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Arts & Entertainment

Life As A Writer

Dan Brown

Lesson time 08:58 min

Dan explains the importance of persistence, shares tips on how to build a team that believes in you, and teaches you how to write a query letter that will stand out in agency slush piles.

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.
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Shortly after my first novel came out, "Digital Fortress," I was giving a book signing, and I was excited. It was one of my first signings, and I went to this little bookstore in a mall, and they set up a card table in front, and they had a stack of my books there. And I had a bunch of pens just in case one ran out. I was in a coat and tie. I was all very eager. And I waited. It was a three hour signing. And I waited, and I waited, and people walked in the store. Nobody made eye contact with me. Nobody wanted to deal with me. And it was, frankly, it was a little depressing. It was a little demoralizing. I was excited about my book. And toward the end of the day, somebody was coming toward me, eye contact, looking right at me, clearly wants to talk to me. They walk right up to me, and they say, excuse me, can you tell me where the restroom is? And at that moment, I felt as low as I could possibly feel as a writer. Here I had just spent almost two years writing this book and really nobody wanted to talk to me about it. Nobody wanted to buy it. And what I learned from that moment was that the process itself needs to be the reward. You can't be striking out saying if I don't sell x number of books, I've failed. You need to love the process of writing a novel and understand that it takes time to build a readership, that your first novel almost invariably will sell very few copies. You have to love what you do and do it for the sake of writing. Do it for the sake of sharing a story with your readers. And then in the same way that you are committed to your story from beginning to end, be committed to the process of building your career, of building an audience. Just because your first book doesn't sell doesn't mean your second won't. In my case, my first book didn't sell, my second book didn't sell, my third book didn't sell. And I remember the experience of when we finished "The Da Vinci Code," and they gave me a galley-- this was before it came out-- I read the novel, and I thought this is the novel that I would want to read. Here it is. This has everything in it that I as a reader would want, and if this doesn't work, then maybe I shouldn't be a writer, because nobody shares my taste, obviously. I was very fortunate that "The Da Vinci Code" found a readership. And the important thing to remember is that after "The Da Vinci Code" found a readership, my first three books that nobody had read became very popular. I didn't change a single word. Those books had the potential to be popular before they were. The book that you write has the potential to be very, very popular, even if it isn't. Every creative success involves an element of luck. It also involves an element of persistence and understanding the part of the process is failing, failing as you write the novel, and then eventually getting it right, failing as you publish the novel and try to find an audience, and eventually getting it right. Again, stick to your process. Be kin...

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.

The class is practical advice, with great explanations of the actual writing process, the dilemmas and the ideas. Loved his open and honest approach.

Reminding me to commit to the process was the key takeaway and one that I needed to hear. Thank you!

Best class on novel-writing I have ever taken. Dan Brown is a fantastic teacher. Highly accessible, and addresses all the details aspiring thriller writers want to know. I loved how he took us through his process and how he went through the steps of building a thriller, one by one. Incredibly helpful and inspiring, and helped me launch the writing of my own thriller!

This class has inspired me, gotten the wheels turning in my head, to seriously thin about something I've always been interested in, and that's writing a fiction novel.


Rose M.

I am in total agreement with building an audience. I self published and that was damn hard. But I paid people to help me and eventually I got on radio and TV. I didn't make money but I got my book to International Best seller. Now with Dan's advice in this lesson I am determined to get an agent.

Dale U.

This is probably the most important lesson in the class. Knowing that it is not just you in the writing process and there is much more to it than sitting in a room with just you and your computer and notes. Many thanks Dan.


Found this course really great information. What I loved most was that Dan Brown also had doubts about writing just as I have had. It certainly made me ready to get going and start writing again.

Velma B.

My mind attached itself to every lesson and I have copious notes. Thank you so much. I read and read and read thrillers and I am writing one. You have helped me so much and I will probably revisit some of the pages.


That was a super practical segment. It fixed quite a few things for me. Thanks.


I'm glad you shared your own experience when it came to your first books. It shed a light on the difficulty of being a writer, but it also showed that, as you said, you need to be persistent and have faith in yourself and your work. I'm getting to the point where I can publish my first and I'm terrified. But I'm no less determined.

Brenda C.

I liked how Dan talked about what happened after his first book. I know about this because I have friends who have self-published. I also have friends that have agents, too. Sometimes I wonder if getting your book out there--even if it's really a good book--is a crap shoot.

Rapha R.

Hi everyone! I’d like your opinion on self-publish (ebook) while searching for agent / publisher. Should I do it? Do publishers dislike a book that has already been digitally release?


I want to express my gratitude for this MasterClass. The wisdom and golden advices Dan gives us here are truly priceless. Currently I am in the process of editing my first novel. To get to this point has taken me over 5 years. And now I know it Had to. For if it wouldn’t be this long than I would not have a chance to practice my writing and very much likely wouldn’t be able to relate to most of what Dan is saying ( maybe besides the publishing it yet:)) . I also wake up at 4 am every morning for I had trained myself to do so. With all my heart I believe that when there is commitment, discipline and persistence there will be the final result which is the book. I want to thank You Dan for doing this class for listening to you keeps me going. Ania K

Tina W.

The first thing he said resonated with me. My publisher has had my book for about 2 and half months. It went through a blog event where a number of bloggers posted my book on their sites. I ordered 50 books and have sold a few to friends and some have bought the kindle or read the KU version. Still my publisher wants to dump my book. I felt like a failure. My first book did pretty good. I have grasped the fact this book is done. Its published. I knew it wouldn't be a best seller when I did it. It's a fiction based on a true crime. Dan said the process is the reward. Maybe I'd have done it different. My new manuscript will follow Dan's process. I think it will intrigue some and educate others about the world of preppers and survivalists. Yet its a man trying to evade a goverment agent sent to bring him in for what's in his memory.