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The Only Masterclass Review You Need To Read In 2020

Looking for an in-depth Masterclass review in 2020? Look no further. I break down the online learning platform so you can decide if it’s right for you.

Imagine your favorite writer first.

Now imagine you’re sitting across from your favorite writer—and that writer is teaching you everything he or she knows about the craft of writing.

That’s what it’s like taking a Masterclass writing course.

And in this 2020 Masterclass review, I’m going to show you why this is my absolute go-to online learning platform to improve my writing skills and make myself a more valuable writer.

If you don’t want to read the entire review, my short answer is this:

Masterclass is the next best thing to in-person writing workshops and every writer who wants to develop their skills and earn more money should join Masterclass.

I recommend you get the All-Access Pass to save money and get access to every course.

Continue reading for the full review.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you sign up for Masterclass, I get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is an online learning platform that creates well-produced courses on:

  • film and TV
  • music and entertainment
  • culinary arts
  • writing
  • business, politics, and society
  • sports and games
  • design, photography, and fashion
  • lifestyle
  • science and technology

They currently have over 15 writing courses available, and they add new courses every few months.

These are not your typical academic-style lecture courses delivered by professors.

Masterclass courses are taught by experts who have accomplished great things in their respective fields.

They know what writers struggle with, and they teach you how to overcome those challenges so you can become the writer you’ve always wanted to be.

Who Is Masterclass For?

Masterclass is for you if you consider yourself a “creative professional.” This means a writer, photographer, videographer, artist, chef, and so on.

It is also good for people who consider themselves lifelong learners.

If you fall into one of these categories then you’re going to love what Masterclass has to offer.

Who Is Masterclass Not For?

I want to be as fair as possible in this review of Masterclass. So I’m going to put it like this:

This is not for you if you think you can’t improve your skills as a “creative professional.”

It is also not good for people who aren’t curious or don’t consider themselves lifelong learners.

If you fall into one of these categories then Masterclass isn’t for you.

If you know you can improve your writing skills, keep reading.

Why I Love Masterclass

The biggest reason why I love Masterclass is that I come away with new writing skills each time.

And having new skills means I make myself more valuable as a writer.

It doesn’t matter if I take a class by a fiction or nonfiction writer, I find that I can apply the writers’ takeaways to my writing projects.

For example, I might not want to write a drama, but David Mamet’s advice on dialogue helps me tremendously when I have to decide what kind of dialogue I have to add to the memoirs I ghostwrite or co-author.

I might not ever want to write a screenplay, but Aaron Sorkin’s advice on the rules of story has helped me when outlining business books.

I may also never write a children’s story, but when I tell my daughters’ bedtime stories, I fall back on the advice of Neil Gaiman and R.L. Stine—and my kids love it.

It doesn’t matter what kind of writer you are, or what kind of writer you want to be, you can apply what you learn in all these courses to your craft.

Here are a few more reasons why I love Masterclass:

  • I build my writing skills at my own pace
  • I get access to all writing Masterclasses for one annual price
  • I get to learn the craft of writing from a diverse group of writers

Masterclass Plans And Costs

When you join Masterclass, you have two different options: take individual courses or get the All-Access Pass.

Both plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Individual Courses

Since May 2020, you can no longer take one-off classes through Masterclass.

Instead, I recommend you get the All-Access Pass, which I write about in the next section.

All-Access Pass

When I first joined Masterclass I signed up for Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing.

But after taking his class I was so impressed with the platform that I decided to get the annual All-Access Pass.

With the All-Access Pass you get access to every single Masterclass ever made, and every course that will be published in the future.

Masterclass Free Trial

Currently, Masterclass doesn’t have a free trial.

A Review Of The Best Masterclass For Writers

Masterclass produces a lot of great online courses. But since I focus mostly on writing, most of this review will be about the Masterclass writing courses.

First, I review the writing courses I have taken. Then I list the writing courses that I haven’t taken yet or I’m in the middle of taking.

If I reviewed any of the courses in a separate post, I add a link to that review.

Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling

neil gaiman writing masterclass

Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling is a great Masterclass for writers who want to become better fiction writers.

I don’t know about you, but I could listen to Gaiman talk about storytelling all day long. He’s captivating.

And what he knows about the craft of writing is just as riveting.

The biggest takeaway I got from his course was his practical advice on writing.

My favorite lessons were:

  • Dealing With Writer’s Block
  • Editing
  • Rules For Writers
  • The Writer’s Responsibilities

By the end of Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, I was able to apply a lot of practical advice to my daily writing habits and see improvements.

Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing

malcolm gladwell masterclass review

Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing helps you if you want to become a better nonfiction writer.

The most important thing I took away from his course was that even the blandest of stories can be turned into interesting pieces.

I regularly refer back to this course when I need a refresher.

Some of my favorite lessons in Gladwell’s course were:

  • Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle
  • Holding Readers: Controlling Information
  • Developing The Story
  • Characters: World Building
  • Working As A Writer

By the end of this Masterclass, I felt supremely confident that I would be able to tackle any writing project that came my way.

Read my in-depth Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review.

David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing

david mamet masterclass

David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing helps you if you want to become better at telling dramatic stories.

The biggest takeaway I got from this course was how to structure a story.

Mamet did a lot of drawing in his course. He plotted stories on big sheets of paper, which I loved.

I consider myself a visual learner, even with writing. So having a map to follow was helpful.

I particularly liked the following lessons:

  • Story Ideas
  • Structuring The Plot
  • Narration And Exposition
  • Writing Process
  • Lies And Truth

By the end of David Mamet’s Masterclass, I was able to draft an outline for a screenplay.

Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting

aaron sorkin masterclass

Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting is a solid course for anyone who wants to write a script.

What I found most helpful from this course was the group setting.

Sorkin wasn’t just lecturing about the craft of screenwriting. He was teaching it to writers and critiquing them on their work right in front of you.

It is the closest thing you will get to a live screenwriting workshop.

Some of my favorite lessons in this course were:

  • Story Ideas
  • Developing Characters
  • Rules Of Story
  • Group Workshops
  • Writing Captivating Dialogue

When I was done with Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass I was able to apply a lot of screenwriting techniques to my nonfiction writing projects.

R.L. Stine Teaches Writing For Young Audiences

r.l. stine masterclass

R.L. Stine Teaches Writing For Young Audiences is a solid course for writers who write for younger readers.

My biggest takeaway from this course was to trust your story ideas—and the crazier they are, the better.

When I was helping a client of mine write a YA story, this was my go-to course for all the questions I had.

Some of my favorite lessons were:

  • The Idea Store
  • Outlining: Surprise Endings And Cliffhangers
  • Outlining: Plot Twists And Tricks
  • Hook Readers Right Away
  • Making Monsters

When I was done with R.L. Stine’s Masterclass my daughters absolutely loved the scary stories I made up off the top of my head.

Other Masterclass For Writers

Masterclass has other writing courses available. I didn’t list them above because I am either still taking them, or I haven’t taken them yet.

Joyce Carol Oats Teaches The Art Of The Short Story

joyce carol oats masterclass

Joyce Carol Oats Teaches The Art Of The Short Story is great for writers who want to get better at crafting short stories.

I will have to revisit this course in the future to give it a proper review.

Although I did find some of the course insightful, this was one of the few classes I didn’t finish.

About 5 videos into the course, I thought Oats was bringing too much of her political ideologies into her lessons.

When I take a writing course, I don’t want to hear about someone’s political beliefs. I just want to learn some new writing techniques.

If I stuck Joyce Carol Oats’ Masterclass out, I’m sure I would’ve gotten more out of her course.

I did, however, enjoy her lesson on journaling to capture story ideas.

How Masterclass Works

When I set out to write this Masterclass review, I wanted to be sure I gave you a glimpse into how the courses work.

Once you sign up, it’s easy to navigate the courses and use the materials.

Workbooks

In the introduction of every Masterclass, you get a PDF workbook that goes along with your course.

The workbook is filled with transcripts of the video lessons, extra reading activities, and writing activities that help you practice what you discover in the videos.

Download your workbook by clicking the link in any of the courses you sign up for, and you can then open the workbooks on your computer or print them out.

Video Lessons

neil gaiman masterclass

Once you download the workbook, you can then begin watching the video lessons.

Most courses have about 20 to 25 video lessons that cover a range of writing topics.

Each video lesson runs 10 to 25 minutes long on average, making them perfect to watch before you start your day, during your lunch break, or at the end of your day.

Learn More Sections

masterclass learn more section

After you finish each video lesson, you can then explore the extra reading material in the Learn More sections of your workbook.

These extra readings show you exactly how to apply what you’ve learned in the video lessons through concrete examples.

And some of the extra resources point to further info that helps you as a writer.

You don’t have to do these Learn More sections if you don’t want to. I tend to only do the ones that interest me the most.

Assignments

masterclass assignments

After you watch the video lessons and explore the extra resources, you can then put to practice all the things you’ve learned in each module.

Sometimes assignments will be reading and discussion activities, which you can then share with fellow members in the Community area.

