This article covers the best Masterclass writing courses. These are ideal for new and experienced creative writing, for authors and screenwriters.
Masterclass is one of the best learning platforms for writers. You can learn from writing heroes like James Patterson, Margaret Atwood, David Baldacci and many others. But where should you start?
When I reviewed Masterclass a few years ago, I profiled my favorite authors’ creative processes and how they capture the imagination of millions. While writing that review, I enjoyed watching best-selling authors break down complex topics into bite-sized lessons I could act on.
Back then, Masterclass had fewer courses. Good news! Today, if you write fantasy novels, short movies, or advertisements, Masterclass has a course for you. In this post, I’ll profile the best Masterclasses for writers, what I learned from the instructors, and how they can improve your life.
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ High-quality video lessons
- ✓ A-list instructors
- 1. Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
- 2. James Patterson Teaches Writing
- 3. Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
- 4. Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing
- 5. Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting
- 6. Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
- 7. R.L. Stine Teaches Writing Children’s Books
- 8. David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
- 9. David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
- 10. Judy Blume Teaches Fiction Writing
- 11. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television
- 12. Joyce Carol Oates Teaches the Art of the Short Story
- 13. Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking
- 14. Salman Rushdie Teaches Storytelling and Writing
- 15. N.K. Jemisin Teaches Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing
- 16. Amy Tan Teaches Fiction, Memory, and Imagination
- 17. David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor
- 18. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy
- My Testing Criteria
- Why Trust Us?
- Best Masterclass Courses For Writers: The Final Word
- Masterclass Writing FAQ
1. Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
Neil Gaiman is an English author who writes novels, short fiction, comic books, and films. Some of his famous books include:
- American Gods
- The Sandman
During his Masterclass, Gaiman speaks about finding your voice as a writer, how to develop a story, and dealing with writer’s block. He also shares unique writing exercises that allow you to fully grasp his message.
Over the course of four hours and 49 minutes, you’ll learn almost everything you need to write an eye-catching story. When taking Gaiman’s Masterclass, I learned a few important lessons that I implemented into my creative process.
For example, I always try to carry a little workbook so I can put it on paper whenever I get an idea. For more, read our Neil Gaiman Masterclass review.
2. James Patterson Teaches Writing
James Patterson is one of the first authors that I started following, so it was a privilege to get an opportunity to learn from him. After a long career as an advertising executive, Patterson decided to try his hand at writing.
He published his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, in 1976 and has been creating best-sellers ever since. Some of my favorite novels include:
- Red Alert
- Along Came a Spider
- Cat & Mouse
During his online class, Patterson speaks about his creative process, how he creates book ideas, and how you can implement his techniques to scale your writing career.
The biggest lesson I learned when taking this Masterclass is how to capture your reader’s attention. Patterson writes novels, but his techniques work with blog posts, video scripts, and advertisements. For more, read our James Patterson Masterclass review.
3. Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist and author. Gladwell started writing at The New Yorker in 1996 and published his first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. After this, he published several best-selling books like:
- Talking to Strangers
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Taking this four hours 54-minute Masterclass taught me a few important lessons I carry with me when creating content. Some of these lessons are:
- How to create stories
- Using interviews to create better content
- Developing titles
Gladwell loves talking to other people when creating a story. He says that everyone has a shelf of random ideas and thoughts in their heads. So why limit yourself to your ideas when you can access other people’s.
When he’s developing a story, he’ll interview people, and after they read a snippet of his writing, participants talk about what it reminds them of. This is an effective way to grow a story because you’re using other people’s experiences. To learn more read our Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing review.
4. Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian author, poet, and teacher, and she has published 18 novels, 11 non-fiction books, and eight children’s books. You might recognize some of her work like:
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Alias Grace
- Cat’s Eye
In this Masterclass, Atwood teaches how to take your creative writing skills to the next level. The video lessons are short, and it’s easy to keep up with her teaching style.
She also talks about her creative process, how she developed it, and how you can use it to create engaging stories. After watching her 23-video-long course, my biggest takeaway is how she builds characters in detail.
Actions build characters. Your characters don’t just exist in isolation; you’re finding out who they are by how they interact with events around them.
