Dan Brown MasterClass Review:
Deconstructing The Process of Thriller Writing

Last updated on: July 27, 2023, Written by:

Bill Tremlon

Just a heads up, whenever possible, I use affiliate links in my reviews to help cover the costs of running this site. You can learn more here.

Being a fan of mind-bending narratives, particularly those penned down by Dan Brown, I’ve always been intrigued by captivating storytelling. But I never quite understood how it’s possible to write a thriller that keeps readers on the edge until the very end.

Fortunately, Dan unveils his secrets in his MasterClass, explaining his thought process and techniques that he used for his bestsellers, including The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Understanding how a best-selling author writes his narratives could be a ticket to becoming a better writer yourself. And that’s not just a short story or thriller writer. It’s a way to become a better writer in general. In this Dan Brown MasterClass Review, I will answer whether it can help you reach this goal.

Dan Brown MasterClass Outline 

In his MasterClass, Dan Brown grants a close-up view of his distinctive storytelling techniques. He exposes his approach to weaving history, science, and suspense into a cohesive thriller novel. Taking the class was no less than an extraordinary opportunity for me, as I got wisdom from Dan’s vast experience in crafting thought-provoking thrillers. 

Dan Brown MasterClass Review

Dan Brown MasterClass Review In a Nutshell

⭐ Rating:8.7 ★★★★★
🥇 Category of class:Writing
📈 Suits best for:Beginner, Intermediate, and Experienced Writers
🕒 Lenght:3 hours 47 minutes
⏳ Avg. Lesson Duration15 minutes
🛍️ Course Essentials:A notebook to pen down Dan’s advice, and an affinity for thriller writing
💼 Complementary material:89-page workbook
📚 No. of Lessons:19 lessons
🛒 Payment options:Individual / Duo / Family
💵 Price:10 – 20 $ (billed annually)
🔄 Refund policy:30-day satisfaction guarantee
🎁 Free trial:

2.The Anatomy of a Thriller;
3.Finding the Idea;
4.Choosing Locations;
5.Creating Heroes and Villains;
6.Universal Character Tools;
7.Character Case Study: The Da Vinci Code;
8.Research, Part 1;
9.Research, Part 2;
10.Building a Story From the Ground Up;
11.Creating Suspense, Part 1;
12.Creating Suspense, Part 2;
13.Writing Chapters and Scenes;
14.Selecting and Utilizing Point of View;
15.Exposition and Dialogue;
16.Editing and Rewriting;
17.Protecting Your Process;
18.Life As A Writer;
19.The Secret of Secrets.

Main Skills You’ll Learn

  • Creating a narrative;
  • Turning everyday ideas into a storyline;
  • Effective use of story location;
  • Developing heroes and villains;
  • Advanced research techniques for writing;
  • Writing exposition and dialogue;
  • Maintaining a sustainable writing process.

Is Dan Brown’s MasterClass For Me?

Dan Brown’s MasterClass is an exceptional resource that I recommend, particularly to aspiring writers and those in the midst of the writing process. I found the concepts to be reinforcing, and some of them actually provided fresh perspectives on storytelling. Those interested in an immersive, methodical approach to storytelling can benefit from Dan’s MasterClass.

Our Evaluation

Total score: 8.7

Dan Brown as an Instructor
Uniqueness and Freshness
Structure and Quality
Student Engagement and Retention
Value for the Money


  • Concepts applicable to other writing forms
  • Practice ideas for every lesson
  • In-depth advice on the 3 Cs 


  • Reading some Dan Brown books is required
  • Spoilers from Dan’s books

Dan Brown MasterClass Teacher Review

Meet Dan Brown

Dan Brown, a globally renowned author, is known for his captivating blend of history, art, codes, and science in bestselling novels like The Da Vinci Code, Inferno, and Angels and Demons. Dan’s expertise lies in crafting suspenseful narratives, drawing readers into a complex world of secrets and intrigue. 

He has been in the field for over two decades since his debut book “187 Men to Avoid: a dating survival guide for Women” in 1995. Brown’s books have been translated into 57 languages and sold over 200 million copies worldwide. His MasterClass focuses on the techniques he’s perfected throughout his career, equipping students with tools to create their own compelling stories.

Dan Brown as a Teacher

Before his writing career, Dan Brown served on the faculty of Phillips Exeter Academy, teaching English and creative writing from 1993 to 1997. His early teaching experience no doubt enriches his MasterClass, as he brings his expertise as a best-selling novelist and also the pedagogical skills developed during his teaching career. This combination enables him to deliver complex writing concepts in an engaging and accessible way.

