialised media.

yeah, i’m not a particular fan of gaiman one way or another… but assuming there’s only one way to write, and that writing in a different way is inferior? i’m sorry to be harsh, but that’s just embarrassing. like, “reconsider the edit function” embarrassing.

there are countless types of stories, and countless types of creators. why wouldn’t someone, especially someone who has written tons of work over the years, try different approaches to storytelling?

i get that you dislike gaiman, and like i said i couldn’t care one way or another, but that was a really stupid attack to make.

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