Malcolm Gladwell – Teaches Writing
In 24 lessons, the author of Blink and The Tipping Point teaches you how to find, research, and write stories that capture big ideas.

  • Introduction
  • Meet your instructor—best-selling author and longtime New Yorker staff writer, Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm outlines what he has planned for your class and reflects on the idea of writing as a calling.
  • Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle
  • Malcolm likes an imperfect argument—the perfect argument is too obvious. Learn how Malcolm builds an open-ended puzzle into his story, “The Ketchup Conundrum.”
  • Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement
  • Data is a big part of Malcolm’s stories. Learn three ways Malcolm helps readers digest data and engage with complex ideas in his writing.
  • Holding Readers: Controlling Information
  • Learn how to use surprises, guessing games, and suspense to invite readers into your story.
  • Malcolm shares his guiding principles to uncovering a good idea for a story through research.
  • Selecting the Story
  • What makes a story worth pursuing? Malcolm talks through his criteria for spotting a unique story and the first steps of story development.
  • Developing the Story
  • Learn how Malcolm grows the idea of a story, and how he tests new ideas with family and friends.
  • Developing the Story: Analogous Worlds
  • Using David and Goliath and “What the Dog Saw,” Malcolm teaches you how to look for patterns and draw connections between seemingly disparate ideas.
  • Interviewing
  • The interview is the critical foundation for developing character in nonfiction. Malcolm teaches you how to conduct an interview to uncover what is uniquely interesting about your subject.
  • Characters: Descriptions
  • Malcolm breaks down two pieces of his own writing—one written for The New Yorker and one for a medical journal—to illustrate how he brings a new character to life.
  • Characters: World Building
  • If you could choose to describe a character by the way they look, or by what they keep in their bedroom, Malcolm says to choose the bedroom. Learn how to use the setting and action around a character to build their personality.
  • Character Case Study: “The Pitchman”
  • Malcolm believes that when you reveal story is just as important as what that story is. He explains this idea with an in-depth look at one of his favorite characters, late-night television pitchman Ron Popeil.
  • Structuring Language
  • Learn how Malcolm uses sentence length and punctuation to guide readers through a sophisticated idea.
  • Using a New Yorker article he wrote about a company testing out a new drug, Malcolm demonstrates how to employ jargon to hook your readers.
  • Tone and Voice
  • Malcolm explains how to calibrate your tone for your readership using examples from his book David and Goliath and his own public speaking Q&As.
  • Humor and Melancholy
  • Malcolm feels that restraint is essential in the production of real emotion. Learn how to introduce humor and melancholy to form deep connections with your readers.
  • Case Study: Language and Emotion in “Something Borrowed”
  • Using his essay “Something Borrowed” as an example, Malcolm demonstrates how to use language and emotion to build a powerful narrative.
  • Titles
  • For Malcolm, a title is the ultimate attention-grabber. Learn how to write powerful titles that will speak to your reader’s emotions.
  • Drafts and Revisions
  • Getting a piece of writing to a finished state is a process. Malcolm walks you through his approach, from first draft to final polishing.
  • When Your Story Enters the World
  • Once your story is published, the world will respond. Learn Malcolm’s tips for promoting your work, dealing with critics, and what to do when readers misinterpret your intent.
  • Working as a Writer
  • Learn Malcolm’s advice for aspiring writers, including how to launch and maintain your career as a professional writer.
    How to Read
  • Malcolm believes that you can’t become a great writer without being a great reader. Learn Malcolm’s strategies for critical reading.
  • Who to Read
  • Malcolm breaks down the strengths of some of his favorite writers: Lee Child, David Epstein, Michael Lewis, and Janet Malcolm.
  • Conclusion: A Theory of Other Minds
  • Malcolm delivers his parting words about the true intent of nonfiction writing.

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