David Baldacci Masterclass Review: Can He Teach You Mystery And Thriller Writing?

Do you want to improve your storytelling skills? This David Baldacci Masterclass review explains what you’ll learn and if it’s worth it.

I've always been a big fan of David Baldacci. His thrillers take suspense to a different level, and you can't help but keep turning the page. When Masterclass.com came out with the David Baldacci Masterclass, I was excited. It's like learning from your hero.

Many authors struggle with building suspense and anticipation in their novels. It's a difficult skill to master, and authors who've been writing for years still can't perfect it.

However, Baldacci is an expert at creating suspense. His novels all have plot twists you’ll never see coming.

So if you want to take your readers on a rollercoaster ride when they read your work, then this Masterclass is for you. David Baldacci teaches mystery and thriller writing so after taking these video lessons, you’ll know how to hook readers for over 300 pages.

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Who Is David Baldacci And Why Should You Take His Masterclass?

David Baldacci Masterclass Review

David Baldacci is an American attorney and bestselling novelist. He mainly writes thrillers for young audiences that are inspired by real-life events. This makes it almost impossible to put down his book after reading a few pages.

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Baldacci loved writing stories as a child. He went to Henrico High School, and after graduating, dabbled in screenwriting, but decided to study law.

While practicing law, he went back to his childhood hobby, which was writing. He started writing the book Absolute Power and, after 3 years of writing, published it in 1996. It was an instant New York Times bestseller. 

It was so good that it was adapted into a movie in 1997 starring Clint Eastwood.

Bladacci and his wife also founded the Wish You Well Foundation, which battles illiteracy.

“Why can't people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?”

David Baldacci

He has created several bestselling series. Some include:

  • Will Robie Series
  • Sean King & Michelle Maxwell Series
  • The Camel Club Series

Some famous work of his that you might recognize include:

  • Memory Man
  • The Camel Club
  • Daylight

In 2017, Baldacci won the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award. With all this knowledge and achievements, it’s worth learning from him since it’ll make you a better writer.

Who Is This Masterclass For?

David Baldacci's Masterclass
This Masterclass shows you how to create compelling characters, plots and build suspense

This Masterclass is perfect for anyone who's looking to improve their storytelling skills. It shows you how to create compelling characters, plots and build suspense.

Authors Who Love Thrillers

Even if you're an expert writer, you'll walk away with golden nuggets of information you can implement when writing novels, screenplays, or even blogs. Who knows, maybe after taking this Masterclass, you'll fall in love with writing thrillers and suspense novels.

He goes through everything you need to know about creating suspense and tension. This is valuable since you want readers to keep turning the page.

Short Story Writers

Baldacci started out only writing short stories, so you bet he's an expert at it. His writing and teaching style is fast-paced, which makes it great for telling short stories.

He teaches how to capture your reader’s attention without using much words. This is critical when writing short stories.

Fans Of His Work

If you’re a fan of Baldacci, then you must take this Masterclass. He gives you insight on his creative process and how he creates bestselling books.

After taking this Masterclass, you’ll have the knowledge to emulate his creative process and write better books.

What Is David Baldacci’s Masterclass Like?

David Baldacci's Masterclass consists of 18 writing classes that are 3 hours and 46 minutes long. It also has 3 downloadable PDF files attached. 

The first one is a 97-page class workbook that allows you to follow along with the video lessons. This workbook contains everything that he talks about. He also gives exercises that improve your writing skills.

The second PDF is an outline of The Fix, and the third is an outline of The Innocent.

His video lessons include:

  1. Introduction: 03:52
  2. Finding the idea: 12:49
  3. Research methods and sources, Part 1: 14:20
  4. Research methods and sources, Part 2: 08:52
  5. Outlining: 16:33
  6. Constructing chapters: 14:00
  7. Pacing, tension, and suspense: 18:51
  8. Creating compelling characters: 15:41
  9. Crafting dialogue:15:28
  10. Writing action: 11:36
  11. Writing process: 11:29
  12. Editing and revising: 11:13
  13. Working with an editor: 10:10
  14. Navigating the publishing business, Part 1: 16:45
  15. Navigating the publishing business, Part 2: 13:31
  16. Writing a series: 11:49
  17. Life as a writer: 16:23
  18. Follow the words: 02:51
David Baldacci's Masterclass
David Baldacci's Masterclass consists of 18 writing classes that are 3 hours and 46 minutes long

How Much Does His Masterclass Cost?

