Should I buy MasterClasses All-Access Pass?
Are you a writer trying to decide whether or not to pay for MasterClasses All-Access Pass? Here's what I think. Yes.
MasterClass has been one of the most useful resources for me as a writer. I am literally obsessed with it and it’s helped my writing tenfold over the last year. In this article, I want to go over my favorite aspects of the program and why I find the All-Access Pass worth it.
The entire allure of MasterClass is, of course, that it’s taught by masters of various crafts. For writers specifically, there is an exhaustive list of big names. All of whom impart their wisdom in their own unique ways. Here’s the full list at the time this article was written:
Some teachers talked about writing and storytelling in a broader sense. Neil Gaiman’s course leans on the approach of continuously asking the question, “What happens next?” David Mamet teaches dramatic writing and argues that you throw away a lot of theory and structure because it’s bullshit. Dan Brown teaches writing thrillers, but he tries to talk about general concepts that work in every genre of writing. Margaret Atwood discusses things like structure, layering narratives, points of view, timeline theory and characterization.
Other teachers talk about more specific aspects of writing. R. L. Stine talks about tailoring your writing for younger audiences. Joyce Carol Oates breaks down the wonderful world of writing short stories. Billy Collins teaches poetry and the fundamental pillars that prop up the elusive craft.
MasterClass gave every teacher full creative freedom in how they structured their courses. This allowed them to impart wide variety of techniques concerning very similar concepts.
It was this variety of techniques and perspectives that helped me find my style and overall voice as a writer.
A writer’s style is really the collection of techniques and ideas they prefer and apply when writing about things they find interesting. What that implies is sifting through, and experimenting with, tons of techniques and ideas. That’s why the MasterClass All-Access Pass was worth it for me as opposed to purchasing individual MasterClass courses.
As an example of this, Dan Brown and Margaret Atwood both talk about character creation. However, while they both talk about creating well-rounded characters with a certain level of complexity, they do so in vastly different ways. Brown talks about specific tools in making heroes and villains and how to reveal them within a scene. Atwood, on the other hand, talks about things like likeability, details, and gender can influence how we think about characters.
Neil Gaiman and David Mamet both have a less structured view of writing than many of the other teachers. Both talk about stories in terms of character motivations and following the story where it wants to go. His view of storytelling is building it in a discovery-like way. He starts with a character and an idea and lets them explore their way to some unknown end. Mamet, however, talks about the same concept in a reversed fashion. He discusses things it’s important to understand the inevitable end of the story and then strip away all unnecessary detours within the narrative.
If you are looking to purchase MasterClass for the writing courses, I’d like to add that one of my favorite parts of MasterClass has been some of the non-writing specific courses.
Film and Television
Many of the film and television related courses have been extremely helpful in my writing.
Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson’s courses on acting gave me a ton of ideas and actionable tricks I could use for creating characters. Both of them talked a lot about physicality and how they iron out characters to give them a consistent feel throughout a film. This elevated my writing in ways I never would have thought of without their insights.
The MasterClasses on directing gave me a ton of information concerning logistics and the overall artistic process. Spike Lee had a lot of valuable words concerning perseverance as an artist. Ron Howard had some great thoughts on collaboration, which is something we writers can sometimes neglect when starting out. Judd Apatow was one of my favorite courses because his apathetic views on success were oddly inspiring. “Why wait?“ He argued. There’s no reason not to create something immediately. Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass gave me interesting ideas on how storytellers can use color and other senses to bring more depth into a narrative.
Character Studies and Worldbuilding
As writers, we conduct research. To create realistic characters and settings, we need to know about real-life characters and real-life settings. Because of that, I’ve watched many MasterClass courses to conduct a character study and to help with world building.
Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station, did a class on space exploration. At the time, I wanted to write a science fiction short story set in space. Watching Hadfield’s class allowed me to see how a space commander would act. What were his cadences? What was his body language like? How did he carry himself? Aside from characterization, the course also gave me an in-depth look at what space travel actually entails. This helped me understand what conflicts and dilemmas that I could include in my stories. This lead to ideas such as understanding how difficult switching orbits is or how fatal of a problem space dust can be inside of a spaceship. Fascinating to learn. Useful as a writer.
Paul Krugman’s course on economics helped me understand the basics of economic theory. I began incorporating these theories into writing speculative fiction. I started exaggerating his theories and imagining how they might play out in thirty years. As a double-whammy, I began combining Krugman’s ideas on economics with Hadfield’s views on space exploration. This lead to some wonderful ideas.
If you are a budding writer, or even an advanced writer, I highly recommend paying for MasterClasses All-Access Pass. The courses on writing are wonderfully helpful by giving you actionable techniques and inspiring insights. The variety of teaching styles will help you find your own literary voice. Also, the non-writing courses can help you with your character and world-building skills.
Overall, MasterClass has been the best investment that I have made in recent memory. This is my honest opinion. I am a MasterClass affiliate and I am truly obsessed with it. I went very out of my way to become an affiliate because it is a product that I fucking love!
If you follow the link below, or any one on this page, I earn a commission if you make a purchase anytime within the next three months. I hope this was helpful!