MasterClass is on online education platform, fairly new, but extremely well done, both in concept and execution. Last year my son generously bought me a full subscription to all of their tutorials and lectures. It has proven to be a joy and very beneficial.
In the simplest of terms, the good people at MasterClass have gathered up some of the very best and most talented men and women in a variety of different professional areas to give a series of taped lectures on their areas of expertise. The individual lectures range from just a couple of minutes to close to a half hour, and there seem to be between 20 and 40 lectures for any given series. Their gold-plated lineup includes, among many others, Ron Howard on directing, Samuel L. Jackson and Helen Mirren on acting, Aaron Sorkin on screenwriting (one of my favorites!), Daniel Negreanu on poker and Bob Woodward on journalism.
Having taken a few of these classes, I have found each of them to be beneficial, entertaining and a valuable use of my time. I have taken some in areas where I never expect I will dabble, but still, listening to the very best in any field can be helpful.
And while there are no classes specific to writing a Western, there are plenty about writing.
The first one I took was from James Patterson, the man who is currently the best-selling author in the world. I found the class fascinating, took many notes, have applied much of what I learned to my own writing and look forward to taking the class again — knowing I will pick up new tidbits and gems that I missed the first time through.
Another favorite of mine was the previously mentioned class by Aaron Sorkin, and although it is specific to screenwriting, there are valuable lessons there for any of us who are trying to tell a story.
Judy Blume does an entire series about finding ideas, a great resource since, at least among the writers I know, sometimes we are stuck as we search for new ideas. Dan Brown, a huge international seller, has a class on writing thrillers. Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing (the class I am currently taking). R.L. Stine does a series on writing for young audiences. Malcolm Gladwell’s class is just called Teaching Writing. Shonda Rhimes has a series on writing for television, but again, storytelling is storytelling, whether it is in print or on screen.
My point is that for $180 a year, you can listen to what I have found to be a very candid and powerful series of lectures from the very best at their craft. I would be shocked if you didn’t walk away from each series with a few tidbits that will make your writing better, easier and more successful.
And by the way, you can also learn tennis from Serena Williams, photography from Annie Leibovitz and singing from Christina Aguilera. It may or may not help with your Western novel, but it’s going to be fun to watch!
I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].
Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!