To get access to this Masterclass, you'll need to buy an annual membership from Masterclass for $180. The all-access pass allows you to learn from other world-renowned authors like:

This pricing method is cheaper than buying each writing Masterclass separately. But writing isn't the only skill you can learn in Masterclass. It gives you access to online learning classes like cooking, filmmaking, and advertising video lessons.

This makes Masterclass.com an invaluable learning experience since there's no place on the internet that allows you to learn skills from these famous experts.

What I've Learnt From David Baldacci's Masterclass

David Baldacci has a unique writing style. He blends political and real-life world events with his own imagination. Combine that with a thrilling writing style, and you've got a book that's sure to be a bestseller.

In these writing courses, he goes over his writing process, how to create suspense, and screenwriting.

Look At The World Through A Writer's Prism

People always ask him where he gets all his unique ideas from. In these Masterclass courses, he reveals a technique that he likes to call “The Writer's Prism.”

Look At The World Through A Writer's Prism
With a little imagination, you can create a novel out of a boring situation

He gets all his ideas from daily life and uses this prism to add some spice to it and turn it into a story. All the ideas are out there, you just need to look at the world through the correct lens.

Most people will look at something and forget about it in a few minutes. But as a writer, you should pay attention and absorb all this information. With a little imagination, you can create a novel out of a boring situation.

That's the key. Your imagination should be working overtime, so when you're running errands or taking a walk, you can use boring details to create bestselling stories.

For example, one day, Baldacci went to church with his family. At the time, he had personal issues since his dad just passed away, and his mom was terminally ill. He became emotional and started thinking about his death and the ones he loved.

This became the plot for a book titled One Summer. It's a novel about family drama. A husband is terminally ill, and he's thinking about how his wife will look after the 3 kids when he's gone. But it has a plot twist since the wife ends up dying, and he survives.

Another example he used is when filming this writing Masterclass. There were 6 trailers parked outside the studio. But in a fictional story, maybe one of them isn't supposed to be there, and nobody knows. He never used this in a book, so you're free to use it.

Writing Thrillers Is All About Suspense

Writing Thrillers Is All About Suspense
A book that has loss in the first few pages automatically builds suspense

Suspense is what motivates your readers to keep turning the page. Thriller novels are all about suspense, and the best way to create suspense is to start with a loss. 

An example of loss can be;

  • A family member being murdered
  • The main character being scammed out of millions
  • Jailed for something he or she didn't do

A book that has loss in the first few pages automatically builds suspense. This is because the character will want to take revenge on the person who wronged them.

This works even better if the main character goes after the wrong person and there's a plot twist at the end.

For example, in the book The Guilty, the main character never failed a mission before. But in the first few pages, he fails to pull the trigger, and a backup guy has to complete the mission. His career is over, and he must run for his life.

When reading this, the reader doesn't know what will happen next, and they’re hooked.

Plot Twists Are The Name Of The Game

Plot Twists Are The Name Of The Game
A good plot twist has lots of plausible groundwork laid

If you want to write a thriller novel, then getting good at creating plot twists is essential. However, this is easier said than done because writing good plot twists is tricky. The only way to get better at them is to write lousy plot twists and learn from your mistakes.

A good plot twist has lots of plausible groundwork laid. This way, the reader is surprised but thinks, “I should've seen that coming.”

A boring plot twist has no groundwork, or the groundwork isn't plausible. 

The best tip that Baldacci gives us is to take baby steps. He says, “Don't rush. You don't have to know everything that's going to happen in the book. Take it piece by piece.”

