Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review 2022: Will It Make You A Better Writer?

Have you been wondering if Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass will improve your writing? Up until a few weeks ago, I asked myself the same question.

In early 2008, I landed my first writing job for a martial arts magazine in Australia. I had to interview a kickboxing champion and write a feature on him.

Even though I had never written a profile piece before, I thought this would be the story to get me noticed as a writer.

Was I wrong.

I was so lost when it came to writing about people, about settings, about how to get someone’s character on page, that after a dozen rewrites of my profile with the kickboxing champion, I deleted my work and turned in a Q&A article.

Had Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing Masterclass been around back then, I would’ve thrown my gig money at them just to get some help.

How Important Is It For You To Grow Your Nonfiction Writing Skills?

If you have time to scour the internet and learn the ins and outs of nonfiction writing piece-by-piece, then by all means skip this course.

However, if you already have a few writing gigs under your belt and you’re looking for a writing course that covers every aspect of nonfiction writing, then continue reading.

Who is Malcolm Gladwell?

If you’re not familiar with Malcolm Gladwell, he’s a writer for the New Yorker and best-selling author. Malcolm Gladwell’s books include:

Gladwell is also the host of Revisionist History podcast.

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is an online learning platform that produces courses on writing, acting, photography, and more with some of the best in the business.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Cost

In May 2020, Masterclass stopped offering single courses. If you want to take Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass, get the annual All-Access Pass.

With the All-Access Pass, you get access to over a dozen courses taught by some of the best writers in the world.

I’ve written about the All-Access Pass in this in-depth Masterclass Review.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review

Although I’m going to touch on all aspects of this course, in this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review I’d like to focus on the four most important elements of this course…

  • lesson modules
  • course materials
  • community hub
  • office hours

…and whether or not these elements will help you become a better writer.

Because let’s face it, unless you’re just a fan of Gladwell and want a sneak peek into how he works, you’re most likely taking this course to become a better writer.

Before I get into the review, I just want to let you know where I’m coming from as well.

I would consider myself a novice writer. I’ve co-authored and published one memoir, wrote hundreds of articles off- and online (mostly online), and currently work as an editor and writer.

Lesson Modules

“Daddy, is he talking to you?”

This was the question my daughter asked me when she walked up to my desk and saw what appeared to her to be Malcolm Gladwell addressing me as I sat attentively in front of my computer.

malcolm gladwell teaching his "teaches writing" masterclass

You get the feeling that you’re sitting in a New York City apartment with Gladwell, having a conversation with him about the craft of writing. It’s not until the end of the course that you learn where he really is.

The course also appears to be shot unscripted, which I loved. I’d rather hear Gladwell shoot off the hip than hear him read from a teleprompter.

This unscripted style of teaching gives you a chance to see Gladwell working through his thought process as a writer.

The 24 modules in this course run between 10 and 15 minutes each, on average. They cover a variety of topics for writing non-fiction. Some of my favorite modules were:

  • Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle
  • Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement
  • Holding Readers: Controlling Information
  • Developing the Story: Analogous Worlds
  • Characters: Descriptions
  • Characters: World Building
  • Who to Read

In the Structuring Narrative module, Gladwell talks about how his love of jigsaw puzzles helps him piece together his stories.

I think on some level, writing, or at least my kind of writing, is about making the pieces fit. So I have my little shelf of objects, and I want to arrange them in a way that’s compelling to readers. – Malcolm Gladwell

And it’s after watching this module that you find out that there are more ways to put a story together than what you learned in your college writing classes.

But the takeaway for me in this module was how Gladwell uses a number system to help him organize his writing. It seems like such a simple idea, but an idea I overlooked until this course.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

The module on Character: Descriptions and Characters: World Building were also two of my favorites.

For the first time, it dawned on me that I’ve never really introduced my characters or built their worlds into my articles. I’ve written about them as if my readers already knew who I was talking about.

Here’s an example of me introducing my main character, a Muay Thai fighter named Komkit Chanawong, in one of my older articles:

Chanawong grew up the eldest of two children. His father worked construction and his mother cared for the elderly at a nursing home. He started Muay Thai at ten years old…

If you notice, I did a poor job of introducing my main subject. Nowhere in my article did I describe my subject or build the world around him.

After listening to Gladwell talk about how he introduces his main characters and builds their worlds, it changed the way I introduce mine.

