From Dan Brown's MasterClass

Universal Character Tools

Dan shares valuable tips for developing authentic secondary characters, and teaches you how to strategically design relationships between characters to maximize conflict and drive plot.

Topics include: Create Secondary Characters That Complement Your Hero • Let Plot Dictate Characters • Know What Your Characters Want • Limit the Number of Characters • Make Important Characters Easy to Remember • Give Characters Opposing Ideas • Establish History Between Your Characters • Reveal Character Through Internal Monologue • Help Your Characters Be Smarter Than You Are

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Dan shares valuable tips for developing authentic secondary characters, and teaches you how to strategically design relationships between characters to maximize conflict and drive plot.

Topics include: Create Secondary Characters That Complement Your Hero • Let Plot Dictate Characters • Know What Your Characters Want • Limit the Number of Characters • Make Important Characters Easy to Remember • Give Characters Opposing Ideas • Establish History Between Your Characters • Reveal Character Through Internal Monologue • Help Your Characters Be Smarter Than You Are

Dan Brown

Teaches Writing Thrillers

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Preview

Once you've kind of decided who your hero is going to be, what are his or her qualities, what are the obstacles they are gonna face, in a very general sense, you're gonna need to start populating this world with secondary characters. One thing you're gonna see over and over in not just thrillers, but all novels, is your hero is going to have some sort of traveling partner, some sort of mentor, some sort of friend with which they navigate this labyrinth that you're setting up. Oftentimes, you'll discover that this traveling partner has a skill set that's very, very different from your hero. This way, you have more choices as an author. Langdon may know a lot about art, but I'm gonna pair him with somebody who knows a lot about biochemistry. Because guess what? They're in a world of viruses. If I paired him with maybe a Princeton professor of symbology, not that interesting. You just would get dialogue of agreement. Nobody's really serving the story. So as you move forward and start to populate your world with characters, choose characters that complement your hero, that have something else to bring. Now, if you've read my books, you know that Langdon, very fortunately, seems to end up with a very attractive woman who has the exact skill set that's gonna be helpful to him. This is part of suspending disbelief. The chance of that happening? Zero. But we're having some fun here. We're writing thrillers. Langdon meets a beautiful cryptologist in "The Da Vinci Code." He meets the queen consort of Spain, who has access to all sorts of things in Spain. These are skill sets and qualities that are going to help him. The other great thing of introducing someone with whom your hero might become romantically involved, instant tension. Whether or not it comes to fruition, your reader through the whole story will say, I wonder if they're gonna get together. They seem to sort of like each other. Instant tension. And you have to do nothing. It's one of the tools that you can use to help yourself instill your narrative with tension with literally no effort. You've just introduced the right kind of character. One of the common misperceptions I find about writing novels is that you need to know every single thing about every character before you can even start. I realize some people may do that, and it's helpful. I find that it's too much information. It's overwhelming to have to write 20 biographies of 20 characters before you start. The process of creating characters is a natural outgrowth of plot. You don't decide, here are 10 characters, I have to figure out what they do, you decide, here's the plot and, at any given moment, what character do I need to appear to facilitate this plot moving forward? In "The Da Vinci Code," I needed somebody to trap Langdon in the Louvre. So I created Bezu Fache. It's not that I thought, I want to write a character that's the police chief, and what can he do. So as you're putting together your novels...

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.

I learned to have confidence in my ideas and trust myself as a writer. Dan Brown is the reason why I became a writer and this experience was amazing. This Masterclass gave me the confidence I needed to carry out my dream of being a writer.

Dan Brown is an engaging speaker. I found lots of new concepts, fresh ways of approaching my writing. Looking forward to digging into the workbook.

By far and away, the best Masterclass I have taken. Dan Brown was thoughtful, passionate and organized in each lesson. He shared with us a ton of information to process and one can see what a gifted teacher his father must have been because Dan is as well. This class can help any writer regardless of their genre. I intend to return to this class time and time again. Thank you!!

Many specific good ideas. Best of all - "protect your process." I needed that.

Comments

EK T.

My secondary characters seem to pop up on their own. They do serve the story.

Tim

Would internal monologue mean that the writing point of view is third person limited omniscient?

A fellow student

There seems to be something wrong with the pdf download for Chapter 6. I keep getting an error message when I try to download or open it, whereas I was able to do both for all previous chapters. Any help appreciated! Thanks, Sara Pascoe dontpascoe@gmail.com

Sallie

I get an error message for this PDF download. Is it missing or just non-existent?

Pat L.

I've said this in previous comments-- I am not rotely giving 5 stars for these lesson. Am genuinely finding all the information useful, and in particular DBs approach to maximizing conflict.

Paul B.

I like how Dan says that you don't have to completely imitate life in words, but to give the reader just enough to get to the next point.

John D M.

Love the thought of building a little (or maybe a lot?) of 'sympathy for the devil'! (The adversary).

A fellow student

Really great content. I’m inspired to get started on my third book in my How To Sell A Lobster trilogy that has somehow morphed into a thriller. Dan has given me tons to work with. Thanks.

Mirka K.

I like the part about the character being smarter than you. I'm writing a "history mystery" period piece. One of my characters ia a 1200s Medieval (Swedish) landlord. He has to be smart, so sometimes I keep writing until I get to thet point where he has to reveal his knowledge, but that's when these situations of not revealing it all, but to tease the reader to go further as the "knowledge will be recealed in the next chapter". PS. Being a 1200s period piece does some of the "heavly lifting" (love the concept) since the period verges on a Viking age setting, but with more civilised rules, the Pope, bishops a.s.o. Suddenly the characters frame work and where he gets his thoughts and MO becomes way easier.

Donna S.

I like that he says you don't need to know every single thing about your characters right away, but you do need to know what the character wants and why can't they have it? I also like that he says to add characters as you need them and that you can make characters appear and disappear as you need them. And to create characters that complement each other. The hero should have a friend or mentor with skill sets that are different from the hero.