Salman Rushdie is one of those iconic authors that you’re familiar with, even if you haven’t read his books. He is known for his satire and commentary on religion, identity, and politics, and his novels Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses are true masterpieces of magical realism.
As a young writer, I was very excited to take this class and learn from Mr. Rushdie – I wanted to discover more about his ways of finding ideas, structuring stories, crafting characters… And that’s exactly what this MasterClass promised to teach me.
But did the course meet my expectations, and did it benefit me as a writer?
Let’s find out.
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What is the Salman Rushdie MasterClass?
“Salman Rushdie Teaches Storytelling and Writing” is a course provided by MasterClass, an online learning platform known for its high-quality video lessons taught by some of the top experts in their respective fields.
This writing course is taught by Salman Rushdie, an Indian-born writer best known for his novels Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children, Shame, and East, West. In most of his novels, Rushdie combines magic realism with historical fiction, with a focus on cultural identity, religion, migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, and various political subjects.
In his MasterClass, Salman Rushdie looks back on his beginnings and tells a story of why and how he became a writer. He also reveals his techniques on how to structure a novel, conceive characters, and find your own narrative style, with a strong focus on surrealism.
That said, while this is a perfect course for those interested in the genre, thanks to Salman’s numerous writing tips and guidelines, it’s actually suitable for anyone who wants to improve their writing skills.
The course features 19 lessons with a duration of 4 hours and 17 minutes in total. The course is not particularly extensive compared to some other MasterClasses, but it covers almost everything you need to know to start writing your first novel.
Who is Salman Rushdie?
Born in Bombay, India, Salman Rushdie is an American-British-Indian novelist and one of the most respected literary figures of our time.
He is also considered a rather controversial figure. It all began after he published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, in 1988. Due to the major backlash from certain Muslims and the Iranian government, Rushdie had to go into hiding and receive police protection. In 2022, he was attacked as he prepared to give a lecture in New York. Luckily, he managed to recover, and he is still writing.
As a fiction writer, Salman Rushdie is known for combining magical realism and historical fiction, as well as his satirical approach to religion and politics. He also writes about migration, cultural identity, and philosophical issues. Many of his books received awards and international acclaim, and they have been translated into over forty languages.
What is the target audience for Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass?
Salman Rushdie tackles many relevant topics in his MasterClass, including creating characters, researching, editing, observing the world to gather material, and more. Therefore, the target audience is clearly an aspiring writer who wants to learn more about the craft. Anyone who wants to start working on their novel or improve their skills would benefit from these lessons.
Since some of the lessons revolve around surrealism and magical realism – there’s even a lesson titled “Building a Surrealist Story” – the course is also ideal for writers and readers interested in this genre.
Although it’s clear what the target audience for this MasterClass is, there’s another group of people who can enjoy this course: fans of Salman Rushdie’s work. Throughout the course, Rushdie keeps giving examples and sharing stories from his personal and professional life. He also reads passages from some of his novels and digs deeper into his creative process.
To sum things up, here are some of the people who might benefit from this course:
- Aspiring writers and storytellers
- Writers who want to learn from an iconic author
- People interested in surrealism
- Admirers of Salman Rushdie’s work
What does Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass cover?
For the most part, Salman Rushdie’s Storytelling and Writing MasterClass revolves around effective ways you can approach the creation of a novel. Salman covers the whole process, from creating powerful opening lines to editing and getting feedback.
Certainly, this is a thorough, well-rounded course that encompasses all the basics – it is, therefore, ideal for young writers who need guidance and structure to start their first novel. Rushdie is also a very interesting figure and a great storyteller, so I enjoyed the course even though I have my first novel behind me.
Apart from sharing useful tips and tricks on how to write an authentic, memorable novel worth reading, Rushdie also talks about his own journey as a writer and discusses works of fiction that inspired him personally.
Here is a brief overview of everything that Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass includes:
- Lesson 1 introduces you to the instructor and his story.
- Lessons 2-4 are focused on the beginnings of writing a novel, the essential questions you need to ask yourself, the structure of your novel, and an opening line.
- Lesson 5 sheds light on the power of myth. Salman suggests you can learn a lot from storytelling traditions and strategies from oral storytellers.
- Lessons 6-8 are based on characterization and different ways you can craft characters and bring them to life.
- Lesson 9 is focused on the importance of setting and place. Salman suggests you should treat the place in your novel as a character.
- Lessons 10-11 help you examine your personal perspective and experiences that shape your unique worldview. Salman also shares tips for observing the world to gather valuable material.
- Lesson 12 teaches how to develop a unique narrative style.
- Lesson 13 is based on building surrealist stories and a closer look at Salman’s Satanic Verses.
- Lessons 14-17 dig deeper into the process of writing a novel. Salman talks about researching the novel, rewriting, editing, finding motivation, and dealing with writer’s block.
- Lessons 18-19 are the final lessons where Salman makes the case for a new global canon and shares useful tips for writers.
