Published by: Julia
David Baldacci’s Masterclass covers everything that a writer needs to know. He takes you through the entire process from coming up with ideas to publishing your book. Importantly, he also covers the business side of becoming a writer.
Who is your teacher David Baldacci?
David Baldacci is an award-winning thriller and mystery writer. He has written 38 novels, many of which have been published internationally.
To date, he has been writing since he was a child. But, had a career as a lawyer before he started to write seriously. It took him 3 years to write his first novel Absolute Power, which was published in 1996. It was an instant success.
So, you can be sure that you will be learning from a master when you take this online writing course.
By the way, we recommend purchasing Masterclass for more than just one single course. The value comes when you take several. If you want to read our review of the whole platform, check out this Masterclass review article.
If you want to just find out what some of the best masterclasses are, this is the article for you.
Learn to make money from your very first novel and beyond
Importantly, David is also a successful businessman. Unlike some other authors, he was able to structure things, so that he made good money from the very start.
His insights into the writing and publishing businesses are invaluable. They have the potential to save you tens of thousands of dollars. Best of all, to be able to follow this invaluable advice, you do not have to be a trained lawyer like David is.
How to find inspiration for your thrillers from the real world
All of the writer’s masterclasses I have taken, so far, point you towards the real world for inspiration. This one does too. But, with a twist.
David shows you how to look at the real world through the prism of your writer’s mind. He helps you to quickly recognize good ideas. Then use them to make things more interesting and entertaining for your readers. Getting into the habit of doing this as you go through life will enable you to build up a bank of material you can dip into and out of anytime.
For example, David got his inspiration for the plot of The Target from watching tourists and gardeners wandering around in front of the White House. In his novel, some of those people were turned into spies who passed signals to each other on the White House lawn.
How to create a best-selling novel series
At this point, I am going to skip ahead and talk about a very important lesson that is included in a video that is included towards the end of the course.
David has written 38 books, in total. Surprisingly, 31 of them are part of a series. To date, he has created 7 sets of characters that he writes about every year to three years. That is 7 series.
Writing in this way is very, very lucrative. Far more lucrative than writing only standalone books.
Readers fall in love with characters you write about regularly. You can bet they are going to buy every book in the series and continue doing so. Usually, they will turn into lifelong fans. In many cases, people who will buy everything you publish.
So, if you want a huge pool of superfans, writing series novels is the way to go.
David shows you, in detail, how to do this. I doubt you will be able to do this from the get-go. But, without a doubt, this is a great skill set to develop. So, I urge you to persevere and not skip over this lesson even though it comes at the end of the course.
Now, back to how to get ideas for your novels and research them.
Learn to see and exploit the darker side of day-to-day events
If you want to write thrillers or mystery novels you have to create suspense and surprise your audience. To do that, you need to see possibilities that never cross most people’s minds. In the video, he provides several examples to help you to understand how to do this. Complexity is essential if you want to keep your readers engaged and develop strong characters.
How David Baldacci uses non-fiction into his novels
Weaving real-world news stories, facts and experiences into your novels makes a huge difference to how believable your readers will find what you write. The more realistic things are the easier it will be for your audience to engage with your novels.
People who read novels are just as keen to learn about the world as those who read mostly non-fiction books. David shows you how to take advantage of this fact and build up a stash of ideas and research that you can use, in the future.
The broader your field of knowledge, the better your chances are of bringing disparate elements together into a truly original plot.David Baldacci – masterclass.com – Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
How to research your thriller
Now that you have your ideas, you need to dig deeper and do your in-depth research. David’s process is by its very nature very time-consuming and potentially expensive to follow. But, as someone who writes, I can really see the wisdom in his approach.
This section of the course is definitely one you should spend time going over several times. I did and was able to pull several great ideas out of it that I can apply to my own writing straightaway.
Once you become successful and switch to writing full-time you will be able to follow David’s research process, in its entirety.
In this section of the course, he covers everything in great detail. For example, he includes packing tips for the research trips you may need to undertake.
You should also take careful note of how David ensures that he gets the balance between fiction, fact and non-fiction right in his books. After doing all of that research, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of cramming too much of what you have learned into your book. In which case you run the risk of boring your readers rigid.
Doing the writing assignment that is included in this section will help you to practice getting the balance right. Importantly, you can do this exercise using the knowledge you already have.
Research – how to interview people
To become a good writer you need to be able to get into the heads of other people. It is the only way you will be able to create believable and interesting characters and plots.
So, David spends a lot of time teaching you how to interview people to grow your understanding and tease information from them. Below is a summary of the points and tips he covers:
- Use your friends and family to find the right people to speak to
- How to prepare for your interview
- Setting goals for a research interview
- Gaining the trust of the people you speak to
- How to record interviews
- How to protect the privacy of your sources
- Open-ended questions that will enable you to uncover more
David Baldacci’s outlining process
The way David outlines his stories is very different from the approach shared by the other author’s I have learned from by taking their masterclasses.
