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welcome everybody to master class live it is a new offering they're providing to our members which allows them to interact directly with our instructors in light of the current climate it's a member only offering that we're actually
allowing everybody to access for the foreseeable future those of you who are not familiar with master class we are an online learning platform which enables anybody to learn from the best we have a catalogue of over 80 classes
with industry leaders it's like Martin Scorsese Gordon Ramsay Serena Williams and the list goes on my name is Davis I am a senior creative producer here at masterclass and joining us today is none
other than Dan Brown dan thank you for joining us great to see you again look it's a I had such a pleasure I'm so for I mean din needs indirect introduction but he is an incredibly talented and
successful writer he's also an all-around awesome guy and he we welcomed him the Masterclass family not too long ago with a class that he taught on writing thrillers and
Sedan I'd love to just kind of start off by asking you what your favorite part of having your class out in the world is well it's you know ever since the DaVinci Code came out I've had a lot of people asking me hey how do you write a
thriller and now I can just say go watch my master class and I can just go back to writing I don't don't need to spend days and days trying to explain whatever my theories may be on that yeah easy done not long dad we could help you with
that thank you very much so that actually kind of leads me into another question that I wanted to ask you and so as a producer I can't help but look at the comments in the classes that I make to see what people think and
it's been really awesome to see the impact that your class has had on everybody they seem to really love it and one of the things that they seem this the members seem to find particularly empowering is your thesis
around protecting the process and so I'd love not everybody has seen it but I love if you could just kind of give us a couple points on what that is but then I'm also interested in how that's translated and the time we find
ourselves in at this moment sure yeah I mean process is critical now more than ever by so I have a I have a little sign over my computer it says protect the process and the results will take care
of themselves and what I mean by that a lot of people think that writing a novel is 90 percent inspiration and 10 percent perspiration it's actually the reverse
writing a novel is about a routine it's one thing if you're writing a song or a short poem or creating a gourmet meal all of which take incredible skill but are over fairly quickly writing a novel
is a massive undertaking and in order to do it you need to do it as close to everyday as you can and so when I talk about the process I'm really talking about the really two things where you
write and when you write now when you write it's it's really up to you it doesn't matter most writers I know write in the morning I write in the morning at 4:00 a.m. every morning which may seem insane but that's a great time of day
because nobody's nobody's writing your email and nobody's bothering you um you can really write whenever you want but I would suggest that you make at the same time every day that you make it a time when you've got some energy in the tank
and you might be inspired the most important thing though really is is where you write creating that space in which to be creative and for me I have
no email no phone really no distractions and that for me is absolutely critical and some people say well you know I live in an apartment with three kids and you know it's very very hard to find a place
with no distractions I talked to a student shortly after the master class came out who met me at a book signing and asked me that and she was a young woman who was married and had a child had nowhere to go and she ended up going
down into the basement of their apartment building and sitting in her car with a laptop in the passenger seat with their coffee at five o'clock every morning for one hour and she's halfway through a novel and that that's about
protecting your process why should I I didn't know we were gonna get into process quite this fast but I brought something so for all of you this is to show how great a guy Davis is and how fun it was to work with master class
this is what they gave me as a gift as a parting protect the process and this actually is hanging not at the moment obviously but in my bedroom such as the first thing I
leave see as I leave my bedroom in the morning saying that's right protect the process I'm going to work right now well thank you thank you I'm so glad that it actually it didn't go in a closet somewhere you know great well
thank you and so I mean there are so many I can imagine that there are so many distractions now more than ever for people that are trying to be creative or do any work for that matter and I'm curious if you ever found
yourself in a situation like this before because it's like there's so many distractions it's easy to not be distracted by pain go to like push notifications when there's nothing crazy going on the world like you know well part of part of it is the amount of
media that's happening and I just tuned that out but but part of it on a more philosophical level is trying to convince yourself that what you're doing has any relevance I mean in the real world now I should tell you I don't I
don't know if I mentioned this in the class and in the master class but the when I was writing The DaVinci Code as Robert Langdon is arriving at Li T bings house Chateau Villette the Twin Towers
came down and I remember that very very clearly remembering the days and weeks after that trying to find find relevance I said look I'm moving imaginary
characters through an imaginary landscape they're people suffering there's this terrible thing that's happened how is this relevant and in a strange way and I think it's relevant to what we're going through right now you
need to almost see the chaos in the world as a kind of impetus to focus on your imaginary world the world right now is kind of chaotic and kind of a mess
and I consider myself lucky to spend a good portion of my day in a world that's that I get to control that's that's not quite so chaotic and it of course is for Robert Langdon but for the rest of us
it's not that chaotic so I would say you know at the risk of sounding cliche you know take lemons and make lemonade really let the chaos of the real world be the impetus to fold in on yourself
and spend some time in that imaginary world mm-hmm I'm some curious also like I've read recently that a lot of seminal works were created in times kind of just like these and like for example like
Shakespeare and sir Isaac Newton who makes an appearance in The DaVinci Code if I remember correctly made some of there's someone where sometimes like these may be curious if you have any thoughts on why that might be I think
that the skeptic in me would say like hey look at the time that Shakespeare and Isaac Newton were working you know the world was a pretty bad place and so just by nature of probability some great things are gonna happen during lousy
times the romantic in me would say yeah I think that there's something to be said for that that you know the stronger the wind blows the tougher the tree has to be one of the problems of writing in
a really comfortable setting is it's hard to commit yourself to any work it's just too comfortable and and this will sound very very strange but it is very honest in some ways it was easier for me to write when I was a starving writer I
I had a book deal and I had to get this book out or else I wouldn't be able to pay my rent and at some point you realize like wow okay I've been very fortunate I've had some success technically I don't have to write another book and you're sitting there at
4 o'clock in the morning saying what am i doing so I I I guess that the simplest way to put it is that it's easier to
write sitting on a bed of nails than sitting in a in a bed eating bonbons so fine don't try sitting on a bed of nails but find that middle ground where you say this is important to me and it's okay to
be a little uncomfortable and I should mention also this is I think this is something I mentioned the master class if not this this is a little bonus but I wrote a 100-page outlined for the da
Vinci Code and I was at the time I was visiting my parents in Florida and we weren't a small house my brother was there the nephews were there it was absolute chaos and I had nowhere to write and I ended up writing
outlined for The Da Vinci Code in my parents laundry room with laundry going beside me most of the time sitting on two milk crates with a laptop on an ironing board and that is a true story
and that's about saying look you want to protect your process you find that spot that can be private and don't take yourself too seriously if you got to sit on milk carton just do it that's the important thing is the process yeah and not to like
overstate it but there was a something that's coming to mind it's almost kinda like writing as though your life depends on it a little bit like that's kind of that's dramatic but you know make it important to yourself it has to be a priority and people say you know how do
I know if I'm good enough sometimes I don't know what to write I'm not worried if you don't know what to write I'm worried if you can't get up and put your put yourself in that chair every day at the same time and say this is important
to me mm-hmm another question which is I'd be curious to know if you think for the creative output that you think's gonna come out of this period we find ourselves in if you think that what's happening right
now I might find its way into it both like in an in an literal way like there might be more and more works about what's currently happening and there might be I was more interestingly if the climate might kind of seep and around
the edges of the art that's created all right I believe you're right I think that is definitely going to happen it's already happening in the novel that I'm working on um I'd love to write a novel about a virus but I already did it and you know a few years ago and Inferno I'm
not going to do it again but it's interesting I don't do much many zoom calls or Skype calls face-to-face and the fact that I've had to do so many has
seeped into the novel that I'm writing now and there is a character who is a red herring who really communicates with Langdon only through Skype mm-hmm or
zoom or what in one of these platforms and we start to realize like wait a minute how do we know he is where he really is there's just a there's a white wall behind and that is an idea that I
wouldn't have had if it weren't for this current environment and you know when it's novel finally comes out there is a there is a restaurant that closes because there is a pandemic
and the restaurant has to close and and this way a character was able to rent the space and those are two for immediate examples of something I'm writing right now that is influenced by what's happening around us well thank
you thank you for sharing that with us I that was I had another question which is like I know that you were you're currently working on another book and was curious if there was any light you might be able to shed I know that they are very secretive it's probably all
very hush-hush there will be no light nothing but darkness actually there is probably one there's probably one thing I can share and for anybody who's read my books out
there you know that Robert Langdon is a consummate bachelor single he likes his time alone but very conveniently at the beginning of every novel he meets a beautiful woman who is either a you know