Here’s a more recent piece where I applied what I learned from Gladwell’s Masterclass in a feature I did on a fight promoter in Thailand, Ohn Somila:

Ohn is a short, stocky man in his mid-fifties, with dark hair, olive skin, and a baby face. He is Thai. And his first language is Thai. And in his pronunciation of the word “fighter,” comes “fai-teeeer.”

And how I built my subject’s world:

But on most afternoons Ohn drives to MAX Muay Thai Stadium, which is only twenty minutes south of his gym. In a second floor office labeled PROMOTER ROOM he labors in front of one of many whiteboards that span the walls. In this room he works tirelessly with nine other promoters, all of whom busy themselves with separate tasks. Some of them scribble names onto whiteboards. Some of them erase names from whiteboards. Some of them argue. A promoter, who’s just lowered his phone down to his chest, yells a name at Ohn and Ohn scribbles it into a blank slot.

See the difference?

And there’s more. In the module on Who to Read, Gladwell explains why it’s important to read good writing, and gives four examples on who to read, and more importantly, why to read them.

In fact, whenever he mentioned himself and his peers, he always referred to himself as the lesser writer.

Gladwell had no problems referring students to other writers when he felt his shortcomings weren’t enough.

And I loved this about Gladwell. Never once did I ever get the feeling that he was talking down to me, or that he was somehow more special than me or any other writer.

He taught from a place of humility and his passion and enthusiasm for writing won me over from the very start.

Course Materials

A review of Malcolm Gladwell’s masterclass wouldn’t be complete without looking at the course materials.

When you join Gladwell’s Masterclass you get a 76-page workbook to go along with your modules.

The workbook is meant to supplement your course.

But here’s the other thing. It guides you along with an optional class project, which is writing “a 7,000 to 8,000 word reported, New Yorker-style article” which you can pitch to a publication of your choice.

Each module in the workbook has:

  • chapter overviews
  • learn more sections
  • assignments

Chapter Overviews

The chapter overview summarizes the main points from each module. It’s helpful to get a summary in the text after watching the videos.

For one, the summary further solidifies the key takeaways in each module. And two, you can go back and use it as a quick reference later on.

Learn More Sections

The learn more sections give you further readings to supplement what you learned in the module.

For example, in module 2 of this course, you’re given a link to read Gladwell’s article “The Ketchup Conundrum” and you’re given a few questions to consider while reading.

Masterclass learn more section

So what’s great about these learn more sections? You don’t get access to Gladwell’s articles unless you subscribe to the New Yorker.

But Masterclass must’ve paid for the right to use Gladwell’s articles because they give you access to a bunch of his articles.

I suggest you read each and every one of them. You’ll get to see how Gladwell puts into practice the theories of what he’s teaching.


The assignments are also a great addition to the course. They help you practice what you learn in each module.

masterclass assignments section

The assignment above is from the module on Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement.

It was one of my favorite assignments in the course because it asked me to read and deconstruct an article and look for the most important pieces of information that make a story entertaining.

The Community Hub

The Community Hub is an online forum where you can post topics about Gladwell’s course or writing in general and get feedback on your work.

Although I’ve never used the Hub, it looks like it’s an active community. Members post and comment quite frequently, about every few hours.

And if you spend enough time in the Hub, you can go down a rabbit hole of writing topics, prompts, and challenges.

masterclass community hub

The only thing I didn’t like about the Hub was the use of preset tags. For example, when I clicked the malcolm_gladwell tag, I expected to see topics about Gladwell’s Masterclass.

But in reality, anyone can use the tags as they see fit. And oftentimes the malcolm_gladwell tags showed results that had nothing to do with his course.

I’m sure if you spend enough time learning how to use the Hub, you’ll get something fruitful from it. But if you’re expecting a dedicated Hub for Gladwell’s course—good luck. And if I missed it, please let me know.

Office Hours

At the time of writing this Malcolm Gladwell masterclass review, the Office Hours feature was still available. I’m not sure if they removed it from other courses, but I haven’t seen it lately.

It should be the strongest selling point for this course. With Office Hours, you can post a question in video or text and Gladwell will answer your question in the same format.

Sounds amazing, no?

Oddly enough, at the time of this writing, no one has posted any questions for Gladwell to answer.

masterclass office hours

I don’t know if Gladwell’s course was that good that students were left without questions, or if students were afraid to put themselves out there, or if Masterclass didn’t promote this feature as much as they should’ve.

