MasterClass for Writing - Should You Try it? [Courses and Reviews]
Are you hoping to write a hit book or screenplay? The writing courses on MasterClass can help. Learn writing techniques online, with self-paced video lessons from famous authors and screenwriters. In this article, I provide reviews of recommended MasterClass courses on book and screenplay writing from various instructors.
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online-education platform that features video courses taught by accomplished people in various fields. Subscribers to MasterClass gain access to all courses on the platform.
One of the areas MasterClass covers is writing. Since I'm a fiction writer, in this article, I focus on classes pertaining to books and scripts, however, MasterClass provides narrative writing courses in poetry and journalism too.
You can view all of the MasterClass writing courses on its website:
Who are MasterClass writing courses for?
MasterClass courses were designed with new writers in mind. You should be able to understand the material even if you haven't tried writing a book or screenplay yet.
Experienced authors or screenwriters may already be familiar with various topics covered, however, can surely pick up new tips.
Certain classes revolve around book writing and others screenwriting. However, most of the underlying concepts the instructors speak about apply to both formats.
Some courses go into detail on specific genres - ex, thrillers - however, most of the underlying concepts apply to various genres across narrative writing.
If you are an author or screenwriter in any genre - or would like to be someday - all of the classes listed in this article should benefit you in some way.
Here's a look at the major topics the courses cover...
MasterClass writing topics
Many lessons are aimed at helping writers create an outline for their story. Example topics:
Lessons also cover the writing stage after an outline is completed and a writer has moved on to creating scenes. Example topics:
Finally, various lessons go over elements of a writing career that aren't directly related to what's written on a page. Example topics:
How much does MasterClass cost?
A MasterClass Individual membership costs $10/month, billed annually. Subscribers receive instant access to all courses on the platform, which they can view on one device (ie, computer, tablet, phone, or TV).
For $15/month, billed annually, you can access all course content on two devices, known as the Duo membership. The Family membership - which costs $20/month billed annually - lets you access content on six devices.
All three plans have a 30-day guarantee. If you aren't certain the platform is a fit for you, I encourage you to sign up and try it.
If you'd rather not remain a member, you can easily cancel your subscription for a full refund.
MasterClass writing courses and reviews
Below are overviews and links to MasterClass writing courses I recommend. I looked into classes in areas related to what I write.
I am sure many other classes on MasterClass are helpful too. Just because a class isn't on this list, does not mean you should skip it. Possibly you write in an area much different than me (ex, children's books) and other classes may be of interest to you.
Once you subscribe to MasterClass, I suggest you browse all the writing classes and take as many as possible with material relevant to you.
My list of recommended classes, with reviews...
James Patterson MasterClass review
James Patterson is the bestselling novelist of thriller series such as Alex Cross and Women's Murder Club. His MasterClass features 22 video lessons, covering topics like:
I recommend this class to anyone interested in writing fast-paced fiction, particularly in the mystery and thriller genres. Though James Patterson is an author, the class would also be helpful for screenwriters.
To take the James Patterson MasterClass, just register on the website and you can start immediately:
David Baldacci MasterClass review
David Baldacci is the bestselling author of various thriller series. In his MasterClass, you can take 18 video lessons on topics like:
I recommend this class to anyone interested in writing page-turning fiction, especially in the mystery and thriller genres. Though David Baldacci is a novelist, the lessons would apply to screenwriters too.
To take the David Baldacci MasterClass, just sign up on the website and you can begin immediately:
Malcolm Gladwell MasterClass review
Malcolm Gladwell is the bestselling author of non-fiction books such as The Tipping Point and Blink. Since Malcolm Gladwell writes in a narrative style, I've included his course on this list, even though his books aren't fiction. He teaches 24 video lessons, on topics like:
I recommend this course to anyone interested in writing narrative non-fiction, or fiction, whether articles, short stories, or books. Screenwriters and documentary filmmakers could benefit from these lessons too.
To take the Malcolm Gladwell MasterClass, just register on the website and you can start right away:
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass review
Aaron Sorkin is the acclaimed writer of The Social Network, The West Wing, and other films and television shows. His class offers 35 video lessons, on topics such as:
I recommend this course to anyone interested in writing screenplays, teleplays, plays, or novels.