a physicist or an entanglement scientist or a cryptologist somebody who has all of the skills that he needs to solve this mystery he's been very fortunate that way but at the beginning of this book he is no longer a bachelor he is in
a committed relationship and has been for a number of years he's head over heels in love and the woman with whom he is in love is a character from one of my previous novel and that's all I can say
that's entirely too much I'll probably get in trouble for saying that but well tell anybody does anybody watching I'm not sure anybody's out there I think there's probably a couple in there well great so
thank you and so for those of you are just joining us we have Dan Brown here for a master class live event and he totally just spilled the beans on his entire next it's a bummer you missed it
because he's never good yeah no but actually this a recording of this for those of you just join a recording of this will be available in just a few hours after we we end so you will have a chance to kind of backtrack and take a
look if you like so I love to stop asking questions myself and open the door to the master class members who are what this is all about right on what's exciting about what we're doing with you is that this is the first time that
we're ever inviting your members the members of your class to join us live and ask their questions face to face or virtually okay and so we put out we put the word out to your members just a few days ago we're gonna be doing this and
we got a ton of responses people are really enthusiastic about this opportunity so that's what we're gonna do right now and also for everybody at home and in both Dan and everybody home this is the first time we're doing it please bear with us if there are any
technical issues we're still working out the kinks but we hope you enjoy it so first up we have Jin who's gonna do who's joining us all the way from Singapore mmm-hmm what time is it in
Singapore we will ask Jen yeah we'll have to ask her hi Jeff I did I am diggie from Singapore it's actually 8 p.m. isn't too bad idiom okay well good morning yeah
morning so I really enjoyed your class thank you so much I found it really practical and useful and my question to you is you know now that your you've so many bestselling novels under your belt if there was anything you wish you could
unlearn from about writing wish that I could unlearn about writing okay that is a that is a great question I've never been asked that question okay yes there
is one thing one one thing I have learned in the process of writing novels is that the first 50 pages are the hardest and they're they're really not a lot of fun but books are much more fun to write after the first 50 pages and I
wish I could unlearn that because knowing how hard it is to write the first 50 pages I really procrastinate in starting a novel I research a little more than I probably should so if I could unlearn that I would
probably write a little bit faster wonderful thank you thank you Jing so next up we have another international person joining us well international too you and I in the United States so this
is Slavic and he's joining from Poland hey damn hello Slovak hey mr. Richards I am in Poland so of course so nice to meet you
my question is what would be your advice to less experienced writers who think that all stories have already been told and no story actually is fresh and
interesting still Wow well I the first thing I would say is this not very experienced writer has a very good sense of story because you are absolutely correct every story has been told and as
an example I always say well look at the books of Ian Fleming James Bond or the movies if you haven't read the books we all know James Bond is going to get the girl and defuse the bomb and kill the
villain the story's been told a hundred times we don't worry about whether or not that's gonna happen we worry how it's going to happen so what I would say is first of all you're right whatever
story you're writing has been told in this in the book Inferno there's a virus that gets out and you know we'll the hero stop the world from ending and of course we know Langdon will save the day
somehow people read the book to find out how he saves the day so I would encourage this writer if it happens to be you not to worry if the story in its
basic form seems like it's been done because you're right it has been done what you get is a template on which to add your creativity in your imagination that's the fun part you say like I've got to get this character from here to
here we all know he's gonna get there make it an interesting wonderful pathway put as many obstacles in the way as possible and find the most creative ways around those obstacles that you possibly can and good luck and you should go to
bed now thank you Slovak not actually Slovaks question brought something else up for me as well which is there's so there's a toolkit that everybody writer every writer has which is their own unique creative voice as well you know
it's it's kind of what separates Saving Private Ryan from inglourious basterds for example you know I mean anyway so now we have Malika who's joining us from India hi
Dan it's such a pleasure speaking to you I've loved reading your books and I certainly enjoyed your master class and learned a lot which is immensely useful so thank you very much my question to you today is if I were writing
nonfiction in the format for thriller and I wanted to introduce the elements you've spoken about like the three C's that would make Trillo more interesting or make a thriller work how how much creative Liberty do I have as a writer
when I'm working with nonfiction historical nonfiction to be specific and I want to adding elements like Sabrina in suspense the press time in all the elements that you've spoken about but I'm writing nonfiction essentially how
