Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing | Masterclass : My Review and Notes

Being new to the whole writing process and wanting to learn more about how to write Novels in general, I decided to take the Master Class of several writers which were provided by Masterclass Online :
https://www.masterclass.com/

The first writer I decided to watch was Malcolm Gladwell.

Link to Malcolm Galdwell’s Masterclass:
https://www.masterclass.com/classes/malcolm-gladwell-teaches-writing

Now, I have never heard of him, so the first thing I realized is that I might have made a small mistake of attending a non-fiction writer’s classes – it was too late and I should have started with Neil Gaiman’s class first – But I only realized that half – way and decided to finish the course anyway.


Here are my general reviews on the class :

  • It was a good class for starters, not knowing who Malcolm Gladwell was, I didn’t have any expectations or preconception about who he was, so my impression of him was that he had a nice personality and character, he was actually funny and seemed to enjoy his work a lot.
  • He gave a lot of advice on how to write non-fiction in general and gave loads of example with his own personal work, he mentioned his book – David and Goliath a lot, and often read excerpts from it.
  • As a fiction writer myself, I found it both boring and useful, not sure how to explain that, but I will write a few of my notes in this blog post.
  • This class made me realize how I will never consider becoming a non-fiction writer realizing how hard it was to keep non-fiction writing interesting, it’s a skill that requires interest and passion for the craft, in which I don’t believe I have.
  • Malcolm Gladwell gave a lot of case studies, which helped clear the ideas he was trying to explain more, in which I thought were very useful.

Excerpt from my notebook

My Personal notes from the Masterclass :

These are the notes I jotted down on my notebook while attending the class/course.

  • Structuring the Narrative (The Imperfect Puzzle):
    He mentioned how it’s okay to not answer the main Question of the book.
    “The Best arguments are the ones that are imperfect”.
    – Puzzle has to be odd, done really well.
    (What is interesting?) – The Major question, not perfect is interesting.
    Neat and tidy is not the goal of the narrative.
    – Try to number your sections – it helps solve the problem of transitions. Start a new paragraph, get back to it later.
  • Hold your readers :
    Sketch the theory and framework, give tools to follow along.
  • Create a connection data:
    Data is not boring, always connect it and give a reason to read the number.
  • Cultivate Surprise.
  • Invite readers to guess.
  • Invite readers to identify themselves.
  • Do loads of research You would assumed that was a no-brainer, but he explained it well.
  • Selecting the story : Look where you’ve looked before, Expand on the critical details, avoid first person problem (it raises people’s expectation)
  • Test the idea itself: Tell it over and over again to different people.
  • Find your subject’s authentic self.
  • When interviewing, make it short.
  • When writing about characters, you can use other people to describe him.
  • Write sophisticated ideas using short sentences.
  • Try to provoke deep, reflective emotion.
  • Genuine sadness in rare, laughter is cheap.
  • Grab the reader with your titles.
  • Write as you research.
  • Writer’s block – Just keep writing, lots of problems resolve in the doing.
  • When reading read to discover intent – what did the author intended when he wrote it.
  • learn to appreciate criticism.
  • Try reconstructing a writer’s thought process.

In Conclusion :

I honestly had a hard time enjoying the Masterclass to some extent, I didn’t expect it to have loads of talking, and there was a lack of exercises to be done during the course, It felt very theoretical, I think it’s not meant for beginners in a way, but more like for someone who is already a non-fiction writer or a writer in general who wants to be on a higher skill level.

I found it a bit hard to stay focused at times, and it took me almost a week to watch all the videos, he’s a great teacher and I found him very charismatic, I just think the class wasn’t fore me.

Will I watch it again : Probably not, it was too technical for me, hopefully I will enjoy Neil Gaiman’s classes more.

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