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The Best MasterClasses for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers

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MasterClass is a unique streaming service featuring lessons on everything from creativity and film with David Lynch, space exploration with astronaut Chris Hadfield, wilderness survival with Jessie Krebs, and more eclectic subjects. 

If you’re a writer searching for online resources you can explore independently and at your own speed, MasterClass has a fantastic library of lessons waiting for you.

Below are the four best MasterClasses for sci-fi and fantasy writers. Happy learning!

N.K. Jemisin

N. K Jemisin’s class, which launched in April 2021, is our pick for the best MasterClass for speculative fiction writers.

Jemisin is the award-winning author of the Inheritance Trilogy,  the Broken Earth Trilogy, and The City We Became. With the Broken Earth books she became the first person to ever win a Best Novel Hugo Award for each title in a trilogy, and she’s currently adapting the same trilogy for the big screen. Happily, her MasterClass lives up to the expectations set by her impressive resume. 

Jemisin’s course focuses on worldbuilding, the role of research in speculative fiction, the use of psychology in character-building, and managing the intersection between the fictional worlds we create and real-life social justice issues. 

Throughout the approximately four-hours-long course, Jemisin leads viewers through exercises that make the video lesson format feel surprisingly interactive and intimate. 

She also introduces students to a wealth of resources. Some of those, such as the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop or Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward's book Writing the Other, might already be familiar to students. However, many of the suggestions for finding community, accessing funds for research, and more resources, will likely be new. Regardless, it’s incredibly helpful to have all these great assets mentioned in a single class. 

Ultimately, Jemisin’s MasterClass is an empowering, practical guide to creating magic. Like the other MasterClasses on this list, the lessons also come with a workbook. The book for this course is 34 pages long. 

RELATED: The Best Books on Writing by Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers

Neil Gaiman

Another MasterClass teacher who hardly needs an introduction, Neil Gaiman is the iconic writer behind works such as Coraline, American Gods, Stardust, Sandman, and many more beloved works of fiction.

In his MasterClass, Gaiman shares the creative process and inspiration behind some of these titles to demonstrate how he harnesses personal experience and truth in fiction to create compelling characters and worlds. 

With a focus on short stories, novels, graphic novels, and comic books, Gaiman's class offers inspiration for writing emotionally honest stories amidst rejection, writer's block, and other obstacles. The class also offers helpful advice for writers looking to develop their own voice, and to recognize their own unique skills and 'bad' habits. 

Gaiman's MasterClass is four hours and 48 minutes long, and has a 94-page workbook. 

R.L. Stine

The evil genius behind the Goosebumps and Fear Street series, R.L. Stine's MasterClass empowers new writers to have fun and surprise themselves with their writing. 

Although the lessons are primarily focused on middle grade and YA fiction, 'Bob'—as he encourages students to think of him—offers recommendations for idea generation and approaching a first draft that are relevant to all writers. 

Much of the class focuses on using experience and memory, married with imagination, to create stories that allow the author to play freely while keeping readers hooked. Horror fans in particular will appreciate Stine's advice on the boundaries between humor and horror, and how scary books exploit humanity's desire for control. 

Stine's class is nearly four hours long, and comes with an outstanding, 63-page workbook. 

Margaret Atwood

Canadian author and poet Margaret Atwood has won an abundance of prizes and accolades, from the Arthur C. Clarke Award, to the Booker Prize, to the prestigious Order of Canada merit. 

Although not all of Atwood's novels are speculative fiction, some of her most esteemed works—including The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx & Crake, and The Testaments—certainly are. 

In her MasterClass, Atwood uses The Handmaid's Tale as a speculative fiction case study to explore revision, crafting compelling openings, utilizing and acknowledging time in one's fiction, and more. 

The class is three hours and 43 minutes long, and comes with a 92-page workbook. 

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is a National Book Foundation Medal winner, the recipient of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Edgar Award, numerous NAACP Image Awards, and many other accolades. 

He's perhaps best known for his historical mysteries featuring Black detective Ezekiel Rawlins, but is also the author of numerous speculative fiction books, and is currently collaborating on a comic series about Marvel's The Thing. In other words, even though Mosley's class doesn't focus on speculative fiction specifically, his techniques and recommendations can be easily applied to a number of genres.

Mosley's MasterClass is two hours and 18 minutes long. It offers a clear, 10-step plan for improving one's writing, and uses his novel Devil in a Blue Dress as a case example to explore concepts such as story versus plot, revisions, and more.

Throughout the 13 lessons, Mosley also shares the power fiction has to not only help writers enrich their own lives and clarify their values, but also to interrogate vital issues such as race and identity. Mosley, the child of an African-American man and a Jewish woman, directly confronts race in his own work, and offers compelling insight on exploring representation and history through writing. 

Although Mosley's class does not feel as 'interactive' as some of the other classes on this list, it stands out for its inclusion of a poetry lesson, in which Mosley explains how he uses poetry to reshape how he thinks about prose.

This MasterClass also comes with a 14-page workbook.