Chapter 13 of 19 from Dan Brown

Writing Chapters and Scenes

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Learn Dan’s guiding principles for moving from an outline into a first draft, including how to develop stand-out, big moments and manipulate tension and release.

Topics include: Start With the Purpose of Your Chapter • Scene Deconstruction: The Da Vinci Code • Think Musically About Your Chapters • Create a Negative Space • Find a Fresh Way to Begin Each Chapter • Paint Your Characters Into a Corner • Choose Obstacles That Are Interesting to You

Dan Brown

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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So when you actually move from your outline into that moment when you actually start writing a chapter, you might ask yourself, well, how do I do this? How do I know what goes in this chapter? One of the easiest things you can do is just literally create one bullet point. What is this chapter trying to accomplish? Well in this chapter, I'm going to reveal this secret. Or in this chapter, I'm going to kill this character. In this chapter, my hero is going to escape from the Lourve. Start with one bullet point. That is the purpose of this chapter. Now once you've done that, you realize, well, in this chapter there's going to be a lot of description. There's going to be dialogue. There's going to be maybe new secrets that start to appear. It's almost as if you have a framework for this chapter that is incredibly simple. It has one hook on it that says this is what's going to happen in this chapter. And it's important to remember there are many different kinds of chapters where as you build this armature that has one hook on it. You say, what is this chapter about? That hook can be any number of things. Maybe this is a scene in which you introduce your hero. Maybe that's the hook. This is the scene where I introduced the hero. Maybe this is a chase scene. We say, this is the scene where they run from point A to point B and they're being pursued. Maybe this is a chapter where you set a hook. You say, this is the chapter where I promise the reader I'm going to tell them X. And then at that point, you can kind of relax and have some fun with the chapter. Describe what you want to describe. Have the conversations you want to have. If this chapter is when your character escapes, figure out how they escape. You know what's going to happen, you just have to figure out how. Just as a point of example for knowing what the purpose of a chapter is, I wrote a chapter in "Origin" in which a rabbi is killed. Rabbi Koves is killed in this you eerie bar in Budapest. When I set out to write that chapter, I quite literally wrote down Koves dies. That is the purpose of this chapter. I knew that at this point in the story, that's what needed to happen. So that's the framework. And then I stepped back and said, let's have some fun with this. What's the most interesting way that this can happen? And how can I draw this action out as long as I can? If Koves steps out of his house and the killer just shoots him in the head, not that interesting. But if you've read that chapter, you know that there's a chase. They're on the same bus. Koves tries to get off, and the other guy gets off. They're going through a crowd. They end up in a bar. Koves runs to the bathroom, and tries to trick the killer into thinking he's had a heart attack. The killer doesn't fall for it. It's a long, drawn out process. And really, all that is is an author saying, let's have some fun with this. This scene at the opening of "The Da Vinci Code." Robert Langdon has been as...

Craft page-turning suspense

Packed with secret symbols and high-stakes suspense, Dan Brown’s thrillers have sold more than 250 million copies, including one of the world’s best-selling novels, The Da Vinci Code. In his MasterClass, 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.

The author of The Da Vinci Code teaches his process for researching and writing novels infused with tension, urgency, and burning questions.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Dan will also critique select student work.

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Dan Brown

Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers