Neil Gaiman MasterClass Review (2020): Is It Worth It? My Verdict

Posted 05 Apr 2020, by

Isabel Cabrera

(This article contains affiliate links which mean we earn a commission if you sign up to MasterClassat no extra cost to you).

“I make things up and write them down” is how British author Neil Gaiman describes his life as a writer.

I have just completed Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling on Masterclass and it was a privilege to learn from one of the greats.

I’ve been a fan of Gaiman since I picked up his novel Stardust many moons ago, and two decades later, scenes from that fantasy novel still stay with me.

When I learnt that he was teaching a class on MasterClass, I knew I had to sign up.

In my Neil Gaiman MasterClass review, I outline my experience with this class, what I enjoyed most about it, and what I thought could’ve been better.

By the end you’ll know whether the Neil Gaiman MasterClass is worth it for you.

Who is Neil Gaiman?

Neil Gaiman is a much-loved British author, journalist and professor whose writing is celebrated throughout the world. His most famous works include The Sandman, The Graveyard Book, Coraline and American Gods.

Gaiman was born in England in 1960.

His numerous stories, comics, graphic novels and fiction books for adults and children have received a panoply of awards, medals and critical acclaim. An abundance of Gaiman’s work has been adapted for TV and film, including the 2009 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning film, Coraline.

Gaiman is married to singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer, and they share one son.

And as I write this Neil Gaiman MasterClass review, both are in lockdown due to COVID-19 in New Zealand, where Palmer is currently touring.

What is MasterClass

You’ve probably heard of MasterClass: It’s making a lot of waves at the moment in the online education space.

MasterClass is a platform for people who want to be inspired by the greatest minds of our generation. Whether it’s music and entertainment, film and TV, writing or sports, members have the opportunity to learn from the greats.

There are classes by comedian Steve Martin, film director David Lynch, author Judy Blume, and even tennis star Serena Williams. If you want to receive guidance from the pros in a specified field, MasterClass is an inspirational way to do it from the comfort of your own home.

For me, there are two standout features of MasterClass

  • Legendary instructors. No where else can you access instructors of this calibre. They’re all household names and legends in their field.
  • Hollywood-quality videos. The video lessons are just incredible. The camerawork, the lighting, the sound, and even the music is at a Hollywood level. This makes the videos a joy to watch.

Admittedly, Neil Gaiman’s class was my first foray into MasterClass, and if that sets the standard for other MasterClasses on the platform, then I cannot wait to do more.

How much does it cost?

You can purchase Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling for $90 if just want to take his individual class.

Alternatively, you can get a MasterClass All-Access Pass (which I would personally opt for) which costs $180 per year or $15 per month. This allows you to access the entire catalog of MasterClass instructors for one year.

MasterClass Special Deal

MasterClass are offering a 2-for-1 deal for a limited time. Check out the current deal here.

(This link opens in a new tab so you can keep reading this review).

Why I wanted to try the Neil Gaiman Masterclass

Apart from the fact that he’s a creative genius, it also came highly recommended from a friend of mine.

I’ve been writing since I was a kidjournalling, poetry, short stories. But then I got somewhat lost on another artistic path and by default and necessity returned to writing but this time as a professional.

It feels good to be paid for your words. It feels good to be paid for being creative. There are worse ways to live a life.

But as a writer, I’m always learning and searching for inspiration and wanting to improve my craft.

If there is anyone in the world to have as your writing teacher, from the comfort of your couch, Neil Gaiman isn’t a bad one to have!

The thing is, I don’t want to stay where I am as a writer. I want to progress. Try different types of writing. Explore different genres.

Neil Gaiman is such a versatile creative; he’s done comics, graphic novels, fantasy novels, fiction, short stories, horror and journalistic columns. He is a person that lives without fear and continually extends himself.

Who wouldn’t want to learn from a person like that?

What you get for your money

Neil Gaiman masterclass review workbook

Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass is made up of 19 video lessons and a 94-page workbook (pictured above).

