Want to sharpen your sci-fi writing skills? Check out our N.K. Jemisin MasterClass review to find out what you can learn and if this course will help you.
Are you trying to become the next best-selling sci-fi author? You’ll have to get creative, build fantasy world lore, and immerse your readers in the world you create to achieve your dreams. Once you’ve finished all the writing and editing, you’ll need to focus on getting your novel published. Checking out the content available on MasterClass is a great place to start.
Fortunately, N.K. Jemisin has released a MasterClass about everything you need to know as an aspiring sci-fi writer. She made a lot of mistakes at the beginning of her career and learned from these mistakes, and in this MasterClass, she tries to get your writing career off the ground. She walks you through her creative writing process while addressing common pitfalls to avoid.
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Who Is N.K. Jemisin and Why Should I Take Her MasterClass?
Nora Keita Jemisin, popularly known as N.K. Jemisin is an American fantasy and science fiction writer. You probably know her as the author of The Fifth Season, The City We Became, and The Obelisk Gate.
In this MasterClass, Jeminisin aims to help aspiring writers make a name for themselves. She dives deep into worldbuilding, character psychology, and individual archetypes. Six out of the sixteen lessons are about worldbuilding, and this emphasis makes it a practical option for fantasy and sci-fi writers.
Who Is This MasterClass For?
Jemisin’s MasterClass will help you improve your science fiction writing skills. It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring writer or have already published a few best-sellers. Jemisin reviews fundamental and advanced story-building topics, so all science fiction writers can benefit.
Since Jemisin places so much emphasis on fantasy writing, I wouldn’t suggest this MasterClass to anyone who’s not into sci-fi. Jemisin’s advice is specific and won’t carry over to other forms of writing like screenwriting, copywriting, and songwriting.
What Is N.K Jemisin’s MasterClass Like?
Jemisin’s MasterClass consists of 16 high-definition video lessons that are four hours and two minutes long. Each lesson is around 10 to 20 minutes, and these lessons are broken down into chapters that are three to five minutes.
This makes learning easy as you won’t have to sit through long classes. Her MasterClass also gives you access to a PDF workbook that dives deeper into these subtopics. Here’s a quick summary of all the video lessons in this MasterClass:
- Meet Your Instructor: N. K. Jemisin: 06:34
- Elements of Worldbuilding: 11:57
- Macro-worldbuilding Exercise: Build Your World: 13:31
- Micro-worldbuilding: Conceiving the Culture and People: 18:43
- Micro-worldbuilding: Power Dynamics and Cultural Appropriation: 18:37
- Worldbuilding: Inventing Science and Magic: 16:15
- Worldbuilding: Research: 14:35
- Immersing Your Reader: Choosing a POV: 10:15
- The Psychology of Characters: 15:07
- Forget the Rugged Individual Archetype: 18:24
- The Hierarchy of Characterization: Demographics, Outer Life, and Inner Life: 13:58
- The Hierarchy of Characterization: The Character Arc: 17:45
- How to Publish Your Book: Seeking Publication: 14:39
- How to Find a Literary Agent: 21:47
- Surviving the Literary Marketplace: 13:14
- Writing While Marginalized: 17:28
How Much Does Her Course Cost?
Are you thinking about watching Jemisin’s MasterClass? Not so fast! You’ll first have to sign up for the annual MasterClass pass, which costs $180. There’s no option to buy Jemisin’s class individually, but this pass will give you access to everything on the platform.
You’ll be able to learn from your favorite authors, such as Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Salman Rushdie. But MasterClass isn’t just for aspiring authors. You can learn songwriting from John Legend, screenwriting from Werner Herzog, and filmmaking from James Cameron.
Side note: MasterClass also has courses on entrepreneurship, cooking, poker, and photography. So you can pick up new hobbies and brush up on existing ones.
What I Learned From the N.K Jemisin MasterClass
If you want to learn from Jemisin but don’t have time to sit through the four-hour MasterClass, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered. Below, I’ll share the most important lessons I’ve learned.
Research Is Everything
The first step to writing an engaging science fiction novel is research. The goal is to build your fantasy world and ensure it’s as accurate and plausible as possible. You’re probably thinking, “If my book is fictional, it doesn’t have to be realistic, right?”