Other times you’ll be asked to write or rewrite your own work and share it with members who have also taken or are taking the same course.

The Masterclass Community

masterclass community

When you join Masterclass, you don’t only get high-quality courses taught by your favorite writers, you also get access to the very active member Community.

You can offer and get feedback on assignments and other questions from the active members.

You can also take part in writing contests and events like National Novel Writing Month as part of the Masterclass community.

When you’re trying to develop your skills, feedback is crucial. So this is by far one of the most valuable areas of Masterclass—and it’s what separates Masterclass from all the other online learning platforms.

But I have to admit, I don’t use it nearly as much as I should.

Office Hours

It used to be that when you took a Masterclass, you’d get the chance to ask the expert any question you like, and they’d respond with an answer in a video.

I don’t know if Masterclass has removed this feature, but I haven’t seen it in any of the recent classes.

To be honest, this was one of those features that you think people would’ve taken advantage of, but barely anyone used it.

Masterclass Mobile App

The Masterclass mobile app is one of my favorite features. Not only can I take courses while I’m away from my desk, but I also like to listen to the audio on long walks.

Masterclass Support

I get the feeling that Masterclass takes feedback seriously, so I felt the need to add this section to my review because not a lot of websites talk about their impressive support.

A while back, I noticed that their website didn’t have a way to search for their courses by category.

When I wanted to find courses about “writing,” I’d have to scroll through all their classes to find the relevant ones, which was time-consuming.

I sent them an email about this, and they responded saying how much they appreciated the feedback. A few months later, they added a category menu, which made it easier to find all the writing courses.

Whether they had that idea in the bag already or not—hard to say.

But it leads me to believe they do value their member’s feedback.

Masterclass Review Cons

Now, no Masterclass review in 2020 would be complete without listing the cons of the platform.

My biggest gripe with their Masterclass, as small as this might seem, is that sometimes their video lessons end abruptly.

For all the time and effort they put into producing these cinematic-like courses, it irks me that some of the videos don’t fade out at the end—but that’s just the perfectionist in me.

To be honest, I don’t have any other complaints about Masterclass. Obviously, you’ll never get the face-to-face feeling you’d get with live workshops, but you can expect this when taking online writing courses.

Masterclass Vs Other Online Learning Platforms

masterclass vs other online learning platforms

How does Masterclass compare to other popular online learning platforms?

The biggest advantage Masterclass has over other online learning platforms is obviously their production value, their community, and the extra course material.

Let’s see how they fare against some of the more popular platforms.

Masterclass Vs The Great Courses

I start with this one because they are the hardest for me to compare. I love Masterclass. But I also love The Great Courses.

And to be honest, having taken courses on both platforms, I think they are both great in their own respective ways.

Masterclass pulls ahead with engagement, though. They obviously go all out on their course production, and it makes it easier to stay interested in the subject and finish the course.

The Great Courses, on the other hand, are usually more academic in nature. They tend to be longer lectures, and you don’t get the intimacy you get with Masterclass.

Their courses are also delivered by professors, who definitely have the knowledge of the subjects they are teaching, but they sometimes don’t have the insight that the experts on Masterclass have.

You can try The Great Courses for free to make your own comparison.

Masterclass Vs Udemy

When it comes to quality, Masterclass is ahead of the curve here.

Udemy is great if you’re on a budget, but you’re going to get courses from writers who have a lot less experience than the experts on Masterclass.

Masterclass Vs Youtube

Again, when comparing Masterclass and YouTube it’s a matter of quality vs quantity.

On YouTube, you can find endless videos on writing, but because anyone can appear to be an “expert” on YouTube, you have to be wary of what you watch.

Masterclass Vs Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning platform similar to Udemy. I’d say it’s a step up in quality compared to Udemy.

But the courses on Skillshare usually very short compared to Masterclass—about 45 minutes to an hour.

At that length, you really can’t uncover much about the craft of writing.

Masterclass wins this one.

Masterclass Vs Lynda

I find that Lynda, which is now LinkedIn Learning, is okay for technical writing or business writing courses.

Again, the courses tend to be a lot shorter and less detailed than the writing courses on Masterclass.

LinkedIn learning is $25 a month, which turns out to be $300 a year. I’d rather spend my money on Masterclass, which offers a lot more value for a lot less money.

Is Masterclass Worth It?

This is the big question everyone wants to know, and I hope this Masterclass review has helped you answer that question.

My answer is—and probably always will be—yes.

If you want to develop your skills as a writer and make yourself more valuable, get the Masterclass All-Access Pass.