Before writing a novel, Atwood likes creating a graph with the month on the left and the year at the top. Then, she’ll plot all the critical world events on the chart, creating uniformity and accuracy. By doing this, you reduce the likelihood of inaccuracies in your book.
My biggest takeaway is how she builds characters in detail. To learn why, read our Margaret Atwood Masterclass review.
5. Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting
Aaron Sorkin is a famous screenwriter, playwright, actor, and director. He developed a passion for writing plays at an early age, and after working multiple odd jobs to support his career in film, he wrote his first hit play, Removing All Doubt.
Since then, Sorkin has written famous films like A Few Good Men, The American President, and Moneyball. He even wrote the script for the biographical movie Steve Jobs released in 2015.
In this Masterclass, Sorkin talks about how he conducts research, develops characters, and comes up with story ideas. Then, he takes you through how he created famous movies like Steve Jobs and The West Wing.
My favorite Masterclass episode is when he talks about writing habits. He says you should sit down and write, regardless of how you feel. It’s better to write something mediocre than to do nothing.
This helped me when creating blog posts. I always struggle with writing introductions since that’s when the writer’s block kicks in. But after putting his advice into practice, I rarely experience that blank screen anxiety because there’s no pressure to create a perfect post.
6. Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
Dan Brown is famous for his novels in the horror and thriller niches. So if you’re an aspiring author who loves writing thrillers, this Masterclass is for you. You might recognize some of his famous books like:
- The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code was such a hit that Columbia Pictures even made a movie of it starring Tom Hanks and Jean Reno. When teaching this Masterclass, Brown aims to help viewers write better and more suspenseful thrillers.
During these classes, he explains how he got ideas for The Da Vinci Code. I found this class helpful because I could implement the techniques he used into my writing.
One of his main principles is to create what you like and hope others share your taste. You shouldn’t chase other people’s tastes because it comes off as inauthentic. Some people will love what you do while others will hate it, but that’s part of being an author.
Check out our guide to the best Dan Brown books.
7. R.L. Stine Teaches Writing Children’s Books
Rober Lawrence Stine is a novelist and screenwriter famous for his work in the children’s niche. His notable books include:
- Fear Street
- Rotten School
- Mostly Ghostly
As a child, Stine was passionate about creating stories, and in 1986, he wrote his first novel, Blind Date.
In his Masterclass, Stine covers how he scares his readers, so they keep coming back. He uses examples and case studies from Goosebumps to help elevate your horror writing skills. There’s even an entire lesson on creating monsters.
I learned that the key to scary writing is a close point of view of the protagonist. When writing in first-person, you place the reader in the protagonist’s head. So when something terrible happens, your readers are frightened.
8. David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
David Baldacci is a former attorney turned best-selling author. He’s well-known for his legal and political novels. Barack Obama even stated that he’s a big fan of Baldacci’s work.
Baldacci started writing stories as a child but decided to study law after graduating from high school. After a long and successful career as an attorney, he published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. Since then, he has written best-selling books like:
- The Camel Club
- The Innocent
- One Summer
During this Masterclass, Baldacci covers creating an outline for your novel, constructing chapters, and building suspense.
Baldacci is one of the best at creating suspense, making it almost impossible to put his books down. In a few video lessons, he talks about his thought process when building tension.
Before something important happens, Baldacci will end the chapter, which forces readers to turn the page quickly. He might finish a book before an exciting event when writing a book series, so readers must read his next book to find out what happens. To learn more, read our David Baldacci Masterclass review.
9. David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
David Mamet is a director, screenwriter, and author who wrote classic films like The Untouchables, Hannibal, and Heist. He also wrote award-winning books like Chicago and Three Uses of the Knife.
Mamet’s four-hour 41 minutes long Masterclass aims to teach viewers how he creates dramatic writing. Some of his classes include:
- The basic rules of dramatic writing
- How to structure your plot
- Building the habit of writing
This Masterclass is divided into 26 videos, so it’s easy to digest. It details how to create dramatic scenes, making it an informative course for anyone looking to improve their drama writing skills.
However, my favorite part of his Masterclass is the exercises that Mamet shares. He believes in learning by making mistakes instead of just absorbing information. For example, in a few episodes, he asks you to structure a plot using his creative methods, and although you’ll make many mistakes, it allows you to grow.