Let’s say your book was based in 1850, and in your book, your characters are driving cars. The problem is that cars were only invented in 1886, and if any of your readers understand this, they won’t take your novel seriously. So always research, especially if your novel is based in ancient times. If your fantasy world is set in a real-world place, you should research this place. You could even visit it and talk to the locals about their day-to-day lives.
Understand Your Fictional World As ff You Live in It
Once you’ve conducted research, it’s time to take readers through the everyday lives of your characters. This means understanding your fictional world as if you live in it. You’ll need to know all the little details, like how your characters wake up, put their clothes on, and brush their teeth.
It’s all these little details that are going to immerse the reader inside your world. For example, when Jemisin was researching The Killing Moon, which is set in an ancient Egypt-like society, she had to research how ancient Egyptians used the bathroom and brushed their teeth. Were their toilets in their homes? Or did they have to walk to an outhouse? Although you probably aren’t planning a dramatic toilet scene, knowing these small details are necessary to immerse the reader in your world.
Develop Your Species
When developing your species, you can choose between humans, aliens, animals, insects, or fish; it doesn’t matter. Small changes in how your species interact with their world will produce a completely different reality from ours.
For example, in The Broken Earth trilogy, Jemisin created a human species adapted to live on a seismic planet. They have an organ in their brain that picks up on vibrations, allowing them to prepare for earthquakes.
The inspiration for this species came from birds that can understand when an earthquake or other natural disaster is coming. So, don’t feel pressured into creating something unique. Instead, take inspiration from animals, humans, and insects and combine their abilities to create your species.
Accept Magic as a Science
The best part of being a sci-fi writer is that you can create your laws of physics and give your characters any ability you want, as long as you stay true to your world. It’s common for sci-fi characters to fly, travel between planets, cast magic spells, and travel time. The only thing you want to focus on is staying true to your laws of physics and ensuring there are zero contradictions.
You Probably Won’t Sell Your First Book
Jemisin sees many new and talented authors write excellent first books, but these books don’t sell. They then get frustrated and quit. So if you’re beginning your writing journey, remember that you probably won’t sell your first book, regardless of how good your writing is.
Jemisin wrote novels for almost a decade before writing The Killing Moon, which allowed her to get her first agent. Even then, her agent sent this book to every publication in New York, and everyone rejected it. So it’s essential to develop a thick skin and own rejection as it’ll provide valuable feedback. If you take it well, you’ll grow as a writer.
My Testing Criteria
I spent around seven hours taking Jemisin’s MasterClass, jotting down notes, and completing all the assignments. During this time, I used this set of criteria to gain an understanding of how valuable her course is:
- Ease of learning: While watching this MasterClass, I mainly looked at how easy to understand Jemisin’s teachings are to understand.
- Knowledge: I wrote down all of Jemisin’s creative tips and analyzed how they benefited my writing process.
- Real-life exercises: I’ve always believed in learning by doing, not watching. So the assignments in this MasterClass were also essential to my decision.
- Additional tips: The last thing I looked at was how Jemisin’s advice translated into other types of writing.
Why You Can Trust Me
I’ve been writing various types of content like reviews, ultimate guides, and listicles for a handful of years. I’ve reviewed everything from MasterClasses to writing assistant software and everyday household items.
However, at the beginning of my writing career, I needed more confidence in my writing abilities, which is where MasterClass helped. It allowed me to learn from my favorite authors, and I took inspiration from their creative processes to improve the quality of my work. While reviewing Jemisin’s MasterClass, I watched the entire four-hour class, took notes, and worked through all the assignments to understand their usefulness.
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N.K. Jemisin Teaches Fantasy & Science Fiction Writing
The Bottom Line
The N.K. Jemisin MasterClass is the best MasterClass you can take if you’re an aspiring sci-fi writer. It thoroughly covers worldbuilding, character psychology, audience immersion, and research. It’s a fantastic starting point because Jemisin also addresses several pitfalls you will likely encounter on your writing journey.
But her course can only teach you so much. Most of your writing lessons will come from writing sci-fi novels, making mistakes, and learning from these mistakes. So make the most of Jemisin’s lessons and start writing!
- Jemisin’s course is tailored around sci-fi and fantasy writing
- It places a lot of emphasis on worldbuilding
- You’ll find plenty of assignments and case studies
- She shows you how to publish your book
- You’ll learn about Jemisin’s writing process
- Her advice doesn’t transfer well into other areas of writing
- The MasterClass is quite short