What do you want?

And who are you?

Yesterday the Clarion group sat in a semi-circle around Neil Gaiman and listened to him talk about story. The light was shining so brightly everone was glowing. I have photos, I may share them.

Neil talked about want, specificaly what characters want and using knowledge of that to make a story tick (this became something of a theme for the day). He also talked about caring about characters, and meaning the things you put your characters through. We also got a good picture of the Gaiman working process, which goes a little something like this – find a premise (a journey to hell, for instance), think the premise through until you find an opening, write through the story with everything you’ve got, read back and find out what the story is about, redraft to polish that theme. Easy as!

The wants theme came up again when Scott McCloud, the man behind Understanding Comics and also a specialist narrative theoritician, gave us the inside track on his latest thoughts about story. The McCloud doctrine is all about desire. Every element of story relates back to the fundamental desires of characters. Some _very_ interesting ideas, especialy when Mr McCloud talked about his suspicion of act structure. I really felt I was listening to the cutting edge of thinking about story, and that was fascinating.

Even more fascinating were Scott’s theory of the four tribes of creative type people. This is an addictive version of Myers Briggs for artists. I’ve classified myself as an Animist with edges of the Iconoclast, but two people now have told me they think I’m primarily an Iconoclast. Thats a bit worrying as it feels like marking yourself out as first against the wall when the revolution comes. Or even before the revolution comes.

Week Four Clarion almost done. Two more to go.


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

One thought on “What do you want?


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s