Your Creative Writing Should Emulate A Rollercoaster

Your book should have parts that go up and bring the reader down. Your characters are people, so they can't maintain an unnaturally high level of excitement throughout the book. This isn't only unrealistic, but it wears the reader down.

Your Creative Writing Should Emulate A Rollercoaster
Another trick that Baldacci likes to use is to recap what happened on top of the rollercoaster

This is what causes readers to stop reading since there’s too much to follow.

Instead, think of a rollercoaster. Maybe something terrible happens like a shooting or explosion. This is the top part of the rollercoaster. When characters regroup, relax, and clean their wounds, it's the bottom part of the rollercoaster.

This gives you a chance to show the human side of your characters. Maybe they're battling alcoholism, and after something terrible happened, they relapsed. This builds empathy, rapport and allows your readers to relate with your characters.

Another trick that Baldacci likes to use is to recap what happened on top of the rollercoaster. This prevents readers from going into information overload. He likes to do this with detectives. They’ll talk about everything that happened in the book so far, and your readers can catch up.

Use Cliffhangers To Build Anticipation

Use Cliffhangers To Build Anticipation
Cliffhangers are the best way of building anticipation

Anticipation is one of the most important things when it comes to writing a novel. Cliffhangers are the best way of building anticipation. Something is about to happen, but your readers don't know what. It might be good or bad.

For example, a character is jumping on a diving board. It goes up, and when it comes down, you end the chapter.

The reader won't know what happens, and this forces them to turn the page. The board might break, the pool could be dry, or nothing happens, and everything goes according to plan.

It's essential to use this technique at the end of a chapter in your book. Don't do this with every chapter since it can get predictable, but use it every now and then.

If you're writing a series and are confident in your writing skills, then do this at the end of a book. If your cliffhanger keeps them on the edge of their seat, then they'll kill to get their hands on your next book.

Learn From Rejection

Every great writer gets rejected. Baldacci got rejected several times before someone published his first short story. He remembers that publishers sent him a letter saying that he isn't good enough. Some didn't even bother sending him anything.

Learn From Rejection
Reviewing someone's writing is the most subjective thing in the world

I learned two important lessons when it comes to rejection.

One, it's normal to have your feelings hurt, but you should stick with it and get better. That's the only way to lower your rejection rate. 

Two, reviewing someone's writing is the most subjective thing in the world. There's nothing objective about it. So if you get rejected, it doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't love to publish your book. 

Other reasons why publishers will reject you include:

  • They're having a bad day
  • Your skills are excellent, and they envy your writing
  • They don't have an eye for talent

Is It Worth It?

David Baldacci's writing classes is worth it since you get to learn valuable writing skills from a world-renowned author. His teaching style is fun, so you never feel bored. Also, it's the only place on the internet that allows you to learn from all these writing celebrities. 

However, this isn’t for you if you aren’t into creative writing and thrillers. Also, he rarely answers questions on the Masterclass Hub. It’s more of a community facilitated by Masterclass, so if you’re stuck, you can ask other students for help.

If you aren't into mystery and thriller and more in children's writing, consider taking Judy Blume's Masterclass. If you want to get a good understanding of storytelling, take Margaret Atwood or James Patterson's Masterclass.

Resources

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Author

  • Yaseen is a personal trainer turned professional writer and he’s obsessed with everything health, fitness, and business-related. If he isn’t at the gym, you can find him playing video games or spending time with friends and family.

David Baldacci Masterclass Review Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing

The Bottom Line

Knowing how to make your readers turn the page is an important skill to have as an author. Few people on this planet know how to keep people's attention for long periods. Baldacci’s writing style is fast-paced and exciting. If you can implement everything he teaches in these video lessons, then you're on your way to becoming a better writer.

Pros

  • It dives deep into how to create suspense
  • His teaching style is fast and engaging.
  • He teaches how to overcome rejection.

Cons

  • His teaching style may be too fast for some people.
  • This isn't for you if you're a nonfiction writer.
  • He rarely answers questions on the Hub.
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