A few months ago, I spent $180 on an all-access pass and am glad I did. It has enabled me to take 9 of the writing courses that are available via the masterclass.com platform, without paying a cent more, to do so.
In fact, so far, I’ve taken 25 of their 60+ courses using my all-access pass. Instead of paying 25x$80 ($2,000), I’ve only paid $180. So, if you think you might want to take more than 2 of the masterclass.com writing courses, I would urge you to invest in the all-access pass. Doing so will save you a ton of money and enable you to learn far more.
Sorry, for digressing. I felt it was important to point those savings out to you. Now, I can get back to what I was saying about David’s outlining process.
Don’t overwhelm yourself, break it down into tasks.David Baldacci – Thriller and Mystery Writing Masterclass
My big takeaway from this section is how to break things down in a way that ensures you never feel overwhelmed. It is a great tip and one I am already using for my everyday writing projects.
How to construct great characters
To be a successful writer, you need to connect with your readers on an emotional level. The best way to do this is to write your characters in a way that will enable your audience to see them as fellow human beings. You need to make them relatable, so your readers can connect with them on some level. When they do, they will be compelled to keep on turning the pages.
Using dialogue to tell your story
Learning how people speak and recreating it in the dialogue you use in your book is another way of making your characters more believable. David explains how using the right type of dialogue moves your story along at a fast enough pace to excite your readers. To get them to want to know more and be able to more easily follow the twists and turns of your plot.
Pacing, Tension, action, and Suspense
High stakes, mystery, thrilling scenes, action and secrets are all essential components of the best thrillers. David explains how he goes about building suspense in the first few pages of each of his books. He shows you how to come up with the mystery that underpins everything and play it out in a way your audience can follow.
One of David’s neatest tricks is to write some of his action scenes in slow-motion. I know this sounds weird, but, as you will see, it is actually easier to do than you think.
He also covers plot twists. The best thrillers have plenty of them. But, they need to believable and to be introduced to your audience in the right way. David shows you how.
David Baldacci’s writing and editing processes explained
When he started his writing career, like most writers, David had a full-time job. He was a lawyer, so worked crazy hours. Yet, he still managed to write for an average of 4 to 4.5 hours, every day. He explains how to “put another brick in the wall” of your writing career, every single day.
Interestingly, the way David prepares himself for each writing session gives him a bit of a jump on the editing process. He is clearly very good at this side of the business, something I always struggle with. So, I am currently trying out some of his methods. I suspect that even the most experienced writers will find the editing section of this course to be informative.
How to build a good working relationship with your editor
Having a good relationship with your editor is essential. If you are lucky, this will be a lifelong relationship. So, you need to choose wisely and nurture that working relationship.
David shows you how to recognise whether you have chemistry and build respect and develop a smooth way of working together. You have to be able to trust your editor and they need to be able to trust you. Your goals have to be aligned.
Taking control of your writing career
Without a doubt, this is the most important and informative part of David Baldacci’s masterclass.
Take the time to learn the business side of publishing. It will put you in control of your career.David Baldacci’s Thriller Writing Masterclass
All of the writers on the masterclass platform touch on the subjects of getting your books published, marketing and getting paid. But, nobody goes into anywhere near as much detail as David does.
He helps you to understand how not to get screwed by others who work in the publishing industry. I was surprised to learn that a lot of writers get a tiny slice of the pie. Many of them get paid far less than other’s involved in the process of launching and marketing a book. This is clearly wrong. But, it clearly happens a lot. David shows you how to change that situation.
You get to learn how to make the most of the writing community, conferences and various marketing options. He even briefly covers self-publishing.
David Baldacci’s Masterclass writing assignments and workbook
David has written an excellent workbook to help you to make the most of what he is teaching you. He also provides you with two excellent writing assignments, in the videos and two full book outlines. If you have the time to do so it really will be worth your while completing them, especially because they will help you to generate story ideas.
I really liked the way David broke the exercises down into two different sets. Most of the time, you got a general assignment to do to build your understanding of what you had just learned. These exercises are designed for everyone to do, no matter where they are in their writing journey.
The other set of exercises are designed to be done on the book or story you are currently working on. This approach is invaluable. It is another reason, this is my favourite of the 9 writing masterclass.com courses, I have taken so far.
Who is David Baldacci’s Masterclass for?
This course has clearly been designed with people who really want to become professional writers in mind. The emphasis is very much on turning you into a writer that can get their work published and marketed properly.
Of course, if you are a fan of David’s books you are also going to enjoy this masterclass.
I promise you once you have completed this course, you will feel compelled to read some of David’s books again. He is a brilliant teacher. Someone who will inspire you.
Take the course, do the assignments, engage with the community and use the office hours facility to get your questions about writing thrillers answered by David Baldacci himself. You can read more about the three different ways you can get your questions comprehensively answered, by reading my full masterclass.com review.