Either way, being able to ask questions and get answers from Gladwell seems like a great benefit to taking this course.

What Other Writers Are Saying About Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass

In Bryan Collins’ review of Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass on his website, Become A Better Writer Today, he says the following:

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is a practical online writing course for nonfiction writers, aspiring columnists, and journalists. 

It’s also a great writing Masterclass if you enjoy reading and listening to Malcolm Gladwell talk about the science behind popular books like Blink, Outliers, and his compilation: What the Dog Saw. 

Genefe Navilon, in her review of Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing on Ideapod, said:

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is eye-opening, infectious, and inspiring. It will make you fall in love with writing differently. And your readers will appreciate it.

Can Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass be Improved?

As I write this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review, I notice a few areas that could be improved.

My biggest problem with this course, as small as it may seem, was that at the end of most of the modules, the audio would cut out abruptly.

This made me think there was more Gladwellian knowledge I might’ve been missing out on.

For the amount of time and energy that went into producing this course, I wondered why the audio team overlooked this glitch in post-production.

If they could’ve faded the audio out at the end of each module, it definitely would’ve put the finishing touches on what was a great production.

And in module 5 of the course, Research, the Learn More section referred to “Life & Death on the Social Ladder” by Helen Epstein. I was supposed to read this article to learn how important research could be for stories.

But when I clicked the link, I was only allowed to read the introduction before getting this message:

new york books subscription costs

This was the only article I couldn’t read in the course.

The last thing I would’ve liked to see from Masterclass would’ve been a clearly stated suggested reading list.

Gladwell’s books are listed at the beginning of the workbook, and a side note to “study other examples of excellent nonfiction from Malcolm’s books and various magazines” has been added.

But if the workbook listed the books that were going to be referenced in the course, it would’ve made following along a bit easier.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Alternatives

If you’re looking for a writing course that will help you become a better nonfiction writer, Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass isn’t your only choice.

On Masterclass alone you also have:

You can even go a step further and take a few of the fiction writing courses, all of which have practical takeaways that you could apply to your nonfiction writing.


I hope this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review helped you decide if the course is right for you.

My decision to take this course boiled down to two questions:

  1. Were my problems with the course deal breakers?
  2. Did the course offer actionable advice and clear takeaways?

To answer question 1: not at all.

And to answer question 2: most definitely.

If I had to take the course all over again, I would. Without question.

Funny thing is, I went into this course a skeptic, thinking I was going to watch all the modules, be unhappy with the content, and then email Masterclass asking for a refund.

But quite the opposite happened — I signed up for an All-Access Masterclass Pass.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

The Ultimate 2022 Masterclass Review

Looking for an in-depth Masterclass review in 2021? 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 2021 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.

Read my in-depth Neil Gaiman Masterclass review.

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.


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.


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.

In fact, I’ve also written an in-depth review of The Great Courses Plus.

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.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review 2022: The Writing Course For Short Story Fiction Writers (And Others!)

Have you been wondering if Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass will turn you into a master storyteller? This in-depth review helps you answer that question.

In this Neil Gaiman Masterclass review, I’m going to cover who this course is for and who it’s not for and help you decide if it will make you a better short fiction writer.

If you don’t want to read the entire review, my short answer is this: sign up for Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass if you’ve already dabbled in fiction writing but want to take your craft to the next level.

If you’re a nonfiction writer looking to add some new storytelling tactics to your writing game, you’ll also benefit from this course — because remember, there is always truth in fiction. 

For the in-depth review, keep reading. 

Who is Neil Gaiman?

Neil Gaiman is an award-winning author who writes short fiction stories, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, and more. Some of his more popular works include:

  • American Gods: A Novel
  • Norse Mythology
  • Neverwhere
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
  • The Ocean at the End of a Lane: A Novel

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass knows that in order to become a better writer, you have to learn how to write a good story from the best. So they create courses that let you learn from the best writers in the business using video modules, workbooks, and community forums.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Cost

As of now, Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass is now part of the All-Access Pass. 

When you get the All-Access Pass, you can unlock over a dozen writing courses taught by some of the best writers in the world.

At the time of this writing, Masterclass is offering two annual memberships for only $180, which is 50% off the original price.