much creative Liberty do I have for writers I have a very succinct guideline be honest you have to be honest with your reader you can do whatever you want
in your book as long as you're being honest if you're writing historical fiction and taking liberties you make that clear whether you do it in the way that you're writing or you do it with a note to your
readers or you do it with the fact that you say like look I'm writing a novel based on history now if you're writing history factual nonfiction history you
have to be very very accurate absolutely accurate or else you'll lose all credibility what I as far as it's for if you're writing history and you want to incorporate a contract a crucible a
ticking clock all of these things you have one very very important decision to make what story are you choosing to tell if you want to write a piece of history
that reads like a thriller I think and you and you are bound by what actually happened you better choose a pretty thrilling story or else it's gonna be very very hard to do because
you've tied your hands being unable to sort of expand on what actually happened so choose a good topic and be honest with your reader and then so for those at home which are you able to give us
some of the bullet points of what the these are your yeah I always thought I'd talk about the three C's when I'm talking to writing students and even to myself that the three C's are the clock
the crucible and the contract now the clock is really just it means time pressure a ticking clock you know the simplest example is angels and demons
there's antimatter in the Vatican and at midnight it's gonna blow up very very simple but we know that there's time pressures relying in has to hurry you and when you reach really to find out there's always time pressure may not be
as trite and obvious as antimatter blowing up at midnight on the nose that that's a very specific ticking clock it may be hey this person is leaving town tomorrow and needs to decide whether or
not he's going to stay with the woman he's just met or go back to his family that's Bridges of Madison County and a different kind of thriller always a ticking clock the crucible essentially
is a box that encloses the reaction and the characters and doesn't let them run away and as an example I always say the the end of the novel jaws by Peter Benchley actually it's the end of the
movie I'm referring to specifically where the boat is sinking the shark is coming toward the boat there in the middle of the ocean without a radio they can't run away it is a crucible and they have to deal
with the monster coming after them if for example they've been a lifeboat with a motor that they could jump in and just drive away suddenly you don't have a thriller you have a bad scene so can
compact really restrain your characters and make them face their demons hmm the other is the contract contract just means a promise to your readers every page should be a promise to your reader
and as a thriller writer really as as any writer hmm you should be constantly reminding your reader I know something you don't know and if you turn the page I promise I will tell you I promise
whatever I'm withholding will eventually be laid bare and if I do my job correctly it will be laid bare in a way you don't see coming you're going to you're gonna be excited and surprised by the way it happens so those are the
three C's and I feel like every good story thriller and or non thriller needs some element of all of those beautiful thank you so much appreciate it and so
now we have Tracy hi Dan I'm really excited to be part of this masterclass live and my question is about first person third person and point of view can you talk a little bit more about how
you maneuver this in your writing other authors talk about how it's hard to change point of view in the middle of the story but your books seem to make it look effortless and also do something that you think about during your outline
or do you wait til your first draft to start playing with the point of yard I love you for asking me about point of view thank you a point of view is so critical and you're right people say it's very very hard to move in and out
of point of view the answer is yes it is hard to move in and out which is why I never do it if you have read my novels you will see that every single chapter is told from a very specific point of
view one of the characters I choose a character and I stick with it for the whole chapter now and then very rarely I will have to change points of view halfway through a chapter and you will see there is a section break with little
asterisk saying this is a different section so what what withholding point of view can do or restraining it to a single character is it lets you play fair with the reader and withhold
information so if you're in omniscient narrator and you're floating from one head to the next two things happen one sit one is you kind of neat if somebody's holding a secret you kind of owe it to the reader if you can see
inside that person's head to tell them the secret so when somebody has a secret I write from the other two guys point of view such that we don't get that yet okay so the other danger in writing
omniscient narrator and just sort of floating in and out is that the readers experience is very disjointed they feel like they're hovering over the action if you and your own writing decide I am right
this chapter from this character's point of view and you withhold it only to what that character can see and know the reader has the experience of being behind that character's eyes and being
part of that character so the question is how do you choose which character simple rule of thumb is whichever character has the most to lose that's the one you write from whoever's in danger
whoever's just discovered something upsetting whoever's most emotionally stimulated that's a good place to start not a perfect rule I often end up writing scenes from multiple points of view trying trying one you know I'll