Dan Brown teaches writing thrillers in his MasterClass

As a seasoned novelist, Dan shares valuable insights and practical tips drawn from his own writing journey. His passion for storytelling and his genuine interest in nurturing the creativity of his students made him an effective and inspiring instructor.

About MasterClass

Since 2015, MasterClass has offered 180+ online classes, and the library continues to expand every month. MasterClass lets you improve your skills and expand your knowledge with the guidance of industry leaders such as Richard Branson, Martin Scorsese, Aaron Sorkin, Gordon Ramsay, and many others.

The video quality equals Hollywood movies, and every MasterClass course is carefully structured. But that’s not all. There are interactive assignments, MasterClass community activities, and an ever-growing video library to enjoy. The sheer amount of content can make it hard to begin. Cursums will help you to choose wisely.

Originality and Novelity of the Content

Writing advice from Dan Brown is scattered across various online platforms, interviews, articles, and forums. However, they fail to teach the essential elements of Brown’s narrative style systematically.

Dan Brown’s MasterClass addresses these issues by providing a comprehensive learning experience curated directly by Dan. In this Dan Brown MasterClass review, I will discuss how he covers important elements of writing and explains the process of creating gripping stories.

Although there are other MasterClass courses by acclaimed authors, like Novelist Margaret Atwood and nonfiction writers like Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Brown’s MasterClass stands out. While other courses, teaches broader storytelling, Dan Brown’s MasterClass is a uniquely enticing offer for learners interested in his specific style of narrative crafting symbology-laden thrillers.

Content and Structure of the Dan Brown MasterClass

Dan Brown’s MasterClass consists of 19 video lessons, each varying in length from 10 to 15 minutes. The longest video is titled building a story from the ground up, running for approximately 22 minutes. All video lessons can be completed in 3 hours and 47 minutes.

The course also includes assignments and additional reading in a workbook, significantly extending this timeframe. The time commitment for assignments can vary widely depending on each learner’s pace, but on average, it might add an extra 10-15 hours.

Dan’s advice covers many topics, including understanding the anatomy of a thriller, creating compelling characters, crafting the narrative, building suspense, and guiding learners through the editing process. He provides extremely practical advice, providing both novice and experienced writers with useful tools to improve their writing.

Essential Elements of a Thriller

1-2 Lessons Summary

Best-selling author Dan Brown warmly welcomes you to his MasterClass with an introductory lesson. He explains his role and journey as a thriller writer and how he envisions the relationship with his readers. He sets the groundwork for the rest of the course in the first lesson. 

Stephen Curry perfecting shooting and body position on MasterClass

Lesson two will familiarize you with Dan’s checklist for successful thrillers. He reveals the Three C’s principle for a thriller:

The Contract is a promise you make to readers, like revealing whether a character will achieve their goal.

The Crucible keeps characters focused on their paths, preventing them from straying.

The Clock creates a sense of urgency, like a deadline to solve a problem. These strategies help to keep your story fast-paced.

He also stresses that essential elements, such as suspense, plot structure, and well-drawn characters, form the skeletal structure of any gripping story. In the end, he advises you to read thoroughly and develop your own personal voice.

Idea Development and Character Creation

3-7 Lessons Summary

The next session’s lessons tap into the heart of story creation. Dan gives incredibly helpful advice on finding ideas for your thriller, teaching students to mine their surroundings for inspiration. He urges them to select a moral grey area to fuel their stories. 

Dan Brown emphasizes finding a moral grey area while writing thrillers

Dan also delves into the critical role location plays in a story, teaching students how to choose locations that generate suspense and integrate into the story.  

In the next lessons, we learn about Dan’s take on character development, especially complex heroes and villains. In the lesson Universal Character Tools, he shares secrets to making characters like Robert Langdon relatable, human, and integral to plot progression. 

Research For Your Thriller

8-9 Lessons Summary

Section three tackles the important step of research in writing. Dan emphasizes how research can help writers create a believable, authentic world that enthralls readers. It was interesting to hear Dan reveal what led him to choose Spain as a world for his novel Origin and his fair usage of creative licenses implied during the Da Vinci Code research, where Robert Langdon had to escape a bathroom. 

Dan shares his research tips giving examples of his Robert Langdon Series

He guides students through various research methods, stretching beyond simple reading and internet searches, and suggests ways to make the research process exciting and productive.

Crafting the Narrative and Building Suspense

10-15 Lessons Summary

In lesson 10, Dan reveals his process of crafting a story, guiding you on how to transform your idea into a captivating thriller. I strongly recommend you attempt writing exercises in Chapter 10 of the workbook and refer to the worksheet after taking this lesson.

Dan Brown then offers essential tips to hook readers from the first chapter, navigate the “middle muddle,” and effectively reveal plot and character developments. He discusses how to create suspense, demonstrating how to maintain an engaging pace that keeps readers intrigued.