The 19 videos equate to around five hours of learning time in total – and the production quality is amazing. The videos are shot in a lightly-lit and book-filled room and Gaiman is speaking to you one-to-one.

I think the 94-page downloadable workbook would be really helpful for people who prefer to learn by reading than visual/audio.

Students get a sneak peek into Gaiman’s creative mind as he covers, genre, developing a story, building worlds in fiction, comics, writer’s block and more. You’ll learn how to create conflict and characters. You’ll also learn how to become economical in your writing.

Filmed in Neil Gaiman’s library in his house and also at his writing desk, all of the lessons seem incredibly intimate. Obviously Gaiman feels comfortable because he’s in his own home and it’s all so familiar to him.

This gives a sense of connectedness to him. It’s as if he’s telling you his secrets—which is actually true to a degree.

The 19 lessons you’ll learn

  • Introduction
  • Truth in Fiction
  • Sources of Inspiration
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Developing The Story
  • Story Case Study: The Graveyard Book
  • Short Fiction
  • Short Fiction Case Study: March Tale
  • Dialogue and Character
  • Character Case Study: October Tale
  • Worldbuilding
  • Descriptions
  • Humor
  • Genre
  • Comics
  • Dealing with Writer’s Block
  • Editing
  • Rules for Writers
  • The Writer’s Responsibilities

My 6 favorite lessons

I thought the whole course was amazing but if I had to choose six favourite lessons, the ones below would be it.

Ironically, they happen to be the last six lessons in the course:

Genre

I loved this lesson.

I’m primarily a non-fiction writer but I’m looking at delving into fiction. As a matter of fact, I don’t know the ins and outs of genre writing but I grasp the basics.

In this class Gaiman teaches us why it’s important to learn the rules of genre before breaking those rules. For example: What do genre fans expect? What will disappoint them? What can and can’t you get away with?

Gaiman teaches this lesson by talking about his own lived experiences. I found it really valuable.

Comics

It came as a surprise that I loved this lesson so much. I’ve never really read comics as such nor have I thought about writing comics. But I am drawn to graphic novels and picture books for adults and children.

During this lesson, Gaiman talks about the planning of writing a comic script and storyboard before constructing the storyline and dialogue. Last and certainly not least, the artists are brought into the mix and the collaboration begins.

It’s a beautiful process, this was most definitely my favorite lesson of the MasterClass.

Dealing with writer’s block

Neil Gaiman approaches this lesson with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor.

Writers often use writer’s block as an excuse to pause and not work. They will talk about it, they will whinge about itthe only thing they won’t do is write about it.

Gaiman suggests getting busy doing other things and returning to the project to see it with new eyes. Or to to do a reread of the piece to see where the train went off the rails.

This lesson is filled with some great tips that blocked writers will find extremely beneficial.

Editing

Gaiman begins this lesson by saying that editing is the most important tool for any artist or writer.

The drafts are where you get to explode onto the page and get it all down, whereas the editing is where you hone the piece and turn it into gold.

It’s an informative class, where Gaiman spends a great deal of time talking about his own editing process.

Rules for writers

This lesson discusses the rules we must set ourselves as writers to be successful.

Gaiman also discusses his personal rules in regards to deadlines, rejection and how we judge ourselves. He discusses how abiding by this set of rules has got him published and made him the successful writer he is today.

The writer’s responsibilities

I don’t wish to give away too many spoilers in this review.

But basically, Gaiman had a tragic experience regarding his book The Sandman and that led him into deep contemplation about the writing craft and the responsibilities of writers.

Gaiman goes on to say:

I decided my responsibility is to tell good stories, tell honest stories, tell them to as many people as I can. My responsibility is to encapsulate as much as I can the things I believe, but also…being willing to allow other points of view in.

It’s a lesson that is full of home truths and most definitely makes one think.

What didn’t work about the MasterClass

I can’t fault Neil Gaiman’s masterclass and what it gave me. It goes above and beyond anything that I could have expected.