write the scene maybe from three different characters points of view just to find out which way it works best great question Thank You Tracy so next up we have a CL
joining us from Indiana ICL hello hi Dan right there um your master Pass has
changed my writing for the better exponentially wonderful in your class specifically life as a writer you talked about your first book signing and how it
didn't quite go as you had but I'd like to back up just a little bit earlier in a writer's career for my question I understand not every author can reach Dan Brown's status but for those of us
whose goal it is to do that how do we stay motivated after years of rejection from agents and publishers and is there ever a point where we should just accept
that maybe we don't possess that caliber of talent thank you I'm gonna answer this all in Reverse really fascinating question is there a moment that you should accept you don't have the talent
the only moment that I would ever accept someone doesn't have the talent is the moment they say you know what I can't force myself to sit down and write if you can get up sit down and feel
motivated to write you are we're near the end of your ability it's funny doing this master class really taught me that writing is a learned process as I put together the curriculum
with Davis I thought like well all of these things that I'm sharing in this class are things I learned along the way I didn't I didn't just sort of I wasn't born knowing this I learned it by making mistakes by reading writers who do it
much better than I do and say like wow I love the way they do that I want to pull that into what I do so how do you stay motivated you stay motivated the same way a violinist who's learning scale stays motivated I want to do this better
tomorrow I want this chapter to read better tomorrow I want to find a more interesting way to get the person from here to there that's how I stay motivated at the end of every novel I'm
like oh how could I possibly write something that has that many twists and turns again because I'm gonna have to do it a little better next time and you take it as a challenge and and you you
you become inspired to to just get better and better and I will tell you as far as publishers and editors and agents and all of that we live in an amazing time ten years ago if you wanted to
share your writing with the world you needed to convince an agent and the publisher and probably you know a staff of publishers to take a chance on you
invest in you and publish your book now with the world we live in you have an international publishing deal on the computer that you're sitting in front of right now and the computer used you work on you can share your writing through
blogs through through all sorts into electronic publishing through you can even say you know what I'm gonna take a few hundred dollars and I'm gonna print 50 copies of my book and I'm gonna give
them to friends and I want to hear what they think about it and you know what the the way so many writers have gotten started is to self publish go to your local bookstore and say like cannot can you just take these on consignment
become your own publicist try to develop a little bit of a groundswell because when you do publishers will take notice if you start selling a lot of ebooks or you know go back to print your next 500 books because they've sold publishers will
take notice so let yourself be inspired by just getting better okay I it is not easy and trust me you know you say not everybody gets to Dan Brown status well there are days that I don't feel like
somebody who's written a bunch of books that sold a few copies I feel like someone who has no idea which way is up I'm facing a blank page what do I do and that's the moment you sort of step back and you say no no way I'm protecting my
process I'm just doing it better than I did yesterday good luck don't give up thank you CL alright next
up we have Bobbi joining us dan how you doing hey Bobbi hi um so I'm big into plot twists in my writing and I was just curious what aspects of life do you use
as inspiration for twists in your stories oh well I use I use a lot of travel and a lot of reading I I like the real world inspires me when I travel and
I for example see the peseta that leads from castle st. Angelo to to the Vatican and I find out it was used by by hopes to escape their enemies I say wow what a great thing to use an anomaly and I will
use that as a twist how do you get out of castle st. Angelo and back to the Vatican well that's the tunnel you're going to use when I was writing origin I had decide Oh know if you've read origin but there's a there's a villain
in it who of course Langdon has to dispense with eventually I had written the scene where lying and kills him and I was back at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and saw something I hadn't seen on one of my first visits and it
was this terrifying spiral staircase and I thought wow that's that's a much more interesting death and the one I've already written so I went back and rewrote the scene to die there so my
inspiration is the real world if you can't travel you know read as much as you can we're all sort of internet traveling at the moment but you know thanks to technology we have the luxury to do that and that is
that a painting behind you or it's very cooler quilt what is that okay very cool thank you very much all right next up we
have Cindy joining us you you hi I think my back hey you look really familiar are you done yet you that's funny
and it is the the luxury of live television television quote-unquote yeah all right well I guess we'll give Cindy
another moment yeah yeah and it could also be that biggest fan here knowing of
your writing bed of your class so thank you so much for being with us today means a lot thank you thank you so I know in the past you've mentioned using aversion therapy as a way of
