How to Write Fantasy Like Neil Gaiman


Who better to learn from than the very best? Neil Gaiman is a gold mine of information for other aspiring writers. Here is a collection of his best advice and tips.

Neil Gaiman's 8 rules for writing fiction:

  1. Write.
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you somethings wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. 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 its definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

From this article in The Guardian

Be conscious about your writing materials. Neil uses nearly every form of media for his writing for different reasons:

For screenplays, I work directly on screen – novels I write in longhand. For novels, I like the whole first and second draft feeling, and the act of making paper dirty, whereas, for screenplays, I value the immediacy of a computer...I try to change my superstitions with each project. Working in fountain pen is good because it slows me down just enough to keep my handwriting legible. Often I use two pens with different coloured ink, so I can tell visually how much I did each day.

From this interview in TimeOut

On his website,, he has an entire section of his FAQ devoted to advice to writers. In it, he writes a fair amount on how to get a book published. Here are just a few of his pointers from that dialogue:

How does one get published?

How do you do it? You do it.

You write.

You finish what you write.

Meet editors. Even if you haven't met any editors, send your stuff out.

Use The Web. Use it for anything you can - writers groups, feedback, networking, finding out how things work, getting published. It exists: take advantage of it.

Believe in yourself. Keep writing.

For the full, much more helpful version of this FAQ click here. Also in his FAQ he answers the question "How to write comics" and "How to handle revisions of work". Follow the same link for the answers to those questions.

Another helpful gem from the internet is this podcast featuring Neil Gaiman and his thoughts on writing. It's only 4 minutes, so give it a listen! The maker even included nice videos and graphics fro you to look at so it's not just audio:

Lastly, if you're having trouble writing your novel and are ready to give up, here's a peptalk he wrote for the blog National Novel Writing Month. His encouragement is really inspiring and helpful, and ends with the simple words:

One word after another.

That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.

So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Pretty soon you’ll be on the downward slide, and it’s not impossible that soon you’ll be at the end. Good luck…

Read the entire peptalk here on the National Novel Writing Month website.

As Neil would say, never stop writing and good luck!