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MasterClass Review: Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling

neil-gaiman-masterclass-review

If you’ve come to my small corner of the blogosphere to find out if Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass: Teaches the Art of Storytelling is worth the money, let me answer in three words:

Good. God. Yes.

Before I dive in, let me clarify that I’m not an affiliate for MasterClass, so all opinions are my own. I’m also an All-Access Pass member, which currently costs $180.00. I highly recommend this to all writers, since MasterClass offers thirteen classes by well-renowned authors such as James Patterson, Dan Brown, and Margaret Atwood. But if you can only afford to pay for one class, I do believe Neil Gaiman’s is worth the money!

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Here’s what it includes:

  • Nineteen videos, each approximately 20-25 minutes, around five hours total.
  • A downloadable PDF workbook full of extended information for each video lesson, plus tons of writing exercises, and further recommended reading or online references.
  • Access to a community forum that I didn’t take advantage of. Not yet, at least.
  • Enough inspirational quotes to fill a notebook or Pinterest board.
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When I started this MasterClass earlier this year, I was in a bit of a writing rut.

Well, that’s an understatement. I was at a severe low-point with my mental health and felt as though I’ve lost my voice, which led me to take an extended social media break at the end of February before COVID threw all of us for a loop.

Even from the trailer alone, I was completely enamored by the calm, confident creative energy that oozes from Neil Gaiman, making me aware of how much I’ve lost touch with my creative spirit.

And how badly I wanted it back.

In my class, I’m going to tell what stories are. I’m going to give you some tips, I’m going to give you some exercises, and most of all, I’m going to give you a little push forward that you might not have had.

He ain’t kidding.

I mean, my God. The man is a total genius and yet he somehow made it seem reasonable and possible for me to reach my writing goals … with lots of hard work, of course. His lessons were wonderfully designed to build upon each other, starting with inspiring classes about:

  • Truth in Fiction
  • Inspiration
  • Finding your Voice
  • and Developing Story.
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I must admit that the pen addict in me also loved it when he explained the need for each writer to have a compost heap, opening his jacket pocket to reveal an inner pocket full of pens.

I think it’s really important for a writer to have a compost heap. Everything you read, things that you write, things that you listen to, people you encounter, they can all go on the compost heap and rot down, and out of them, grow beautiful stories.

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After hearing this, I immediately went to Amazon to buy these little beauties, (affiliate link,) that are quite wonderful and make for pretty pink compost heaps to keep in my purse. Or black, green, orange, blue, if pink doesn’t suit you. 😉

I also truly enjoyed his three case studies where he read some of his short stories out loud which corresponded to his lessons on:

  • Short Fiction
  • Dialogue/Characters
  • World Building
  • Description
  • and Humor

I didn’t gain much from his lessons on Genre and Comics, but his last four lessons on:

  • Writers Block
  • Editing
  • Rules
  • and Responsibilities are one that I will come back to time and time again.
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Now. About the downloadable PDF.

Holy cow. Usually, I don’t pay much attention in general to printable worksheets since many are just repeats of what was shared throughout the lessons. Not this time. Each corresponding workbook is an expansion, offering even more information and tips that kept my highlighter busy. Neil Gaiman also offers many writing exercises, both ones that are standalone and can be done for your novel in progress.

I had SO MUCH FUN with the one about a fairy tale character seeking mental health, told from the viewpoint of a therapist. For mine, I chose the hunter who killed Bambi’s mom.

Turned out quite interesting, I must say.

The workbook alone was so informative it could easily be expanded into a writing craft book. I know I will be referring back to mine quite often!

As mentioned before, the class also comes with an active community feature, where attendees share thoughts, questions, and submit their writing exercises for feedback. I haven’t taken advantage of this … there’s only so many hours in a day, but it would be invaluable for beginning writers or anyone searching for a sense of community.

My overall thoughts:

Is Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass worth it?

Who is it for?

Beginning and intermediate writers as well as advanced writers in need of inspiration and a push.

Who is it not for?

Hmm, I think all writers have something to learn from this. But if you’re looking for solid, fundamental craft advice and tips for getting published and finding an agent, then this isn’t for you.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from Neil Gaiman?

Hmm. Good question. The part where he stresses the importance of FINISHING a story or manuscript really hit home with me, seeing as how I have countless incomplete manuscripts gathering dust in my computer.

“You learn more from finishing a failure then you do from writing a success. And you definetely learn more from finishing a failure than you ever do from beginning something that is fantastic but stop.”

This inspired me to start writing more short stories and doing writing exercises. In one sitting you can finish something … a beginning, middle, and an end, DONE. Most of them end up being complete terds, but sometimes a little gem appears, so of which I’m including in a short story collection on Wattpad for shits and giggles!

My Previous MasterClass Reviews

Now, what about you?

Have you taken Neil Gaiman’s or any other MasterClass? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Until then, I wish you lots of happy writing with creative courage!

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