jump-starting creativity so I'm wondering if you have any other tricks or exercises that you do or practice to jolt yourself back into creativity and imagination yeah you know well what I
said earlier I read a ton and I travel a lot and I'm stimulated by the real world but as far as tricks I hope this doesn't sound like I'm dodging the question because I'm absolutely not I think that
nature abhors a vacuum I think that the way you spark creativity is to empty your mind I meditate every day I take long walks in the woods with my dog who fortunately is very quiet and doesn't
talk to me and I am able to just empty my mind and it is really in those moments of nothing here that ideas jump in I find it very very hard to watch the
news read other novels or read nonfiction to be stimulated with ideas I don't read any fiction when I'm writing I would I would encourage you to
empty your mind as much as you can which is hard right now just to turn off the television you know meditate or just whatever whatever should walk the beach walk the streets whatever whatever calms you down
and lets you just be blank you'll be amazed what happens to an empty mind it will it doesn't like being empty it will it will make something to fill itself up
so thank you Cindy send you with an S thank you very much Sindy with an S yes sir alright next up
we have Wally from Arizona hey Wally there we go hi Dan thank you so much for being here I'm enjoying this immensely my pleasure
hey I have a question it's it's really another question about protecting your process when you get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to start writing again do you start by reading what you read what
you wrote the previous day and if so how do you resist the temptation to start editing that and and making changes to it and get caught up in that rather than
moving forward all right you speak from experience okay you and I have the same problem and a lot of writers have this problem and it's called reading what you already wrote is easier than writing something new that's what the problems
come so I have a lot of tricks because I absolutely fall into that and if I go back too far I'll just start editing what I wrote yesterday and the problem with editing immediately is that you really don't have perspective you need a
few days to come back to something before you can truly edit it because if you don't what you do is you start editing and after half an hour on one paragraph you realize it's exactly what you wrote thirty minutes ago you've changed it and gotten all the way back
to where you started so it's just it's sort of a futile exercise a couple couple tips I can offer you one is I call it setting the table for breakfast when I leave work which is you know 10
11 12 on a good day maybe one o'clock I will write the paragraph that starts whatever I'm writing the next day such that when I arrive to work the next
morning the engines are they running and I don't sort of have this tent this temptation to go back and look farther back you know oftentimes it will be the end of a chapter and I'll start with the opening paragraph the new chapter
chapter 10 yes it needs to be edited you'll do that in a few days just leave it alone you're in Chapter 11 and this the engines running and if you've written a good opening paragraph you're reading like oh good okay here we go you
know know which way to go the other thing I do which I'm I don't think I've ever admitted this but you asked us such an honest question I'm going to give you a very honest answer it is hard to resist going back and reading so what I
sometimes do I write with white text on a blue background if the text has gotten to the point where it's pretty good and I find that I'm reading it over and over I select all of it and I make it blue so
I can't see it so that's that is embarrassing for someone who has written a few books I should be able to resist that temptation but sometimes I have to do that if I just find myself going back
over so learn how to use colors on your word processor and just trick yourself into thinking it's not there all right
next we have Sarah from California today actually some of your advice is really helpful in my day job so I really
appreciate especially like trusting I train horses so very important the process is very important and it's easy to forget sometimes so very helpful my question is your novels are very
conspiracy based you personally believe in conspiracy theories I'm I'm more of a skeptic I for example don't believe UFOs are visiting us I mean I may be proved wrong and proven wrong on that one but I
tend to be more of a skeptic I do believe however that there are hidden reasons that things happen I I think that that the news that we hear is
really not even close to the whole story and that's I guess we think of conspiracy as a bad thing conspire the word conspire means to breathe together people coming together in a hushed way
and achieving something I think that happens all the time behind the scenes I don't think it's always a bad thing so yes I believe I believe the conspiracy occurs a lot of the most
popular conspiracy theories I quietly disregard and and don't don't give much credence to I hope I've answered your question you sound like you might be a conspiracy theorist so I'm a little bit
okay I'm a little bit more of a skeptic so alright I'm Sarah so that wraps up the the live student question segment of our master class live we don't question
yeah they did really yeah and some of them were doing it at two o'clock in the morning so that's no that's impressive fans all over the place it's great okay so we do have a couple questions from
other students that are not able to join us that we also wanted to run by you okay and also for everybody out there who is joining has just joining us for joining us just a little bit ago we're doing a master class live with Dan Brown
