From Dan Brown's MasterClass

Creating Heroes and Villains

Dan teaches his techniques for crafting heroes that your readers will connect with on a human level. Then, learn how to create complex villains who function as catalysts for action and conflict.

Topics include: Choose a Hero That is Suited to Your World • Start With Your Villain • Give Villains Relatable Motivations • Introduce Villains With a Bang • Give Your Heroes Flaws to Make Them Human • Put Yourself Into Your Heroes • Create Stakes That Matter to Your Hero • You Can Be Easy on Your Villain, Not Your Hero

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Dan teaches his techniques for crafting heroes that your readers will connect with on a human level. Then, learn how to create complex villains who function as catalysts for action and conflict.

Topics include: Choose a Hero That is Suited to Your World • Start With Your Villain • Give Villains Relatable Motivations • Introduce Villains With a Bang • Give Your Heroes Flaws to Make Them Human • Put Yourself Into Your Heroes • Create Stakes That Matter to Your Hero • You Can Be Easy on Your Villain, Not Your Hero

Dan Brown

Teaches Writing Thrillers

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So you've created your world, and you have this fundamental question. It's time to populate this world with characters. That's an incredibly fun process to decide, who are the people I'm going to spend the next couple years with? They better be pretty interesting people. You might think that the characters in thrillers have to be different than the characters, say, in a classic novel, or a more literary piece of fiction. They really don't. Thrillers can be made out of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. One thing that you absolutely have to do is you have to choose a hero that's suited to the world. If you've chosen the world of underwater archeology, for example, my guess is you're hero is not an accountant. He's probably a diver, or an archeologist, or a scientist of some sort, or an historian who thinks that they found Atlantis. Whatever it is, it's somebody who's suited to that world. If you're writing a book that takes place in an intelligence agency, your hero should be someone who has a familiarity and an expertise in spycraft, or in analysis, or in global politics. You wouldn't want to take a baker and put him in an intelligence agency. He doesn't have a take. You want somebody who's perspective and world experience serves that world. When we're talking about populating a world with characters, I would argue you might want to write your villain first, because your villain is the one who's going to define your hero. Nobody is heroic until they have to come up against an obstacle, because it is the hardship, the obstacles, and the challenges, that make him or her heroic. A college professor is not heroic necessarily until he has to save the Vatican from an anti-matter bomb. It is the challenge that makes him superhuman and heroic. So a lot of the way that you define a hero is through the villain. It's the pressure that's applied to the hero that creates his or her character. And that should be very, very helpful to you to, say, well, how do I make somebody heroic? Well, guess what. Create a worthy opponent. The villain is the one who will be the catalyst for everything. And so it might be very, very helpful to think in terms of creating your villain first. You've got your world. Who is it? And what does he or she want that's going to make it impossible for another character to achieve their goal? Villains are always more interesting when they function in a moral gray area. In "Inferno," Zobrist, yes, he created a virus that's going to infect a lot of people, but he did so to save the world. So he's a much more interesting character, much more dynamic, shades of gray. So when you create your villain, think in terms of a villain who maybe is doing the wrong things for the right reason. That will make your job easier, because there's an instantaneous interest factor, a moral question that your reader will just perceive instantly. It also makes it more believable, because you know what? We all do the wr...

Craft page-turning suspense

Packed with secret symbols and high-stakes suspense, Dan Brown’s thrillers have sold more than 250 million copies and include one of the world’s best-selling novels, The Da Vinci Code. In his writing class, Dan unveils his step-by-step process for turning ideas into gripping narratives. Learn his methods for researching like a pro, crafting characters, and sustaining suspense all the way to a dramatic surprise ending.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Dan Brown made this Masterclass very interesting, memorable, and exciting. I really enjoyed all of his 18 lessons, but I really appreciated lesson 10 "Building a Story from the Ground Up" where he takes you step-by-step into the crafting of the story. Thanks, Dan. Two-thumbs-up! Cheers, Chuck

Well, I feel a number of new dimensions have been revealed to me - I feel enormous gratitude to the creator sof the course and the author, the instructor. Now, I am going to go through the course again and make sure it becomes part of my working knowledge....

The best course on Masterclass.com. I watched all of the videos in one day and laughed at the final reveal because I've done the same thing!

I've done several of these masterclasses and this was, by far, the best. Dan Brown was so thorough and understandable in showing the writing process, it renewed by confidence as a writer.

Comments

Roberto L G.

It's a pleasure to listen to your lessons. Clear, simple, effective lessons full of invaluable information. Thank you DB

Silvia T.

Great lesson. I want merely say thank you to DBr for his generosity. I think he shares loads of knowledge and food for thought, plus, I like his 'delivering' style.

Shayne O.

Great Lesson. My novel is a memoir which has a few villians, shadowy figures that pop up from time to time including the love interest. Some never to revealed, others insinuated and a couple of actuals. Thanks. Dan really loving your style of delivery.

frederick P.

Excellent! Very informative regarding the structure of creating heroes and villains.

Pat L.

So many takeaways from this chapter. But the main comment I have here is that it made me really focus in on 'who my villian is' and added more depth to my story so far.

Michael C.

Great class with lots of useful pointers. The download doesn't seem to work though? Has anyone else had the same problem?

Harvey S.

I really appreciate this. Before, my novel “Darkness” the Spectre just appears. Now, I made him appear with a bang—through his message he sent to the world.

Elaine

A villain with a moral take on the world, motivated by something personal. I will definitely use this. Thank you!

MAT M.

This lesson really helped me kick up my villain and heroes up a notch. Great class!

John D M.

Here's one I'd appreciate some thoughts on: In my novel, 'White Ashes' I had a strong tendency to name the good guys in first name terms and the bad guys by their 'surname' as often as possible: EG: "David dared look Branagan in the eye." But when the villains were talking amongst themselves, I'd revert to first name terms. I'm guessing this is me, the writer, conveying my contempt for the baddies, to the reader. Input would be appreciated.