Practical tools to build a story by Dan Brown in his MasterClass

Dan’s concrete tools for writing scenes and chapters are included in this section. He also teaches how to manipulate the narrative point of view. According to Dan, writers can create a stronger connection between readers and characters, adding depth and intrigue to their stories by mastering the use of POV. He then urges writers to use dialogue and exposition effectively to reveal several characters’ depths in the same conversation.

Editing, Rewriting, and Life as a Writer

16-19 Lessons Summary

Editing is a vital part of the writing process, and Dan addresses it by sharing his system for tracking edits. He shows you how to strengthen your story through revision. The final section is not just a practical guide to polishing a manuscript but also about navigating life as a writer. The lesson where he talks about the challenging journey of a writer is quite inspiring. 

Dan's advice on protecting the process, life as a writer

Dan encourages students to nurture persistence and resilience as writers, advising how to protect their creative process. He ends the course with a secret artifact revelation he promised in the introduction, leaving learners with a memorable takeaway.

Fast-Track Lesson Plan

To make the most out of Dan Brown’s MasterClass in 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 42 seconds, focus on these essential lessons:

2.The Anatomy of a Thriller10:30
3.Finding the Idea15:13
5.Creating Heroes and Villains12:51
10.Building a Story From the Ground Up21:33
11.Creating Suspense, Part 113:12
12.Creating Suspense, Part 211:35
13.Writing Chapters and Scenes15:10
16.Editing and Rewriting13:59
17.Protecting Your Process15:39

Engagement and Retention of Dan Brown MasterClass

The remarkable visual appeal of MasterClass videos works like a charm with the wisdom-infused teachings of Dan Brown, sparking maximum engagement. The production quality is superb, which is why I think MasterClass has the best online courses. The video lessons are well-structured, allowing learners to progress naturally from one thriller writing concept to another.

Dan shares a never-before-revealed secret and a unique artifact at the end of the class. This mysterious element is akin to the thrilling cliffhangers in his novels and serves as a compelling reason for learners to follow through to the final video lesson.

My Firsthand Experience With Dan Brown MasterClass

What I liked About Dan Brown MasterClass

Concepts Applicable To Other Writing Forms

Although tagged primarily as a thriller writing resource, Dan Brown’s MasterClass teachings extend beyond thrillers. The concepts he teaches, like character development, plot structure, and how to create suspense are universal to storytelling.

In the introductory lesson, Dan says that he hopes his online learning class will benefit all genres of writers, and he delivers that promise. Regardless of genre, many writers can apply his techniques and writing style to create compelling narratives.

Practice Ideas For Every Lesson

Practice makes perfect, and that’s undeniable, especially for writing! The workbook that accompanies this MasterClass is filled with writing exercises to help you put Dan Brown’s tips into action. You can sharpen your skills and cement your understanding of his techniques through these hands-on writing exercises. 

Plus, there’s a special section just for those of you ready to dive into the world of novel writing.

In-Depth Advice for Thriller Writers

In the class, Dan shares his suspense-building techniques, including the 3Cs of writing thrillers. All successful writers have their own rules, but what Dan does in this MasterClass is exceptionally well articulated and in-depth. Combined with workbook exercises, it will surely get you to start writing.

What I Didn’t Like about Dan Brown MasterClass

Reading Some Dan Brown Books Is Required

The MasterClass course is deeply rooted in Dan Brown’s work, which means reading his books gives an advantage to students. To fully understand the narrative techniques demonstrated in the course, it’s recommended that learners familiarize themselves with Brown’s key novels, including his thriller novel The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and Origin.

Contains Spoilers From Dan’s Books

Dan Brown’s MasterClass may contain spoilers as it uses his own novels as case studies to demonstrate suspense creation. This in-depth examination can reveal key plot lines, ideal for existing fans seeking deeper understanding but potentially spoiling the surprise for new readers. While wider examples from other writing styles would enrich the course, Brown primarily illustrates his lessons for young audiences through his own work’s practical applications.

Is Dan Brown MasterClass a Good purchase?

Price of Dan Brown MasterClass

The MasterClass pricing starts from $10 per month. This MasterClass subscription gives an all-access pass. It unlocks the rest of the incredibly valuable courses on the MasterClass taught by various field experts, including several other writing classes.

Individual (one device)$10 per month
Duo (two devices)$15 per month
Family (six devices)$20 per month

But if you are an aspiring writer or a fan of Dan’s work, buying or gifting the MasterClass subscription for his course alone is a worthwhile investment. You can take advantage of the all-access pass by exploring the library later. The course’s emphasis on crafting captivating narratives and creating compelling characters sets it apart from other writing courses.