10. Judy Blume Teaches Fiction Writing
Judy Blume is one of the world’s best children’s book authors. She started writing in 1959 and, since then, published over 25 best-selling novels. Some of her best work include:
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Blume’s novels are admired by millions of readers worldwide since she teaches children and young adults about their bodies. As a child, I read a few of Blume’s classics, and her writing voice is informative yet fun.
So it was a pleasure to learn from one of my childhood authors. You’ll go behind the scenes and discover how Blume creates ideas and transfers those ideas onto paper in a way that’s appealing to children.
I especially like her two episodes where she talks about her writing process. Blume explains that the first thing she does when creating a new novel is to write down everything she can in a first draft. This way, she doesn’t have to face a blank screen or page.
Blume also likes writing with a pencil instead of typing on a computer since it allows her to more effectively transfer ideas from her head onto a piece of paper.
11. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television
Shonda Rhimes is a screenwriter, television producer, and author. She’s famous for being the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the hit medical television show Grey’s Anatomy. Here are other popular films that Rhimes wrote:
- The Princess Diaries
- For the People
In her Masterclass, Rhymes goes over essential lessons she learned over her long career and how you can use them to get into the television writing industry.
She covers topics like finding creative ideas, creating memorable characters, and pitching your story. This makes her Masterclass an actionable option for those looking to work in the television industry.
Taking her Masterclass taught me how to write a script for a one-hour drama for my own work. Rhimes talks about the five acts of a show:
- Present your characters with a problem
- The problem escalates
- The plot reaches a peak
- An unexpected outcome
- A victory and celebration
Rhimes goes into how to create each act, when to end it, and how to move on. You’ll also learn some techniques she used when creating Grey’s Anatomy.
12. Joyce Carol Oates Teaches the Art of the Short Story
Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer who writes different stories like plays, novels, poetry, and short stories.
She’s famous for her books, Blonde, The Falls, and We Were the Mulvaneys. She published her first novel, Shuddering Fall, in 1964, and since then, she has published over 60 books and plays.
In her Masterclass, Oates talks about observing the world as an author to generate creative ideas, structuring these ideas concisely, and studying other authors’ work. She also holds writer’s workshops with her students where they do writing exercises.
After taking Oates’ Masterclass, the biggest lesson I learned was how writing with limited time could benefit your creative ideas. The work you create when time is limited is usually better than when you have a few days to write.
Think back to when you had to meet a tight deadline. Then, ideas flow easily, and you rarely struggle with writer’s block. So if you can set a deadline for 20 or 30 minutes, you’ll get into a flow state quickly.
13. Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking
Werner Herzog is a German screenwriter, actor, author, and director. He acted in Star Wars: The Mandalorian and voiced Shrimply Pibbles in Rick and Morty.
He’s also the screenwriter for movies like My Best Fiend, Grizzly Man, and Jack Reacher. During his Masterclass, Herzog shares the writing tips and techniques he developed over the years so you can create compelling screenplays.
I’ve always been passionate about creating films and writing scripts, so I was excited when learning from Herzog. After taking this course, I walked away with information that’ll stay with me forever.
For example, in one of his episodes, Herzog talks about a set of rules that allowed him to create the best films possible. Some of these rules include:
- No cellphones allowed on set
- Stay close to your actors and build a relationship with them
- Throw away the director’s chair
14. Salman Rushdie Teaches Storytelling and Writing
Salman Rushdie is an Indian-British author who’s known for his work in the magic realism genre. He won several prestigious writing awards like The Booker Prize and Golden PEN Award. The Queen of England even gave him a knighthood in June 2007.
You might recognize some of his famous books like:
- The Satanic Verses
- Midnight’s Children
During this writing class, Rushdie teaches the art of storytelling. He goes over bringing characters to life, developing your writing voice, and researching for your novel. This makes it a helpful tool for anyone looking to write their first book.
Rushdie also shares exercises that help your writing. For example, he suggests you write a few thousand words without adjectives, thus forcing you to describe things in more detail.
For example, instead of saying a house is beautiful, you could talk about the house’s color, shape, lawn, and size. This exercise improves your descriptive writing skills.