To take the Aaron Sorkin MasterClass, just sign up on the MasterClass website and you can start instantly:
Neil Gaiman MasterClass review
Neil Gaiman is a popular writer of short stories, novels, graphic novels, and more. His MasterClass features 19 video lessons, on topics like:
I recommend this course to anyone interested in writing novels, short stories, screenplays, graphic novels, or comic books. Though the class may be particularly helpful to fantasy writers, any fiction writer could benefit from it.
To take the Neil Gaiman MasterClass, just sign up on the website and you can begin immediately:
Dan Brown MasterClass review
Dan Brown is the bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code and other thriller novels. His course offers 19 video lessons, on topics such as:
I recommend this class to anyone interested in writing mysteries and thrillers, whether in novel or screenplay form. The class could also be helpful to writers in other genres who are hoping to incorporate suspense into their stories.
To take the Dan Brown MasterClass, just register on the website and you can start instantly:
David Mamet MasterClass review
David Mamet is the acclaimed writer of plays, such as Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, screenplays, and more. His class features 26 video lessons, on topics like:
I recommend this class to anyone interested in writing screenplays, plays, or novels.
To take the David Mamet MasterClass, just sign up on the MasterClass website and you can begin immediately:
More recommended MasterClass courses for writers
The MasterClass courses listed above are designed for writers. Some other courses are designed for directors, however, address storytelling concepts a writer could find helpful. Below, I've provided a brief bio of these instructors and links to learn more about their classes:
David Lynch is the acclaimed screenwriter and director of the films Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and more. To learn more about the David Lynch MasterClass, visit the course page.
Martin Scorsese is the Oscar-winning director of Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street, and other films. To learn more about the Martin Scorsese MasterClass, visit the course page.
Judd Apatow is the popular screenwriter and director of the films Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and more. To learn more about the Judd Apatow MasterClass, visit the course page.
Ron Howard is the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind, Backdraft, and other movies. To learn more about the Ron Howard MasterClass, visit the course page.
James Cameron is the Oscar-winning screenwriter and director of The Terminator, Aliens, and other films. To learn more about the James Cameron MasterClass, visit the course page.
Try MasterClass free
Do any of the MasterClass courses mentioned in this article seem like they could help you? If so, I suggest you sign up for MasterClass and start watching the lessons. You have a 30-day money-back guarantee. If the platform isn't right for you, easily cancel without losing a dime.
To begin your MasterClass free trial, just visit the website and select "Sign Up":
To learn more about MasterClass, check out my post on how it compares to Skillshare.
This post contains affiliate links.
Use These 10 Literary Devices to Tell an Awesome Story
If you're writing a book, screenplay, or short story, you want to captivate your audience with your characters and settings, build suspense, and deliver strong emotional payoffs. Literary devices are tools that can help. Though plenty of literary devices exist, these 10 are particularly useful in fiction and narrative non-fiction. Check out these examples and tips for using them to tell an awesome story.
What is a literary device?
A literary device is a technique writers can use to make stories more engaging. These tactics can create suspense, evoke emotion, set up a plot twist, and more. Alliteration, symbolism, and foreshadowing are examples of literary devices.
10 literary devices for your story
Below are definitions of 10 powerful literary devices for your book, screenplay, or short story. Click the "Learn More" links to see examples of each literary device and tips for applying it to your story.
#1 - Symbolism
Symbolism is when an element of your story - like a character, setting, or object - represents an idea. The represented idea tends to play a significant role in the story's character development, plot, or theme. For instance, in a prison story, grass might be a symbol for freedom.
#2 - Tone
Tone is the attitude a writer takes toward the events in a story. Though characters may have distinct attitudes, the literary device tone just refers to the attitude of the writer. Some examples of tone are optimistic, comedic, and regretful.
#3 - Mood
Mood is the overall feeling of a scene. Chaotic, warm, and sad are examples of moods. One story can have many moods, since different scenes can create different emotional responses from an audience.
#4 - Imagery
Imagery is a literary device writers use to connect with any of the audience's five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Imagery is often used in the descriptions of characters, settings, and plot events.
#5 - Metaphor
A metaphor falsely asserts that one thing is another while creating a true, symbolic comparison. "The office is an igloo" is an example of a metaphor.
