If you’ve been trying to decipher the mystery behind writing great fiction, let acclaimed mystery writer Walter Mosley be your guide. Actually, Mosley, who this year became the first Black man to receive the National Book Award’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for lifetime achievement in writing has written far more than mysteries since publishing his first novel, Devil in a Blue Dress in 1990. In his still-ongoing career, he has published more than 50 works across multiple genres, including science-fiction, young adult, erotica, plays, screenplays, nonfiction, and two books on the craft of writing.
Launching Thursday, December 3, Mosley brings all that experience and expertise to MasterClass with a series on fiction and storytelling for the popular educational platform.
In his new class, Walter will share tips on how to structure a story, the mechanics of putting together character, plot, and compelling dialogue, and how writing and fiction can help you better understand the world. Adding an important voice to the timely conversations around race and representation, Walter shares how he’s used writing as a device to illuminate racial issues, uplift Black men as heroes and protagonists, and provide insight into how anyone can use fiction as a means of personal discovery.
The resulting series is more than Six Easy Pieces (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves). In 13 lessons, Mosley gives real talk coupled with some requisite tough love on the writing process, some of which he also shared with The Root for an upcoming episode of our literary podcast, The Root Presents: It’s Lit!
“People always come up to me when I’m doing a reading or an event, and they say, ‘Well, how do you write a novel?’” he explained when asked what attracted him to the MasterClass format. “And it’s not that much to write a novel, but it’s a little bit too long for me to just sit down and say, you know what I’m saying? You have to make more of a little bit more of a commitment than that. So the two books I wrote I think are really useful, and also, the MasterClass is also a thing where people can listen and learn and kind of, you know, engage. And then, I think if I did it right...then people will be able to learn about writing, and I know a lot about writing and also about talking about writing,” he chuckled. “I know a lot about talking about writing.”
Mosley’s path to becoming a bestselling writer didn’t begin in elite graduate programs; he began taking writing courses in his mid-30s. Thirty years and countless accolades later, he’s still no elitist when it comes to the craft of writing.
“Writers are writers,” he told us. “You know, writers can be hanging out on the street corner in Atlanta....prisons are filled with writers. People just writing their stories down, you know. And maybe it’s just letters; a lot of people writing novels; a lot of people writing poetry.”
Regardless of the genre, Mosley maintains the true power of writing isn’t in the finished product.
“I do think that everybody should write a novel,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if everybody publishes a novel; I don’t care if they do. But even if you don’t, to write a novel opens yourself to yourself. And I think that’s really important.”
Walter Mosley’s course on Fiction & Storytelling is available on MasterClass now.