Read my in-depth Masterclass review to find out how the All-Access pass will benefit you as a writer.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review

There’s a lot to unpack in this Neil Gaiman Masterclass review, but I’m going to focus on the features that will help you most as a writer, such as…

  • video lesson modules
  • course materials
  • The Community Hub

Also, I’m assuming that you’re interested in taking this course because you want to become a better short story fiction writer (although people do take Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass because they’re fans of his work), so I’m going to approach the review from this angle.

Before I get into the review, I also want you to know that I’m not a fiction writer. For most of my creative writing career, I’ve written nonfiction features, stories, and books and have worked as a nonfiction editor.

With that said, I’m a firm believer that both fiction and nonfiction writers use the same tools to craft stories. So, if you write nonfiction, you can always learn from fiction writers (and vice-versa). That’s why I take courses taught by both fiction and nonfiction writers.

I make the same argument for fiction writers who are interested in nonfiction storytelling tactics in my Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review.

How Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass Will Help Your Writing

If you take Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass from start to finish, through the writing exercises in the course you’ll be able to:

  • develop stronger characters and settings
  • learn how to listen more intuitively to (and trust) your unique voice
  • uncover the sources of inspiration that will lead to more creative stories

How Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass Won’t Help Your Writing

No Masterclass for writers is perfect, and none of them can cram everything into one course. With that said, here’s what you won’t get from Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass.

  • A step-by-step guide on writing a fictional book from start to finish
  • The “little-known secrets” to writing a bestseller
  • Someone who is going to hold your hand throughout the entire course (you need to be self-motivated)

Cons aside, let’s dive deeper into this Neil Gaiman Masterclass review.

Lesson Modules

After a quick introductory lesson, Neil Gaiman takes you on a journey through his creative philosophies, the philosophies that have helped him write countless masterpieces.

Just by looking at the lesson module names, you can see that Gaiman teaches a lot of subjects.

  • Truth in Fiction
  • Sources of Inspiration
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Developing the Story
  • Short Fiction
  • Dialogue and Character
  • World Building
  • Descriptions
  • Humor
  • Genre
  • Comics
  • Dealing with Writer’s Block
  • Editing
  • Rules for Writers
  • The Writer’s Responsibilities

You also get a few case study lessons about Gaiman’s own books, so that you can apply exactly what he’s teaching you in a practical way.

My favorite lesson was on World Building.

Although I’m a nonfiction writer, I found many strategies from Gaiman’s lesson on World Building useful, strategies I have used to build the worlds of my real-life subjects.

For example, Gaiman reminds us to get out there and experience in-person the worlds we write about so that we can craft our stories using the senses, because if we feel our settings while we’re writing, so will our readers.

Gaiman also reminds us that it’s okay to “play god” and use writing as a “magical creation.” 

I think a lot of times we tend to doubt our creativity. We fear that our stories won’t live up to readers’ expectations. But it’s refreshing to hear Gaiman say that we don’t need approval from anyone to write a gripping story—we simply have to trust our instincts.

Listening to Gaiman break down his creative writing philosophies over 19 well-produced video lessons was great. But what I found even more useful was the materials that came with his Masterclass.

Course Materials

You can download the Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling Masterclass pdf workbook as an extra resource.

neil gaiman masterclass pdf

The workbook is so well put together that you can use it as a stand alone writing course in itself.

It not only reviews what Gaiman covers in his lectures (further reinforcing his writing tactics), but it also gives you exercises that you can use to grow your writing skills after each module.

For example, the workbook comes with many charts and questionnaires to help you build your story’s world and develop your characters.

character development questions

To me, this is where the Masterclass courses offer the most value. I can sit down and watch a video by any writer discussing their strategies. But when professional course developers create assignments that will have you using those strategies immediately, that’s what separates this course from a random YouTube video.

The Community Hub

When you sign up for Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, you also get access to The Community Hub, an online forum where you can post questions, share your work, and get feedback from other course members.

masterclass community hub

This means you aren’t only learning from Gaiman, but from other members who may be further along the writing journey than you are.

Members engage often on The Community Hub as well, so if you do post a question or ask for feedback for your work, it doesn’t take long to get a response.

You can also offer feedback on other writers’ works, which, as you already know, helps you become a better writer. When you teach something, you further reinforce the concept.

Can You Download Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass for Free?

No. There are no free downloads for Neil Gaiman’s writing course.

However, when you sign up for Masterclass you’ll get access to all the modules. But you won’t be able to download them and watch offline. You must take the course through Masterclass’ website.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review Conclusion: Is it Worth Your Time and Money?