My top lessons from Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass
Overall, I’m really glad I took this course.
Needless to say, Salman Rushdie is an incredible writer and storyteller. But he is also a good teacher; he knows how to compress his experience, skills, and knowledge into inspiring stories and useful writing tips.
All of his lessons are clear and insightful, and since they are quite versatile, it’s hard to tell which ones are the best. However, there are some lessons that particularly caught my attention.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite lessons from Salman Rushdie’s course:
Determine How to Tell Your Story
There’s one thing you need to do before you start a novel: you need to ask yourself six questions that will help you lay the groundwork for your story. According to Salman, if you can answer these six questions, you can start writing a novel.
This lesson reminded me of fiction writing fundamentals and helped me understand how Salman begins his creative process.
Setting as a Character
The place always comes first, says Rushdie. And if you want to create a compelling story, you should approach place with the same depth as you approach your characters.
In the lesson, Salman also explains an exercise where you need to describe a place without adjectives. This is generally a great exercise for writers who want to work on their language and the development of their narrative style.
Develop Your Relationship with Writing
This is a great lesson about finding inspiration and your own drive which is just as important as learning writing techniques and secrets of the genre.
As Salman suggests, you first need to understand who you are to write something of great value. Also, you need to have that real need to do it despite the difficulties – you might as well do something else otherwise.
How much does Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass cost?
MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, and there’s no possibility to purchase courses individually. Therefore, if you want to take Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.
The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $120 per year (down from the previous $180), or $10 per month. The MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes. That said, if you want to take multiple classes, a MasterClass subscription is definitely worth it. But it does end up being somewhat pricy otherwise.
The platform also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
What I liked about Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass
I was familiar with many of the techniques and tips Salman mentioned in this course. He covers a lot of basics, and he talks about literature and the fiction writing process in rather general terms. But that didn’t make this learning experience any less valuable, and I feel like I learned a lot nonetheless.
It’s always fascinating to listen to someone so knowledgeable and, well, iconic. So, no matter what your background or level of experience is, you can benefit from this course.
Apart from writing advice and discussions, there are examples, case studies, and excerpts from Rushdie’s work, which is surely appealing to all of his admirers.
All in all, I enjoyed this MasterClass, and I wrote down many sentences and tips in my notebook – and that’s always a good sign.
Now, here are some of the things I particularly liked:
Learning from a reputable author
As mentioned before, learning from a skilled literary legend is always an enjoyable (and surreal) experience. Salman’s experience, passion, and wisdom shine throughout this course. On the other hand, he speaks in a very calm, measured manner, carefully picking his words and conveying knowledge so that you can understand everything with ease.
It was also exciting to hear more about his novels like Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses as well as his inspirations and influences.
This MasterClass has a little bit of everything – writing tips, Salman’s readings, case studies, and exercises. It encompasses everything you need to know to start writing a novel, from crafting characters and places to working with an editor. Salman also tackles the role of language and ways you can develop your narrative style.
The thing is, some writing courses I took are focused on one aspect of writing and storytelling, but Salman’s MasterClass covers all the phases and elements without being overwhelming or too fast-paced.
Useful writing tips
Getting advice and tips is always one of the things I enjoy the most in a writing course, and this time was no different. It was great to hear what Salman has to say to young writers and all of his tips are useful and to the point. In the final lesson, he says that writers are people who finish the book – so you just need to make sure you don’t stop until the end – and I think this was a great way to conclude the course.
Drawbacks of Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass
With interesting stories from his life and plenty of advice to young writers, Salman Rushdie managed to contribute to MasterClass by offering us all a chance to take a glimpse into his brilliant, creative mind.
Honestly, there aren’t many things I didn’t like about the course. If you have the right expectations, there’s a lot to take out of it. However, there are some things that could be improved…
The structure could be better
Although this didn’t stop me from being immersed in this course, the overall structure of the course could be a little better. The course begins and ends in a good way, but the middle can get a bit confusing. For instance, some lessons (like Researching the Novel and some parts from Observing the World) could be introduced a little earlier.
The course can also get a bit slow from time to time. Once again, none of this really affected my learning experience, but I can understand if somebody would categorize this as a disadvantage.
Review conclusion: Is Salman Rushdie’s MasterClass worth it?
In his MasterClass, Salman Rushdie briefly explains how to approach the novel writing process. He talks about ways you can choose a structure, create believable characters, describe places in an effective way, research your novel, find appropriate language… and much more.
It’s a well-rounded course covering a variety of relevant topics, so it’s strange that it felt a bit slow at times. Nevertheless, it was an inspiring and insightful learning experience that I won’t forget anytime soon.
Salman Rushdie is, of course, a literary legend and a role model to many aspiring writers. And although he does talk about his own stories and techniques a lot in this course, he also encourages you to find your own way to approach writing. After all, you need to find what works for you.
Finally, I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to write a novel but needs to find a way to bring their vision into reality.