In his MasterClass, Walter Mosley teaches you how to rethink genres and the “rules” of fiction and how to approach writing your own novel.
WALTER MOSLEY: Fiction is one of the few things that we can do in the modern world in which you make something from nothing. You could be the grandmother of four children living in a cabin up on top of a mountain. And the four children or visiting you, and they say, “we’re bored.” And you say, “Well, let me tell you a story about a little girl who that set upon by a bear.” Now, there’s no little girl.
There was no bear. It’s just this woman making up a story for these little children who in turn are making up a story in their own minds. That’s making something out of nearly nothing. Writing and storytelling, everybody does. Without the fictive imagination, there is no growth.
Everything remains the same. When you’re an artist, when you’re a writer, when you’re making up different ways of seeing the world, understanding the world, considering what happened, what didn’t happen, you are actually changing the world whether they know it or not, whether they read the book or not. The beautiful thing about any day is it can happen.
Today, all of a sudden you realize, hey, my wheels aren’t spinning anymore? They are spinning, but I’m actually moving forward. I’m not sitting in place. My name is Walter Mosley. I’m a Black man in America. I’m an artist. I’m a writer. I guess I mostly think of myself as a novelist, because that’s what I do day in and day out and have done for nearly half of my life.
I think in this period of time that we have together, you will learn how to plumb the depths of your intellect and your soul to find the right words, the right structure, the right story, the right characters to create the novel that’s in you and that will take you forward into the world.
I wanted to teach this MasterClass because I want people to understand that a novel isn’t putting the left front tire on the Volkswagen on the production line. The novel is creating a whole new mode of transportation, a whole new mode of understanding the world. And I think that over the last 30 years of being a novelist, I’ve learned how that’s worked and I’ve made a commitment to it, and I would love to talk to you about that commitment.
The hardest thing you’re ever going to face in writing a novel is believing in something that has come from seemingly nothing. I hope what you take away from this experience is the confidence that if you do what we’ve talked about here, the novel will appear. I’m Walter Mosley, and this is my MasterClass.
I was born in Los Angeles, California, 1952 on January 12. I lived in what they called South Central back then in Watts. And you know, I had a Jewish mother, a Black father, pretty good life, very easy, pretty simple. We were poor, but not that poor, kind of lower-working class, and we had a really good time. Both my parents worked for the Board of Education, and so they sent me to a private school. But when I say private school, it was a school called Victory Baptist Day School. I think it.
01. Meet Your Instructor
02. Walter’s Process: Writing Every Day
03. Developing Fictional Characters
04. Story vs. Plot
05. Narrative Voice, Point of View, and Dialogue
06. Descriptive and Vivid Language
07. Using Poetry to Understand Language
08. Fiction, Race, and Representation
09. Genre and “Rules” of Fiction
10. Surviving the Publishing Industry
11. Discovering Yourself Through Writing
12. Living a Creative Life
13. Walter’s Most Important Thing