Yes, it is.

As I said in the introduction, if you’ve already written fiction and you’re looking to grow your skills, you will discover many new writing tactics in Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. 

Even if you’re a nonfiction writer like myself, you will walk away from this course with storytelling tactics that you can use in your nonfiction writing process.

If you’re new to writing, you can still take Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, but don’t expect to learn the nuts and bolts of writing.

Sign up for Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass or get the All-Access Pass to get access to over a dozen writing courses that Masterclass has produced for writers just like you.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

An Autodidact’s Review of The Great Courses Plus (2021)

Will the online learning platform live up to your expectations? Find out in this in-depth review.

If you’re reading this review of The Great Courses Plus, you’re either one of two people.

You’re either interested in signing up for The Great Courses Plus, or you’re looking to gift The Great Courses Plus to someone else.

In either case, this in-depth review will break down the features and benefits of The Great Courses Plus to help you decide if it’s right for you.

If you don’t have time to go through the entire review and are looking for a quick answer, as a decade-long learner of the platform, I recommend you get The Great Courses Plus one-year membership to save the most money while doing the most learning.

For a full break down of why I recommend The Great Courses, continue reading.

What is The Great Courses Plus?

the great courses plus logo

The Great Courses Plus (formerly The Teaching Company) has produced over 800 in-depth online courses that cover a wide range of topics that fall within 13 categories:

  • economics and finance
  • health, fitness, and nutrition
  • hobby and leisure
  • mathematics
  • philosophy and religion
  • programs for young learners
  • travel
  • food and wine
  • history
  • literature and language (my favorite)
  • music and fine arts
  • professional and personal growth
  • science

In fact, they’ve been producing courses since 1990—that’s three decades. And The Great Courses only produces courses that have been thoroughly researched and scrutinized.

The Great Courses has also partnered with the following companies to create compelling courses:

This means you not only learn from the best subject-matter experts in the world, but from some of the leading institutions too.

The Pros

You get a lot of benefits when joining The Great Courses, but here are four of my favorites.

Lifetime Access

If you pay per course, you get lifetime access to those courses.

In fact, I’ve been taking courses from The Great Courses since 2010, and the very first classes I signed up for are still on my dashboard.

Unlimited Access

If you opt for The Great Courses Plus membership, you get unlimited access to their library of over 800 courses. That’s thousands of hours worth of learning at your fingertips.

Access to Guidebooks

If you course comes with a PDF guidebook, you get access to that. This way you can follow along or do the assignments at the end of each lecture.

Learn on the Go

The Great Courses has a bunch of apps that you can use from your TV, phone, or computer. You can even download the courses and learn wherever you are—even if you don’t have access to the internet.

The Cons

Every online learning platform has room to improve, and The Great Courses is no different. Here are some of the cons that come with using the platform.

Decision Fatigue

There are so many courses that you may find yourself spending more time browsing than actually learning.

Pay Per Courses Prices

Prices for individual courses can get expensive. Just browse through some of their title and you’ll notice that some of them cost over $300.

With that said, that is why it makes sense to get The Great Courses Plus, because then you’ll get access to all the courses for between $12.50 and $20 a month, depending on your membership plan.

Lots of learning, but more importantly—lots of saving.

Course Settings

This may be a minor flaw in their production and no reflection on the quality of the subject matter, but they tend to film their courses in a television studio, which makes the course feel a bit formal.

Compare this to Masterclass, for example, who films its courses where their subjects live, work, or play.

For example, Malcolm Gladwell’s writing Masterclass looks like it was filmed in his New York City apartment or perhaps his favorite eatery.

David Mamet’s Dramatic Writing Masterclass looks like it was filmed in the playwright’s writing cabin.

Who it’s For

There’s no point in writing a review of The Great Courses Plus without first stating who this review is for.

The Great Courses is for anyone who considers himself or herself a lifelong learner or for anyone who enjoys learning through video.

It’s also great for professionals who want to build their skills in their chosen field.

I’m a writer, for instance, so I’ve taken almost all the writing classes that The Great Courses has produced (I’ll get more into this later) and have been able to make myself more valuable as a writer because of that.

When I’m not writing, though, I’m helping raise two lovely little girls, so I’ve also taken one of the parenting courses.

Lastly, The Great Courses is also an excellent resource for anyone who wants to add further knowledge to the subjects they’re studying in school.

