Friday, October 31, 2014

Neil Gaiman's Story Ideas from Twitter

I was listening to Selected Shorts this week and it was hosted by Neil Gaiman. He read two of his own stories, finishing with “July Tale,” in which a lovesick husband builds an igloo out of books. What was interesting was that Gaiman explained that the inspiration for July Tale came from a recent Twitter campaign where readers could share ideas for stories that he would write. The stories can be downloaded in PDF format at Blackberry.

The Plan
Neil Gaiman  explained "So the plan is: What I'm going to do is create a calendar of tales. Twelve stories. I'm going to write them, but they're going to be absolutely inspired and illustrated by you."

Laura Blackwell described on TechHive how the system went into effect. "Gaiman created A Calendar of Tales as a BlackBerry Keep Moving project, setting himself the task of writing 12 tweet-inspired short stories in 12 hours. On February 4, he asked the first question, "Why is January so dangerous?" on Twitter, and the large number of responses made #JanTale a trending hashtag. An hour later, "What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you in February?" made #FebTale a trending tag too, as writers, artists, and fans rushed to give their 140-character answers in the hope of catching Gaiman's interest."

Blackberry sponsored the campaign and put out this video explaining the approach.

Artists, Animators and Directors
The Guardian explained the next step. "Gaiman then invited photographers, illustrators and visual artists to submit pictures to accompany the tales. He then recorded the stories and asked artists and videographers to create short films using the audio. The culmination of the project is a collection of stories by Gaiman and his fans."
The tales of the year have been re-imagined and can be found on YouTube at

Michelle Chasin wrote on her blog. "January’s tale made for a thrilling start. I expected we’d ease into these stories, but the response about a veteran and a new recruit that answered the prompt “Why is January so dangerous?” led to a piece on soldiers embodying the years themselves—a very nice little twist—fighting off extra-dimensional beings that want to creep into our reality. It’s the sort of visceral action that Neil rarely indulges in, but here he does so while keeping it distinctly his own.

That applies to all of these tales, by the way—they scream “Neil Gaiman” to a one, and this is not at all a bad thing. In fact there’s a lot of variation going on here, but never did it feel like anyone else could have written them."

Full details and a PDF download of the stories are available at the Blackberry.

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