It was a privilege to do it and I’m sure many students feel similarly.

However, there is two things I think people should be aware of before signing up for his course.

Temper your expectations

You may not get a rapid return on investment.

Neil Gaiman’s course doesn’t flesh out all the mechanics of great writing, sentence structure and story templates. It won’t necessarily propel you to write a bestselling novel right away.

Gaiman’s unique insights on storytelling and the writing process are fascinating but this doesn’t mean that you’ll get a rapid, measurable return in the short term.

The community feature

There is a place inside MasterClass called The Hub where you can chat to other people and discuss the concepts raised in each class.

I’m not one to socialize or network without good reason but I decided to check it out and see what other people were saying about Neil’s videos.

And my foray into The Hub didn’t amount to much.

I found the discussions threadbare and uninspiring. I quickly left and won’t be returning any time soon.

Who can benefit from Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass?

Nail Gaiman masterclass review

I think any writer at any stage of their writing career could benefit from Gaiman’s class. Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a young writer or a best-selling author.

As Gaiman talks about his own career as a writer, students will begin to see that writing isn’t a destination as such—it’s a journey that has no final terminal.

Gaiman acknowledges that even with all his success and fame he’s still a student and is still learning.

Writers can often become paralyzed by their own fear. They take zero action because they’re scared of doing it wrong or making a mistake. Gaiman encourages writers to go for it. He gives them the encouragement they perhaps need to hear.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Neil Gaiman class

Is the Neil Gaiman MasterClass worth it?

Neil Gaiman’s class is definitely worth it. Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a young writer or a best-seller, you can take a lot away from it. You’ll learn how to source inspiration, develop characters, create vivid mental images within your reader, and use humor in your writing. For me these lessons were priceless.

How much does Neil Gaiman's MasterClass cost?

You can purchase the Neil Gaiman MasterClass for $90 if you just want to take his individual class. Or, you can get an All-Access Pass for $180 per year. This allows you to access the entire catalog of MasterClass instructors.

How long is Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass?

Neil Gaiman’s class is made up of 19 video lessons and a 94-page workbook. The 19 videos equate to around five hours of learning time in total – and the production quality is simply amazing.

What are the best MasterClasses for writers?

I love Neil Gaiman so my bias makes me say Neil Gaiman’s one is the best. However, Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, and Margaret Atwood also have extremely popular MasterClasses on writing too.

What is the All-Access Pass?

The All-Access Pass gives you unlimited access to every one of the 80+ classes on MasterClass. The cost of the All-Access Pass is $180 for one year.

Does MasterClass have a free trial?

No. MasterClass doesn'r offer a free trial. However, they do have a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re unhappy with MasterClass for any reason.

Neil Gaiman MasterClass Review: Final verdict

The Neil Gaiman MasterClass is a gift to any writer at any level. It is also a gift to any artist or non-artist.

To hear about the inner processes of a writer who has been consistently successful in his outpouring of work for over 25 years was a joy.

But to make it even better, Neil Gaiman comes across as humble, self-deprecating, endlessly curious and enthused by writingwhich is what makes learning from him so much fun.

From start to finish, the student is engaged and eager to begin the next lesson because of Gaiman’s laid-back and down-to-earth teaching style.

And if you feel for any reason that you’re unable to absorb everything Gaiman is saying in the videos, the downloadable supplement can be used as a backup. It can also be printed out or saved on your device for much later reference, which is so helpful.

Writing is a brave act. Sending your writing out to editors, agents and publishers is also a brave act as Neil Gaiman notes.

All writers of varying ages, levels, skills and capacities need to be fertilized and nourished. I believe this masterclass by Neil Gaiman offers all of those things.

The lessons will make you want to run to the page, get out your pen and notebook or face that word doc screen on your laptop.

Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass is like a salve to a wound for the lost (and perhaps shattered) writer.

It promotes healing.

MasterClass Special Deal

MasterClass are offering a 2-for-1 deal for a limited time. Check out the current deal here.

(This link opens in a new tab so you can keep reading this review).

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