As you can see, The Great Courses is for almost anyone. But I say _almost_—because as you’ll discover in the next section, it’s not for everyone.

Who it’s Not For

It wouldn’t be fair to say that The Great Courses is for everyone. In fact, the list of people who this might not be for is infinite.

So, as a tribute to one of my favorite (and silliest) children’s book writers, Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt, here are five people who The Great Courses isn’t for:

  1. Professional alligator wrestlers
  2. Director of sandbags
  3. Extreme unicyclists
  4. Penguinologists
  5. Wizard impersonators

It’s safe to say that if you don’t fit into one of the five categories above, you’re going to love The Great Courses.

Speaking of which…

Why I Love The Great Courses

I may have come close to being #1 above, especially after that one trip to the Everglades in Florida when I was 18, but needless to say, I’ve managed to steer clear of the list.

With that said, I love The Great Courses because I love learning.

Not only that, but I love learning on platforms that deliver exceptional value for the price I’m paying. For $0.41 per day, having access to hundreds of courses is incredible value. (The Great Courses, if you’re reading, don’t raise your prices.)

Price point aside, I also love the feeling I get when diving into a new course.

As soon as I hit play on the first video and the music begins, I know for the next 30 minutes that I’m going to learn, I’m going to be challenged, I’m going to be entertained—but more importantly, I’m going to escape whatever troubles I’ve been facing that day.

I’ve tried the same with YouTube and Netflix, and sure they have their place in the world, but I always walk away from binge-watching feeling guilty that I’ve just squandered my time and got absolutely nothing in return.

When I watch The Great Courses, on the other hand, I finish every (roughly) 30-minute video feeling mentally refreshed. I just learned something that I can apply to my personal and professional life immediately.

I’ve done my best throughout this review of The Great Courses Plus to be as objective as possible, but I couldn’t help but to add a little subjectivity above.

Now, back to the facts.

Give the Gift of The Great Courses Plus

You may be looking to gift someone a membership to The Great Courses Plus, so before I jump into the traditional plans and prices in the rest of this review of The Great Courses Plus, let me quickly talk about gifting costs.

the great courses plus gift

You have three choices for gifting The Great Courses.

  • Three-month Gift Plan ($45)
  • Six-month Gift Plan ($80)
  • Twelve-month Gift Plan ($150)

No matter which plan you chose, the receiver of the gift will get the same level of access as someone who signs up for a membership.

But make sure you read the fine print on the gift plans. You can’t redeem Gift Plans in certain regions outside of the USA or if you are an existing member on some apps.

The Great Courses Plans and Prices

The Great Courses offers a few different plans and prices, which I cover in the sections that follow.

Pay Per Course

Your first option is to pay by the course.

You simply browse the list of courses in the area that interests you, and if you want to buy the course, you can do it as a one-off payment.

The course is yours to stream from the platform or download onto your computer, and it’s yours for life.

I’ve seen some courses for as low as $17.95 and others as high as $334.95 for some of the language courses. Most courses, though, fall in the $60 to $100 range.

Get The Great Courses Plus

If you want to save some serious cash, sign up for The Great Courses Plus.

the great courses plus plans and prices

You have three different plans to chose from:

  • Monthly plan ($20/month)
  • Quarterly plan ($15/month)
  • Annual plan ($12.50/month)

If you chose the monthly plan, you’ll be billed $20 every month, which means you’ll wind up paying $240 a year for your membership.

If you chose the quarterly plan, you’ll pay $15 a month, which comes out to $180 a year.

However, if you pay for a year up front, you only pay $12.50 per month, which comes out to $150 a year, or $90 in savings when compared to the monthly option.

All plans get you access to The Great Courses’ library of over 800 courses.

If you’re not ready to dive into some deep learning, there’s still one way for you to get your feet wet.

The Great Courses Plus 14-Day Free Trial

If you’re not sure you want to commit to a membership, you can try The Great Courses Plus free trial for fourteen days.

You do have to add your credit card info to get the free trial, but if you cancel before your trial is up, you won’t be billed and you’re trial will end on the fourteenth day.

Now that you’ve picked the membership option that’s best for you, let’s look a what you get once you join The Great Courses.

A Closer Review Of The Great Courses Plus

Because The Great Courses has a tremendous amount of content, it would be impossible for me to review every single course.

With that said, I’ll provide you with an overview of what to expect when you pay for a course or sign up for The Great Courses Plus.