#6 - Personification
Personification is the granting of human qualities to non-human elements in a story, like vehicles, houses, and even concepts, such as hope or doubt.
#7 - Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing is a literary device writers use to allude to future events in a story. Two kinds exist: (1) Direct foreshadowing states a story event is to come (2) Indirect foreshadowing gives evidence of an event the audience does not anticipate.
#8 - Dramatic irony
Dramatic irony is a literary device in which a writer gives information to the audience that a character, or multiple characters, is unaware of. The tactic can build suspense.
#9 - Motif
A motif is a repeating element in a story that plays a strong role in the story's theme. Motifs can be abstract ideas, like triumph or deceit. They can also be parts of your story's physical world, such as buildings, objects, colors, and noises.
#10 - Alliteration
Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound at the start of two or more close-together words, as in "warm weather," with "w" the repeating sound.
Why use literary devices?
Here are just some storytelling components literary devices can help you with:
What genres use literary devices?
Literary devices are used across fiction and narrative non-fiction. Some examples of genres that use literary devices:
How to use literary devices
Literary devices should serve the story you're telling. Once you have an idea of your characters and your plot, and you begin writing your first draft, you'll need to accomplish various tasks to make any scene work.
For instance, let's say your main character in a thriller is running from three gunmen in a scene. For this scene to work, a task of yours could be making the audience fear for your protagonist's life. A combination of literary devices can be applied to accomplish that task.
You can use dramatic irony to make your protagonist unaware of the danger lurking around the corner. Once the protagonist sees the gunmen, you can leverage mood to create a feeling of desperation. You can also apply imagery to show the physical effects of panic, like sweat and an accelerating heartbeat.
Think of literary devices like specialized tools. Let your story tasks dictate when and how you apply these tools.
What to avoid when using literary devices
As stated, the writing tasks you need to accomplish to make a scene work should determine what literary devices you use - avoid the opposite approach, ie, deciding you want to use a certain literary device and then bending the purpose of a scene just so the device can fit.
You also want to avoid literary devices drawing attention to themselves. They should help your scenes flow, not cause the audience to focus on the device.
Certain devices, like alliteration, can draw attention to themselves if used too often. Other devices, like tone, can draw attention to themselves if shifted through a story.
Once you gain a deeper understanding of the 10 literary devices outlined above (with the "Learn More" links), you should have a good idea of how to apply them to your story in a natural way.
Want more writing tips?
Check out my free online writing class.
Captivate Your Readers With Imagery: Definition, Examples, and Tips
If you're writing a book, screenplay, or short story, you want to draw your readers deep into the world of your story. Imagery is a powerful literary device you can use to give your readers a vivid experience of your scenes. In this article, I provide the definition of imagery, examples, and tips for applying it in your story.
What is imagery in writing?
Imagery is a literary device in which writers engage readers via language that evokes any of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Imagery is often applied to the descriptions of characters, settings, and plot events.
Why is imagery important?
Imagery is a literary device that creates a sensory connection between the reader and the physical world of the story. Scenes become more immersive because of this connection. After a reader finishes a scene, an effective use of imagery can make him say, "I felt like I was there."
The writing technique can also build empathy with characters, a key part of storytelling. If a reader is able to sense what a character is experiencing, the reader can better empathize with that character.
Below are two examples of a plot event, the first described without an emphasis on imagery, and the second with an emphasis on it. Which do you feel is stronger?
Becca walks through the woods to meet her friends at the campsite. She believes a killer is following her, so she takes off running. She runs for about a mile, reaches a street in a small town, and hides out in a diner.
Becca walks through a dark forest toward the campsite. Footsteps thud behind her. She looks over her shoulder, but sees nothing but the gnarled barks of trees. She heard a rumor about some weirdo who lives out here, but figured it was just an urban legend.
She keeps walking, the November air cold on her neck. The footsteps behind her return. She takes off running through the close-together trees. Her heart pounds. The branch of a pine tree hits her in the face. She spits a few pine needles out of her mouth.
Up ahead, the lights of a small town glisten beyond the evergreens. She dashes onto the street and rushes into the first building she sees, a diner. The place smells like apple pie. However, Becca is too nervous to eat. Shaking and huffing, she sinks onto a stool at the counter.
The 5 types of imagery in writing