From Dan Brown's MasterClass

Life As A Writer

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.

Topics include: Be Persistent • Invest in Yourself • Build a Team That Believes in You • Write a Great Query Letter


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.

Topics include: Be Persistent • Invest in Yourself • Build a Team That Believes in You • Write a Great Query Letter

Dan Brown

Teaches Writing Thrillers

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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.

I've learned a lot about process and about the different steps that are included in that process. I've also learned some very good practices that will help me as I continue writing my book and eventually have this series published.

Absolutely riveting! I’m so pleased I took this class

How he crafts his classes are beautifully sculptured to lure you in. I have learned so much from him- not just Thrillers, but writing amazing stories.

Very helpful and encouraging to a writer who has just had seven serious rejection notes from major publishers for a book that took three years to write


Meghan H.

I LOVED this class. There was SO much helpful instruction on writing technique that is already helping me rewrite my novel, and the writing life section helped me at my core to bring the spark of writing love back. Thank you, Dan Brown.


"The process needs to be the reward." Oh, I SO needed to hear this. Thank you!

Zanne B.

As a new novelist, I needed this course in the worst way. In absolutely every session were wonderful nuggets of wisdom that even a seasoned writer would find valuable. I have had writer's block, where all I can do is go back over what I have written and edit. I needed a push to just write, edit later. There were so many things that have stuck in my mind and things that I will go back over the course to make sure I learned what I needed. Thank you, Dan Brown!

A fellow student

This was so valuable to me. I am a retired police chief and I vividly remember my first "book signing" for a non-fiction book on violent crime 20 years ago. The only thing anyone asked was "Do you know where the bathrooms are?" Exactly as you said! Flash forward to 2019, my first thriller comes out in August and my publisher wants me to do book signings and I have, of course, been resisting. Thank you so much for sharing this experience. Your story made me laugh at myself. So, alas, I shall do the book signings AND will be sure to know the locations of the bathrooms ahead of time!! :) Patricia Harman (Waldorf Publishing)

Carlene G.

I'm totally in love with Mr. Brown's voice! I'm feasting on his words and I'm full. Thank you.

Noreen L.

I like this addition to Brown's masterclass series. I think some people believe it's all fun and games once you've published and to give an accurate description of the reality of the situation is validating in many ways. Many thanks to Dan Brown for sharing this valuable wisdom and experience.

A fellow student

Hi Dan. Thanks for sharing so much of your craft. I also want to applaud you in reminding us about how people see things! I totally forgot about that aspect. You are right. We are not looking all over the place, like some crazy cartoon character, but take things in from the highest point downwards. I hate to admit that I might have been writing like this, but knowing this now, I won't. As you said, writing is a hands on practice thing, you got to learn through doing and by taking courses like these. I've taken eight or nine courses, paid and unpaid, of good quality and bad, and I learn bits and pieces despite thinking I've learned all there could be.

Marina M.

This class changed my approach to myself as an impostor. To find helpers is a very difficult business. Especially for a new name. What I really appreciate is a finding a pleasure in a process, because the result is iffy. Thank you Dan. I will retake your class again. This time with a pencil.

Catherine M.

With the advent of Amazon and the ease of self-publishing, what exactly does a publisher contribute these days, besides their good name, to the book process? If you're unknown, you have to market your book yourself anyway. Rather than paying a publisher and an agent, plus a percentage to the retailer, why not just go straight to the retailer? Anybody? I'm truly interested and curious. Any first-hand experiences going with either a publisher or with self-publishing?

Cornelius P.

"Promoting your own work, is about believing in what you do and investing in yourself"... Inspired...