15. N.K. Jemisin Teaches Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing
Finding a suitable course focused solely on genre fiction and world-building is hard. Enter this Masterclass. N.K. Jemisin is a best-selling American science fiction author. Her books include The Broken Earth trilogy and Inheritance trilogy. An entry in the former series won the Hugo Award for best novel.
Jemisin reveals her approach to world-building, crafting compelling magic, science-fiction systems, and character development. It’s a great choice if you want to write either a best-selling fantasy or science fiction novel.
16. Amy Tan Teaches Fiction, Memory, and Imagination
American author Amy Tan was 33 years old when she started writing fiction. In 1989, her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, spent 40 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. It was turned into a successful film in 1993.
In this Masterclass writing course, she reveals how to write about the challenges and joys of self-discovery. She also covers how to start your story and end it, find your voice, and use your emotional memory to make your writing more powerful.
17. David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor
David Sedaris is a New York Times best-selling comedian, essayist and author. His books Me Talk Pretty One Day and Calypso. In this Masterclass writing course, he reveals how he crafts and performs his famous essays.
Pleasingly, Sedaris writes and performs for the reader in this course. We particularly liked how Sedaris advocates using everyday experiences as material for writing. It’s an excellent course for aspiring essayists and non-fiction writers.
18. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy
Steve Martin is a well-known and beloved comedian in the United States. In addition to his roles in The Jerk, Father of the Bride and Cheaper by the Dozen, he’s also known for his stand-up shows. Only Murders in the Building earned him a nomination for an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 2022.
If you want to learn more about his career and approach to comedy writing, this Masterclass is a good option. In addition, Martin critiques several pieces created by course participants. In order to get the most out of this Masterclass, I recommend reading his autobiography, Born Standing Up too.
My Testing Criteria
When looking for the best Masterclass writing courses to recommend to my fellow writers, I used the following review criteria:
- The expertise of the instructor
- Amount of actionable information in the video lessons
- The teaching style of the instructor
- The length of video lessons
After using Masterclass for several years, I can safely say these courses are worth it.
All the instructors are world-famous experts who share actionable tips you can implement immediately. Their teaching style is also easy to understand, and the annual membership only costs $180. With this all-access pass, you can watch as many classes as you want.
Why Trust Us?
On Become a Writer Today, a team of trained writers and journalists regularly takes and reviews the Masterclass courses on offer and applies lessons from these best-selling authors. We profile individual Masterclass courses, their pros and cons, and periodically update this round-up.
Best Masterclass Courses For Writers: The Final Word
I mostly learned from online videos and blog posts when I started writing. However, this information was often regurgitated. Most blog posts and videos gave the same boring advice; add bullet points, use lots of headers, write like you’re talking to a child, and optimize for SEO.
But when I learned from these Hollywood writers and best-selling authors, I accessed a new world of information. Almost every piece of advice they shared was actionable.
For example, when taking Rushdie’s course, I started writing without adjectives. I instantly got better at descriptive writing because I couldn’t use words like big, fast, and perfect. It would not be easy to find this advice when watching generic online videos.
Masterclass writing courses offer access to a whole new world level of expertise for writers. Writers like David Baldacci, Salman Rushdie, and Judy Blume share their secrets on generating ideas and writing that keep the reader turning the page. By implementing these writing techniques in your creative process, you’ll take your career to the next level.
Masterclass Writing FAQ
Is MasterClass good for beginner writers?
Masterclass offers several great courses for beginner writers. James Patterson’s course is one of its earliest offerings and a good entry point for thriller writers. Neil. Gaiman’s Masterclass is polished, concise and actionable. Some non-fiction writers will enjoy David Seders on Masterclass.
Is MasterClass worth it for writing?
If you want to improve your writing and storytelling abilities, Masterclass is a good choice. It features actionable and digestible courses for many of the world’s top writers, authors and storytellers. It’s all but impossible to learn from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, James Patterson, Salman Rushdie and others elsewhere.
Who has the best writing MasterClass?
The best writing Masterclass depends on your genre, skills and interests. Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass is a delight and contains great writing lessons. David Sedaris delivers a great course about storytelling and humor. Malcolm Gladwell is also a fascinating teacher.
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