Neil Gaiman: “People are drawn to stories in which characters break through to another reality.”

Neil Gaiman on breakthroughs in the Wall Street Journal Magazine:

“There’s an old woodcut drawing I saw as a teenager, I think in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, that really affected me, of somebody pushing through the walls of the world and seeing the gears behind. That’s the heart of any breakthrough, that point where you are looking at an existing world, and you push a bit harder and you lean and you crawl and you realize your world is not quite your world.

People are drawn to stories in which characters do break through to another reality, because it is a universal experience to look at the world and go, Is this all there is? Or even if this is all there is, do I actually understand it? Are there clues and keys that would give me a new understanding? The glory of fiction is that I am lying to you. It’s the same deal a good stage magician makes: You are going to be lied to.”

—Gaiman is a writer. The Neil Gaiman Reader: Selected Fiction was published in October.

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