The best writing advice I’ve ever heard came from Stephen King: Write every day. Read every day.
I have been a failure at following that advice, but it still rings true. I do try to write or read every day in one way or another. So that’s something.
When I read, I read for enjoyment. I read for characters I like facing situations that test them. I read to be entertained, or moved, or surprised.
As a writer, everything I read goes into my head like used clothing into a thrift store. I mix and match outfits from hundreds of stories I’ve read, stir in my life experience, then try to put it together into an outfit that looks original.
But it’s not. Very little (besides maybe Charlie Kaufman) is truly original.
I had the idea to revisit Neil Gaiman’s Sandman recently. To reread it in its entirety, this time with an eye for what I could constructively pull out of it to help me improve my craft. Intuitively, the series is in my brain. But I wondered what I could learn if I took a systematic approach. I even wondered if I COULD create a systematic approach? At the very least, I would read it with a goal in mind.
The more I thought of it, this project seemed like something that might be valuable for you to read, too. Not to mention more fun for me if I shared what I found. Two birds, baby!
There will be Spoilers. This is a reread. I will run across seeds being planted early that do not bear fruit for dozens of issues. And I will be pointing them out immediately.
So I do not recommend reading these essays until you’ve completed reading the series yourself. Gaiman’s story is constructed extremely well and many things that seem inconsequential end up being incredibly important by the end.
If I’m going to mention them, I have to mention them when they first pop up, because that is where we can learn from Gaiman. In the planting of the seed.
Don’t expect heavy criticism. Sandman is part of my Mount Rushmore of comic series (along with Bone and Locke&Key – still waiting on a fourth). If you’re looking for someone to tell you where Gaiman messed up, I’m probably not your guy. I won’t pretend to like things I don’t, just don’t expect me to find much to criticize.
Enjoy myself. This is one of my favorite series of all time. Throwing myself back into it is like Br’er Rabbit throwing himself into the brier patch.
Find actionable tips on the page in order to improve my writing. Share those tips with you in the hopes the resonate with you as well.
Post at least once a week. I’d love to do more, and might, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure.
I really hope this is worthwhile for you and me. If you want to read with me that would be great. If you want to send in a guest blog, that would be super-great! Let’s have some fun!
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