and he is talking about all things writing writing thrillers all that great stuff so the next question we have came from Sophia and she said successfully
misdirecting readers with red herrings can be really challenging there's something you do very well what is your philosophy on the best way to get readers looking in the wrong direction well that is certainly your job as a thriller writer I mean you always want
people looking in the wrong direction you want the truth to hit them on the side of the head and they don't see it coming until maybe the line before so red herrings are absolutely critical
most thrillers involve the question like who's behind this like like who's the killer who's the person pulling the strings who's this puppet master that's making everything happen I before I answer the question I'll just mention I
know I mentioned it's a master class but I just have to tell the story in DaVinci Code for those of you who've read it there's a character bishop aringarosa and he looks guilty for an enormous part
of the novel and i should and he is very much a red herring and i should tell you that his last name a ringa roses built up of two italian words a ringa meaning heron herring and Rossa meaning
he's literally Bishop red herring and I always thought I don't know I mean you do all sorts of crazy stuff to amuse yourself in a 2 or 3 year writing process I always figured I'd change his name at the end and I just sort of liked
it and I left it as far as creating red herring uh I'll just speak very specifically to that the best way to do it is never to underestimate your reader your readers are very smart people and
they will be reading a novel thinking okay so the author just shone a spotlight on this person saying you know and a person's acting suspicious that is the person the author wants me to think
it is that's a red herring but I'm a smart reader I'm not gonna buy that you have to create a second character it's over here that maybe in a stretch could have done it but you don't really see
the motivation you're not sure but the SmartMeters gonna say that's the guy that's the guy I'm not supposed to see coming and then you have to create a third character who really did it but
nobody imagined and it just comes out of left field now it's absolutely critical that you lay the groundwork such that when the reader finds out who the red herring is they don't say what they say oh my god I can't believe I didn't see
that it was right in front of me the whole time you have to be fair to the reader you have to give them not enough clues and enough backstory that it's not a character that just sort of appears out of nowhere it's somebody been we've
been dealing with so that's absolutely critical it has to be the the Hercule Poirot scene and all the Agatha Christie books where he says let me tell you what really happened and and she does it so
well that you go like of course that's what happened it's the only way it could have happened why didn't I see it mm-hm that's the job and so I'm curious if we're there any examples that you can remember where you were you were rereading and you knew this is the
person that was the ultimate villain let's say and you really but the groundwork is just not there like or much like this is way too evident this is the spotlight person yes I don't get
too much away but Origen was very much that if you've for those of you read Origen there's a number of characters that are very diff kinds of characters one in particular it's very different and creating that
book had a number of red herrings had maybe three and if I did my job correctly and for most of the readers I've talked to they were surprised by the twist at the end and so I thought of course that's how it happened so I feel
but in the process of writing that I wanted it was such a big twist I wanted to be absolutely sure that I was being fair to the reader such that when I delivered it the reader would say oh my god of course that and that not matte
and that's why we have editors who can go through and say like hey look you tipped your hat a little too far I figured it out in chapter 27 you don't want it till chapter 100 this was the only moment I thought oh my god we need
to take that out because the smart readers gonna put it together too soon it is very important to have perspective on your work and you get that in only two ways one is taking a lot of time
away from it and coming back do not read on a computer print it out on paper the way somebody's going to read it take it out of your office take it take it to the park take it to the beach wherever you're going and read it as if you've
never read it before that's one way the other way is to ask a friend or parent or an editor or where a child you think is smart whoever it is get somebody else to read it and ask them hey who do you
think did it and why yeah and they will give you very very good clues as to whether you're hitting the nail too hard or you're missing entirely yeah and it also sounds like there's a little bit of a meteor not overriding it but when you're first starting out making sure
that the clues are there socially they can be followed and then you can whittle away a little bit maybe this one need this one exactly right very much the Michelangelo
way way of sculpting you start with a big block and you take things away it's much easier to take things away than it is to add things and I always overwrite you know an eighth page chapter my first
draft is eight pages and my final draft is four pages always always taken away so the next question is about it's a Dan Brown special so it's from Ned and it seems
like almost every one of your chapters ends on finger how do you keep them reading up from becoming redundant or stale well I think the easiest way to answer that is
is I I'm always trying to get out of a scene before it's over you know good good movie directors they say they come into a scene late and they get out early meaning rather than a scene in a novel
where two people are walking down the street and they come together and say like hi how are you and you gets all the pleasantries and five minutes into conversations they say what you you were at that party you start with the line what you were at that party and and you
know we've been talking for five minutes and I just learned it and boom you're right into the action the same for the for the ending for cliffhangers rather than tying things up in a nice little bow you you get out before the bow is
tied up such that the person says oh well I've got this half open package and I'm gonna need to actually turn the page to the next chapter and find out what happens and then they get to the next chapter and it's actually tying up the
bow from a chapter three times ago and so you get these parallel plot lines that are woven together such that there's always something you don't know you're simultaneously solving a problem and posing a problem you don't want to
frustrate your reader by having too many cliffhangers and not solving problems mm-hmm want them to feel like things are clear and they're making progress but you're constantly introducing new questions as you go or else things do
start to feel stale that's really interesting I hadn't really ever thought about because you do think about the cliffhanger but you don't necessarily think about like the preceding content quite as much and so it's almost like there's an art to cliffhangers which is one crafting the right one but also to
having enough kind of like tension and release leading up to them so that they remain satisfying all right i I grew up my mom was a professional musician and I
grew up as a musician spent a lot of time making music and studying music and when I and also I did a lot of creative writing as a kid and we didn't have a TV actually when I grew up my parents didn't want to have a TV they wanted me
there to read yeah so you know and they said I said this is crazy I've got imaginary friends you know this this is I'm a very change trial and now they now they said well it worked out okay so now now I talk to my imaginary friends every day
and I write stories but and you just got to remind me what we're talking about cliffhangers with attention release music writing books is a lot like writing music good stories even good
paragraphs have tension and release in the same way that a musical line will ask a question and then give an answer writing is about temple about keeping the right pace about burying the pace a
great symphony has fast parts and slow parts changing the tambour the orchestration all of that is very very similar to music and so the idea of a cliffhanger is a musical leading tone
it's that thing that makes you go like oh give me the tonic give me the give me the resolution of this chord but just not giving it to them yet mm-hmm wonderful so our last question is from
Phoebe she said during her horse you entered and exited through it appeared to be a secret passageway through a bookshelf is this really in your home and what if so where does it lead Wow
that's the last question yeah that's a pretty direct question yes it is really in my home in fact in fact it is right behind me let's see if I can right there behind
Simon on the bottom and I guess I could we're all girlfriends I could just take you through that door right I can show you where we where it leads if you earn we're out of time yeah
that's suspense I mean we'll do it again and next time we'll go in now I mean yeah I'm even more intrigued I'll be there I'll be back next chapter for sure I just I'm not sure I can get through it
no it's it's all right I think by 5:00 and you're probably plugged in and all the ring guys yeah I think would be a fiasco we've had such a nice time but next time next time for sure I'll be unplugged and we'll we'll journey into
the other dimension that is behind that door great great great well um so let's bring that's the end of our live session with you Dan is there anything else you want to say to our people watching you know what I guess I would just say that if
you are not a member of master class it is the most wonderful concept and execution of a teaching platform that I've ever seen and I'm a terrible chef
for example I'm an awful cook but I appreciate food and I've watched some cooking classes not to learn how to cook but to appreciate what I'm eating I've watched some athletic classes not
because I'm a great athlete but because I'm fascinated by what it takes to get your body to do some of these things that people can do so I guess it was especially now in this world where we're home a lot more and and our our
connection with the outer world is is virtual you know I don't mean to pitch your picture platform but I'm just so impressed with what you guys do and I've so enjoyed the other classes you have I
would encourage people to get out there and learn some things that they haven't known about and who knows you know you might end up watching a cooking class and writing a a thriller about a chef in
a restaurant who you know whatever it is so let the classes inspire you and and inspire your writing in in the process well thank you thank you so much we are honored and it's I mean in such high
praise coming from you we really appreciate it so now just before we probably take off as a reminder master class slide will take place every Wednesday so be sure to tune in next Wednesday we are being
joined by the iconic interior designer Kelly were slur that has taken place Wednesday April 22nd at 5:00 p.m. Pacific and finally for the members of masterclass who signed up for the
thriller writing class discussion that's gonna be following this we can't wait to dive in deeper and keep the conversation going thank you to Dan once again and thank you everybody else for joining
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