Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Developing Your Story

Issa Rae

Lesson time 14:55 min

Issa walks you through the ingredients that every story needs and explains how to test your stories with new audiences.

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

Topics include: Building Your Story House · Layering Authenticity & Texture · Discovering Your Approach to Humor · Navigating Story Ideas


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I love a good story that is rooted in drama. And that's not to say it's dramatic. It could be comedic and rooted in drama. But you have to have tension. You have to have stakes. You have to have something that pulls you in. And I think as humans, we're all drawn to mess. You know, I think even as you're driving, you see something. You see an accident. And you're going to be like oh, my God. What happened? And then you're going to make scenarios in your head. You're already making up a story like they were probably driving around. They were probably texting. You know, that's why. Or they were arguing in the car. I think there's just something natural about our instinct to fill in the blanks. And I love stories that also provoke that from me. So when I'm watching something, and if the story is great, I'm already trying to fill in the blanks like oh, what happened? Oh, she did this. OK. Oh, my gosh. She probably-- she probably walked in on him doing this. And so I think the best stories to me give you just enough for you to also do the work, for you to also feel invested. Even in my own comedies, you're always going to find elements of drama. You're always going to find elements of tension because those make the most compelling stories to me. [MUSIC PLAYING] Every good story should have a strong point of view. As a storyteller, what do you have to say? What-- why am I listening to you tell this story? What is your specific worldview that's going to make this story interesting? Are you cynical? Are you optimistic? Are you from a different country? Like what is your unique perspective? That is where you should start and just think about why you're the person to tell this story. I remember writing down the phrases "I'm awkward and Black" after having an epiphany in my New York closet-sized apartment. And it was an accumulation of all of these social anxieties that I had. And it also came from watching shows like "30 Rock" and "Seinfeld" and this one David Cross show called "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" and identifying with different parts in all of those shows. And the word awkward just resonated with how I thought I acted or how I thought I was. It felt like an identity to me. And obviously, the Black part was something that I had identified with, you know, all my life and so-- but I'd never really seen those two things together. And I realized that that was a void that other people were noticing. That character and that archetype was a void that other people were noticing. And that was definitely made apparent to me when I read an article that was basically like where's the Black Liz Lemon? That is Tina Fey's character on "30 Rock." So I was like, man, I keep making all these excuses about why I can't make it. And somebody else is going to read that article. And they're going to make this character. And so that really, really lit a fire under my ass. I remember the first thing...

About the Instructor

The Emmy-nominated star and creator of the award-winning HBO series Insecure is here to show you how it’s done. Issa Rae uses her signature do-it-yourself ethos, humor, and voice to offer writers and creators of all types the motivation and tools they’ll need on their journey. Issa shares how she has navigated Hollywood while Black and inspires you to reach your creative dreams and never take no for an answer.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Issa Rae

Emmy-nominated writer, actor, and producer Issa Rae teaches you how to bring your creative vision to life.

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