What You Get

Once you enroll in any of The Great Courses or become a member of The Great Courses Plus, you’ll be taken to your Digital Library.

This is where you’ll find all your audio and video courses, guidebooks, or any free courses you enrolled in.

the great courses course list

I’ll be using my current list of courses to cover this section of the review. As you can tell by the image above, I love writing courses.

Here are some of the course I’ve taken so far:

  • Writing Creative Nonfiction
  • Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
  • Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft
  • Art of Reading
  • Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive

When you click on one of your courses, you’ll be taken to the course overview, where you’ll find a course summary and list of “lectures.”

I use the word “lectures” lightly because these courses aren’t taught by boring orators who could lull you to sleep.

Course Structure

The structure of most of The Great Courses I’ve taken all follow a similar format.

the great courses video list

That is, they begin with an introductory lecture about the course, the instructor, and what you could expect to learn by the end.

From there, the lessons build one on top of the next, like scaffolding, where you’re able to apply what you’ve previously learned to what you’re learning next.

There are no tests at the end (which you may or may not enjoy), but you do get guidebooks to follow along if you’re inclined to do so.

Some courses come with PDF activities that you have to do at the end of each module.

Course Style

The Great Courses has a formal style when compared to other online learning platforms.

This means the instructors wear suits or dresses, present the material in an academic—but entertaining—way, and teach from the podium.

Compare that to, say, Masterclass, where instructors teach in non-academic settings while in everyday clothes.

Again, it’s all window dressing and shouldn’t be used to measure the value of The Great Courses.


I’ve found, in most cases, that the instructors for each course are thoroughly entertaining in addition to being experts in what they teach.

All of the instructors have been vetted and hand-selected and come from the top institutions and universities in the world.

This is another bonus if you ask me, and here’s why.

When you take a Masterclass, for instance, you’re learning from someone who is a creative master. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they can extract the practicalities of what they do to create beautiful art, fine prose, or well-composed pictures.

It takes someone with a background in teaching to be able to relay that information to you—in most cases.

Not to go to far off track here, but that’s also why I think it’s great to learn from multiple sources. You get to see how the creative has done it; and you get to learn how it’s done from the teacher.

Learning Experience

As with all online learning, you get out of The Great Courses what you put into it.

If you buy a course or sign up for a membership but then never log onto the site, obviously you’re not going to get the most for your money.

On the other end, binge watching just for sake of completing a course isn’t helpful either.

What I’ve found works best is to watch one-to-two lectures per day, let the material sink in, and then continue the next day.

You don’t want to take too long of a break in between lectures either, because then you’ll have to go back and refresh before moving forward.

However, if you set aside an hour a day to actively learn while watching the course, you’ll retain the information.

The Great Courses Plus Apps

Aside from their online platform, The Great Courses also has plenty of apps to choose from.

So no matter how, when, or where you want to do your learning, they’ll be a way for you to enjoy your courses.

Here is where The Great Courses is available:

  • Apple TV
  • App Store
  • Google Play
  • Roku
  • Kindle Fire
  • Chromecast
  • Amazon Fire TV

The Great Courses Alternatives

When it comes to online learning platforms, The Great Courses is one of the better choices, but it’s not your only option.

I’ll briefly cover some of the other major players below.


masterclass logo

Masterclass is right up there as far as quality. They don’t have as many courses as The Great Courses, but the production is top-notch.

As for pricing, Masterclass comes in at $180 for its one-year All-Access Pass.

Read my in-depth review of Masterclass to see if it’s right for you.


Skillshare is another online learning platform, but many people teach on Skillshare not for the sole purpose of helping others learn, but to position themselves as experts in their field.

With that said, although you may learn a thing or two from a Skillshare course, you can’t compare it to a full-blown feature you’d get on The Great Courses.


Udemy offers a lot of free and paid courses, but anyone can teach on the platform, which means instructors aren’t vetted.

Although Udemy might be a good platform to learn how to edit video or use social media, I’d stay away from it for more in-depth subjects.

Lastly, make sure you do background research on your instructor before paying for any course on Udemy.

The Bottom Line

the great courses plus logo

I hope this review of The Great Courses Plus helped you decide if it’s right for you.

If you or someone you love is a lifelong learner and wants to continue to learn new things in an entertaining and engaging way, the The Great Courses is where it’s at.

To save the most money, I recommend getting a one-year membership to The Great Courses Plus.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.