To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

Arts & Entertainment

Finding the Idea

Dan Brown

Lesson time 15:13 min

Dan teaches you how to mine the world around you for big ideas, how to choose the right topic for your book, and how to find the moral dilemma at the core of your story.

Dan Brown
Teaches Writing Thrillers
In his first-ever online class, best-selling author Dan Brown teaches you his step-by-step process for turning ideas into page-turning novels.
Get Started


Whether you are a musician, a chef, a painter, or a writer, you need to create the symphony, the souffle, the painting or the novel that you personally like, the one that suits your taste. And then you just have to hope other people share your taste. You should never be chasing somebody else's taste. I write the book that I would want to read. Some people love what I do, some people hate what I do. But you stay the course as a writer, and you say, well, this is just my taste. And maybe you don't share my taste. Well, fortunately, the great thing about novels and thrillers, there are all kinds of different kinds. If you don't like mine, find somebody whose taste you like. The important thing for you, as a writer, is to write the thriller that you would want to read. And I promise you, if you like it, somebody will share your taste. I remember when I was a young writing student, and a teacher said, you've got to write what you know. And I remember thinking, I'm 16 years old. I don't know, I know junior high school. That's not very interesting. And I learned very, very quickly you've actually got to write what you want to know. Find what's interesting to you. Go out and research it. And your enthusiasm as you research this new material is going to help inspire you to do the hard work of writing a novel. It's also going to come through to your readers. If you're excited about this new information, it will come through in your writing. The best advice I can give any aspiring writer is to choose a topic, choose a world that you're excited about. Maybe you don't know about it today, but you might start learning about it tomorrow. And what that will do as you sort of step out of your comfort zone and say, well, I'm just-- I'm an accountant, I just sort of know numbers, but I've always been fascinated in underwater archeology, for example. Well, guess what? Go start watching documentaries on underwater archeology. Start reading books. Make a phone call and find somebody who does this for a living. Go visit, look at their gear, look at their photos. Get excited about their world. It's important to remember that thriller writers write about all sorts of different things. I wrote a book about the Arctic Circle and NASA politics and ice science. I didn't know anything about those topics before I started to write the book, but I was interested. I took a year, and I studied and I studied and I studied. And I learned about these topics. That's what you can do also. No matter what it is that you think you want to write about, you can write about it. Just go educate yourself. Especially now, in the age of the internet, you don't have to fly to the Taj Mahal to write a thriller about the Taj Mahal. The blueprints are online, thousands of photos are online, essays are online. You could probably just with searching the internet find somebody who's just been there. Give them a call. Educate yourself. Choose the topic that's gonna make yo...

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.


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

Dan Brown's Master Class inspired me to move forward with my manuscript, and he gave me some helpful tools to make it happen. Thank you, Dan.

Incredible amount of information...useful and easy to understand...Encouragement... organized...exciting

Definitely come prepared to take notes. Dan is amazing. So much tangible info on process.

This class thoroughly teaches the nuts and bolts of the process, and how to manage the non-writing issues that invariably arise. Super.


Toni S.

I like how he speaks and teaches. He keeps the process moving and explains very well.


I am on section three. Dan Brown is doing a very good job of teaching to this point. I am trying to decide on whether read the course book first, or watch all the videos, take notes and then read the course book. One thing I am finding is the navigation through the website and the actual lessons could use some work, as well as a syllabus that lays out a framework on hos to use it, or suggestions. I plan on reviewing the material several times, given the extent of the material. I do think that the people who put it together could do a little more work on the descriptions and the navigation of the page though.

A fellow student

Am I studying online or watching a movie? Why this is exciting! Thank you!


I certainly don't mean to sound like "it's all so simple now" and suggest I can just whip something together but the ease with which Dan Brown teaches these elements gives me a lot more confidence. It's almost as if x+y+z=ABC

A fellow student

You can tell that he is an educator. Excellent instruction and engaging lecture. Thanks :)

A fellow student

Should a writer generally focus on a single morally gray question in his story or can the story explore multiple morally gray areas without losing focus and the readers' attention?

Susannah C.

Big Hows. Get the characters to where the reader knows they will end up in the most fascinating way possible. Great tip.

Susannah C.

Start with the world. Explore one idea. Find a world which connects the old and the new. This is so interesting. I am learning so much from Dan Brown, because his take on how to create is so fresh and different.

Adrienne F.

The video won't load. Have had this issue before on this site. So frustrating.

Luka H.

I got it!the lesson gave me the idea where I should start with and how to grow it.not just for a novel .The inspiration is also useful on real life.Thank you Dan.I will stick on your lessons :)