Tuesday, June 15, 2004

write stuff

You know, a writer's morale is mostly to do with whether the book is working or not. Last week I was pretty miserable, mostly because it felt like Anansi Boys had sort of ground to a terrible halt. Today I rather blindly started chapter 8, and, bizarrely, everything was okay. It now feels like the book knows what it's doing even if I don't, and I'm much happier. I'm about 45,000 words in, I'd say, and I'm still writing in longhand, but am getting very close to the point where I'm going to start typing. Which will be a sort of second draft on the first half of the book, while I'm still chugging along in first draft on the second half. I expect.

A writing question, and I've seen you answer a few of them before.

I was wondering about telling a story from the first person, and the point of view dying character at the end. My ideas for this are starting to come together, but this bit seems a bit weird. Usually, a story from the first person has a reason for the main character to be telling the story (ie, Robin Hobb's Assassin books open with Fitz as an old man writing histories).

I'm also considering more of a transcendence than death for the main character, but that doesn't really give a reason for how the story would be spread to the world.

Do you think I need to construct some sort of reason? Or can I just tell the story the way I feel I should, and logic be damned?



I don't think it's a matter of logic. There's nothing at all wrong with first person narratives where the person telling it dies at the end. (I've written one of them, and read many more.) Tell the story the way it needs to be told, and enjoy telling it.

The main rule of writing is that, if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.)

I've been rereading some P.G. Wodehouse recently, and am fascinated by what he does with point of view. The point of view he writes from (if he's not telling a first person account) is The Author's, which allows him enormous freedom to zoom in and out of people's heads whenever he wants to, in a way that is, I suspect, completely forbidden by the writers' guides.

(Back when I was writing Sandman monthly I came up with a definition of story that satisfied me. A story, I decided, is anything that keeps the people reading turning the pages, and doesn't leave them feeling cheated at the end. Everything else was up for grabs.)

Hello Neil,

I just got done listening to Coraline on cd and enjoyed it very much. (I'd read the book last year but had to briefly give up on my struggle with the library to discover where they'd hidden the audio book while I went back to school.) In particular, the cat was just so much more *so*, and the bit with the Other Father in the basement was vastly more creepy than I'd remembered it. Have you thought about recording any more of your books? I suppose, considering that Coraline took up three cds and wasn't a very long book to begin with, that an unabriged version of, say, American Gods would be a significant project. (I checked some of the archives to see if you'd mentioned this before, but I'm almost certain I've managed to completely miss a handy search feature that would make the process simpler.) You have a wonderful speaking voice, and those of us trapped in North Dakota (*neighborly next-state-over wave*) don't have much of a chance to go to a reading when you're out on tour.


I decided not to do American Gods because I sound more or less English, and I wanted it to be read by someone who sounded American. So there is an excellent American Gods unabridged audio, which you can buy on cassette, or get through your library (or rent -- I just googled and found it rentable at It's read by George Guidall. Some libraries have it on CD, although it's never been commercially released on CD. And while it was out and downloadable through and itunes for a short time, it seems to have vanished now.

There are short stories read by me on CD. WARNING:CONTAINS LANGUAGE is a double CD with anumber of tracks on, including Chivalry, Babycakes, Nicholas Was..., Cold Colours, Troll Bridge, The White Road, and Banshee.

TELLING TALES is a single CD with A Writer's Prayer, Harlequin Valentine, Boys and Girls Together, The Wedding Present, and In The End. They're both from DreamHaven.

The NEIL GAIMAN AUDIO COLLECTION is the new CD coming from Harper Collins -- it contains The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, Cinnamon and Crazy Hair. And my daughter Maddy is going to interview me for it as well, which should be fun. (The reading of TDISMDF2G will also come with the new Harpers edition of Goldfish.)

Here's the cover of the Audio Collection:

There's also a CD (which doesn't have a title yet) coming out from DreamHaven later in the year, with The Price, Daughter of Owls, Shoggoth's Old Peculiar and the Facts in the Case of the Disapperance of Miss Finch on it.

I'd love to read an audio of Stardust, and an unabridged audio of Neverwhere (I hate the fact that the current audio of Neverwhere, although really well read by Gary Bakewell, with Eno music, is extremely abridged -- less than a third the length of the book.) I don't know that I'll be able to persuade Harpers to do them, though -- their attitude is that it's much easier to sell audio books when there's a new book coming out. They may well be right.


I put up a few links on Where's Neil to the Mocca Harvey Awards (I'm the keynote speaker) and Mythcon (I'm G of H), and will write something more about the Harveys and Mocca next post...

And so to bed. G'night.