MasterClass: who's tried it?

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Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:30 pm Post

For some time now, ads for something called "MasterClass" have been appearing in my Facebook feed. I'm sure that's a result of the different groups and subjects I'm interested in; the site's algorithms are pretty spot-on. In particular Neil Gaiman's storytelling class keeps popping up and I've watched the promotional video for it because he's a hero of mine.

It impressed me enough to go to the site and look around a bit. I see there are classes offered by several popular writers, such as James Patterson, Dan Brown, and Margaret Atwood. While the prices are out of the question on my budget, I wondered whether anyone has tried this program out and if so, how did you like it?

And if you're curious, here's the link:

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Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:29 pm Post

I’ve seen the Aaron Sorkin one on screenwriting (I’m a Sorkin fanboy). It was a fascinating insight into his approach, but ultimately it didn’t change the way I approach my own writing. Then again, I’ve got my “philosophy of writing” down, so was perhaps less in the market for a life-changing lesson. Also, there was quite a bit of overlap between Aaron’s story fundamentals (“Objective and Obstacle”) and what I’d worked out for myself (“Protagonist, Objective, Obstacle, Escalation, Ending”), so again perhaps I was less inclined to see it as transformative.

That said, it was well produced, intelligently structured, and thoroughly entertaining. In short I’m glad I spent the money.

It’s worth noting that it also comes with a community forum for others that have signed up to the class. I’ve not availed myself of that at all. |
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Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:19 pm Post

I heartily recommend the $180 All-Access Pass.

The classes are all very interesting and well-produced; some are more superficial than others, but there's always some facinating insight.

I've found that since I've been a pro screenwriter for a long while, the writing classes didn't surprise me much. That being said, I've found some amazing insight in the non-writing classes. Steve Martin's Comedy Class contains some world-class advice about how to be a better artist of any kind, and how to navigate the business. Martin Scorcese's Filmmaking Class teaches how to find your unique artistry and nurture it -- because it's your ultimate competitive advantage. Usher's class on Performance gives some great insight into building a work ethic and how to conduct yourself in success, and how to drive yourself when success seems elusive.

They now have an iOS app and an AppleTV app as well. When I have a long drive to a meeting, I often listen to MasterClass on my iPhone.

I don't think one class for $99 is a good bet, because they are a little uneven. The $180 All-you-can-eat plan is a treasure trove.

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Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:19 pm Post

Yes, I really plan on doing that.

What will have to happen first is that I will have to have exhausted all my own ideas. Then, I will definitely do that.

The thing is, I think this is a good strategy (waiting for a fallow period) because the $180 deal is a one year deal. Yes, you get access to everything. 365 days later, you have zero access. Unless it was good enough to re-up, for another 180. But honestly, 49c a day? Incredible bargain.

There are at least 9 writers and 3 musicians/recording engineers that I want to get into this with, so I will spend a month with each of them, essentially.

There are tons of experts out there hawking their Professor Google insights, but MC is probably the cream of the crop.

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Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:59 pm Post

Yes, I tried, very cool. satisfied more than

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Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:16 am Post

The Neil Gaiman one was amazingly good fun, because he's obviously such an interesting guy.

But it didn't really change how I write or give me any concrete things to do to be a better writer. You can get much the same effect from his freely-available blogs about how to write.

The one exception was the chapter on writing for comics, which was suddenly very specific, but I guess that isn't the most useful lesson for most of us.

If you want something to give you a clear idea of what to do, try the save the cat writes a novel audiobook if you're a plotter, or the Stephen King On Writing audiobook if you're a pantser. Better still, choose the one you're not.

If you're not rolling in cash, you'd feel a bit let down if you spent all that cash just for the Neil Gaiman one, genius though he is.

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Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:22 am Post

The James Patterson Masterclass was chock full of practical advice. I also checked out the Joyce Carol Oates short story one, and it's patchy. A couple of good chapters with practical suggestions (I loved the idea of a short story in a Q&A format), but a lot of stuff you know already, like how it's good to talk to old people or have a room with a nice view.

If you're like me and really want to know what makes Neil Gaiman tick, read his blog posts on writing, and then download the complete Sandman series and read one a day, and make notes on what the hell just happened there, and what ideas does it give you - that worked for me! :D

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Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:24 am Post

I feel bad about Joyce Carol Oates now, reading that. It's patchy in a good way, ok? :) But none of these masterclasses are worth the billion pounds they're charging, in all honesty. That's not the writers' fault in any way. If the classes were $10 or ten pounds each, they'd be totally worth it.