I gained early access to Shonda Rhimes Television Writing MasterClass. Shonda’s MasterClass is one of the most hotly anticipated courses of its kind and I was biting my nails with impatience for an entire month.
But now the Shonda Rhimes MasterClass is live and I have devoured the first week’s materials.
And what a great first week it was!
First let me start by saying that I have not seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, or Scandal.
I certainly will binge-watch those shows now – just like I binged everything Aaron Sorkin and Werner Herzog created after attending their MasterClasses – but I make this point because I’m approaching this course and this review as someone who knows relatively little about Shonda Rhimes.
You will see that I am very happy with the first week of this MasterClass but if YOU are already a die-hard Shonda Rhimes fan and you know you want to be a writer, I will save you some time. Skip this review and just enrol in the course.
You. Will. LOVE. It.
Now, onwards with the review!
Shonda Rhimes MasterClass Review (Week 1)
So why did I sign up for Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass if I wasn’t a die-hard fan?
Well, I have already taken a few of the MasterClass courses and I trust the company to deliver an outstanding product. Both the Sorkin and the Herzog MasterClasses broke me out of periods of writer’s block, taught me new storytelling tricks, inspired me, and filled me with ideas and motivation.
As I have mentioned multiple times before, my philosophy is two-fold:
- If you get just one valuable thing from a course or book, it’s money well spent.
- Good writers/artists/storytellers consistently invest in their craft in order to improve.
With that philosophy firmly set in my mind, the Shonda Rhimes MasterClass was a no brainer. Plus she’s just awesome to listen to and I got a real good vibe from her as a person and as an artist.
Easy purchase. But was it worth it?
I’m only one week into the Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing For Television MasterClass and I already think it’s worth it.
We’re talking hours of content – video and homework and office hours – and a very well-structured 7-week writing course from a screenwriter who is currently at the top of her game.
The first week of the course is mainly a primer. It’s for letting us settle in with Shonda, who is getting us pumped up for the weeks ahead.
Looking ahead at the course syllabus, we can see that we’ve got some treats in store concerning everything from creating memorable characters to pitching, editing, and working in a writers’ room. The first week sets all of that up perfectly with in-depth lessons about how to dissect scripts, understanding how to cultivate ideas that have viable market potential, developing the tone and premise of a show, and more.
I’ve got so many exciting ideas already.
Shonda gave some very thought-provoking insights into how to develop your show’s structure.
She used case studies from Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal to show how the nature of the story itself will dictate the structure.
This advice had a real effect on my current work-in-progress and I went back to reshape it.
I’ve got a ton of notes from the class so far, but a few things that stuck out the most were Shonda’s top 3 things an emerging television writer should do if they want to write a good pilot, the best thing a writer should do (that most don’t), what scripts to analyse and how to tear them apart, and how to know if you have a good (and original) show idea.
I also loved the story bible we get to download and dissect. This is Shonda Rhimes’ actual story bible that she used for Grey’s Anatomy before it even hit the air. This is a REAL gem and is obviously super helpful for budding television writers like us for many reasons.
There are still 6 weeks of the course to go. We’re just getting started. So I can’t give a definitive review of the Shonda Rhimes MasterClass just yet. But from what I’ve seen so far, I’m very impressed and excited for the rest.
A quick tip when joining the course: be an active learner!
Shonda is a compelling speaker and it’s definitely nice to listen to her but you should totally be taking notes during the lessons and following the homework (yes, there’s homework – how exciting!). Make sure you really put Shonda’s advice into practice. If you do that, you will surely love the class as much as I do.
I’m already diving straight into week 2 and it looks like things are speeding up fast!
November 2017 Update: Now, for $180, you can get access to the entire MasterClass course library with the All Access Pass. This is a total non-brainer and incredible value for money. Just check out their line-up.