Furthermore, MasterClass offers a diverse selection of courses at the same price point, extending well beyond Dan browns MasterClass. You can delve into various writing niches, such as novel writing with Nail Gaiman or improve your wriring skills with James Patterson’s course.

Does the Class Live Up to the Hype?

The Dan Brown MasterClass is undeniably worth the time and money invested. I started the course hoping it will clear the complexities of thriller writing, and the course lived up to my expectations with its insightful learning experience.

Advice from Dan Brown was deduced from his decades-long career, giving the ‘been-there-done-that’ feel to his words. This makes the lessons convincingly beneficial for anyone seeking to elevate their storytelling skills.

Dan Brown MasterClass: Ratings from Around the Web

Dan Brown’s books have topped the list of the best sellers of all time, making him a favored author of the masses. His MasterClass is definitely a treat for his fans, as shown in one of the several comments made on Facebook: 

Dan brown masterclass facebook review

Dan Brown’s Masterclass gathered positive reviews from Reddit users as well. They affirm the value provided by the course, revealing how it has helped them improve their skills:

Dan brown MasterClass review on Reddit

A Youtube user suggests Dan’s MasterClass to the readers. He gives an interesting comment on how Dan’s MasterClass trailer has clues like his novels which later unfold in the lessons:

A testimonial of Steph Curry's class reviews on Dan brown MasterClass youtube review

Essentials Used in the Dan Brown MasterClass

While I strongly recommend taking notes from Dan’s nuggets of wisdom while taking his MasterClass, there are no specific essentials required. Having read Dan Brown’s books, especially “The Da Vinci Code”, is a prerequisite to understanding some of his concepts when he uses the book as a reference during the class. Here are som other books by Dan Brown that I really liked:

  • Angels & Demons (2000)
  • The Lost Symbol (2009)
  • Origin (2017)

Courses Similar to Dan Brown MasterClass

Other Writing Courses on MasterClass

  • Neil Gaiman on the Art of Storytelling
  • Amanda Gorman on Poetry
  • Billy Collins on Reading and Writing Poetry
  • David Sedaris On Storytelling and Humor
  • James Patterson on Writing
  • Joyce Carol Oates on The Art of the Short Story
  • Margaret Atwood on Creative Writing
  • Salman Rushdie on Storytelling and Writing
  • Walter Mosley on Fiction and Storytelling

MasterClass Competitors


Udemy is one of the most popular online learning providers, with a massive choice of writing classes. I recommend looking into Udemy’s Creative Writing Masterclass is a great practical guide on writers’ motivations, grammar, style, publishing, and more.


Coursera is another big name in the online courses market, with quite a few on writing. Their Creative Writing Specialization delivered by professors from Wesleyan University even includes a certificate of completion.


Skillshare usually focuses on more practical courses, but their Storytelling 101 course is really compelling and conveniently breaks down storytelling into “4 C’s”. The material is as enjoyable as it is useful.

Dan Brown MasterClass: FAQ

Yes, Dan Brown teaches thriller writing in his MasterClass. He shares valuable tips on creating suspense, developing compelling characters, and creating intricate plots for your own novel. After taking the class, you will effectively learn how to write splendidly woven page-turners, maintaining their fast-paced rhythm. It’s an invaluable resource for aspiring thriller writers looking to master the art of suspense and captivate their readers.

In his best-selling thriller novel, The Da Vinci Code, Dan writes in the third person multi-point of view, letting readers peek into the minds of several characters, knowing what they see and hear. In his MasterClass, Dan Brown advises controlling the point of view (POV) in your narrative. He emphasizes the importance of choosing a consistent and effective POV that enhances the storytelling experience. 

Dan Brown’s class focuses on teaching storytelling rather than specifically writing techniques. He provides valuable insights and advice on developing intriguing plots and creating memorable characters. Dan’s emphasis on the art of storytelling helps writers enhance their ability to captivate readers and create engaging stories. However, he does give valuable insight into writing techniques which forms a significant part of his MasterClass.

Yes, in his MasterClass, Dan repeatedly references his most famous thrillers to illustrate various storytelling techniques. He shares insights into the process behind writing books like The Da Vinci Code and Origin, providing valuable lessons on plot structure, character development, and building suspense. These references offer valuable examples for aspiring writers to learn from.

Author: Bill Tremlon

Blogger | Life-long learner

Bill Tremlon

I’ve spent the last ten years passionately studying various online learning platforms. Udemy, MasterClass, Coursera, and Skillshare are the main ones, but I review lesser-known study tools as well. I test and analyze each course and lesson thoroughly before sharing my research.



Dan Brown’s MasterClass goes beyond thrillers.

Author: Bill Tremlon

Blogger | Life-long learner

Bill Tremlon