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“I don’t think I had aspirations in terms of one, being a writer or secondly what would happen with it. It just seems to me, I don’t know, overstepping, to do that. I came from a background where people just didn’t make it out of my hometown.”
Those are words coming out of the mouth of a writer who:
- Is currently the world’s best selling author.
- Has written 147 novels since 1976, and out of that, had 144 New York Times best selling novels.
- Had 19 consecutive New York Times #1 best sellers.
- Subsequently holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times best sellers by a single author.
- Holds the Guinness World Record for the first author to ever sell over 1 million eBooks.
That’s the kind of story that inspired you as a child. The kind of story that makes you want to dream and believe that you, too, can make it.
So when I saw an ad on James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing, I thought:
“I have to take it.”
To learn from the world’s most commercially-successful author?
There’s no denying it. James Patterson is the writer. I don’t think you will ever go inside a bookstore and not immediately see his name on the “popular books” shelf.
I bet we’ve all read at least one of his books. For some of us, it has even become a tradition, a ritual. You see his book, you pick it up. No second-guessing. Because you just know it’s going to be good.
But is it worth it?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Basics
- 2 My Review of James Patterson Teaches Writing
- 3 Course Overview
- 4 My Insights from Taking James Patterson’s MasterClass
- 5 In James Patterson’s words
- 6 It covers everything you need to seriously start writing a novel.
- 7 James Patterson Himself
- 8 The Office Hours
- 9 The Outline Lessons
- 10 The Bad
- 11 Sometimes it Dragged On.
- 12 Some Parts Aren’t Really Specific.
- 13 It’s Thriller-Specific.
- 14 Is This MasterClass for You?
What is MasterClass?
Chances are, you’ve come across MasterClass at one point or another. Right now, it’s one of the most popular online educational platforms out there.
MasterClass aims to bring the world’s most celebrated creative and professional minds to the table so you can have a chance to learn from them.
Each of their courses is carefully-laid out and incredibly well-produced. MasterClass aims to bring quality to each lesson – from the mentors, the production, community, and to everything else in between.
Here are some examples of the courses you can take in MasterClass:
- Malcolm Gladwell teaches writing
- Annie Leibovitz teaches photography
- deadmau5 teaches electronic music production
- Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration
- Christina Aguilera teaches singing
- Ron Howard teaches directing
- Aaron Sorkin teaches screen writing
- Martin Scorsese teaches film making
- Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
- And many more
How much is MasterClass?
That is one star-studded portfolio of mentors. But the important question is, how much does MasterClass cost?
MasterClass offers you one course for an upfront fee of $90. In exchange, you will have lifetime access to the course of your choosing and all the features that come with it.
They also offer an All-Access Pass, where you can get unlimited access to every course for $180 per year.
MasterClass also offers a money-back guarantee for whichever option you choose. If, within 30 days, you are not satisfied with your course, you’ll get a full refund – no questions asked.
Should you get the All-Access Pass?
It really comes down to your personal choice.
Personally, $180 for a one-year access to all MasterClass courses is a bargain, considering the star-studded array of mentors.
If you’re serious about writing, I recommend the All-Access Pass.
Inside a MasterClass
What do you get once you enroll in MasterClass?
- High-quality video lessons from a “Master” teacher. Video lessons break down on an average of 24 per MasterClass, lasting anywhere between 2 to 5 hours for each course.
- Course notes on each video lesson containing key points.
- A work book containing additional reading resources, assignments to take your learning further, as well as a space to log down your own notes.
- Access to the MasterClass Community, The Hub, where you can start and join discussions, share work, and connect with students around the world.
To read a more in-depth review of MasterClass itself, click here.
Now, let’s get into it.
My Review of James Patterson Teaches Writing
James Patterson’s writing course consists of 22 video lessons that last approximately 4 hours in total. Each video lesson is between 3 and 17 minutes.
The course is designed to help you write a book from start to finish, from choosing marketable titles and book covers to creating an outline. James Patterson even goes in-depth in how to market your book, provides key insights for meeting publishers, and reveals what it’s like working in Hollywood.
Here’s a preview of the lesson plan:
Each lesson is accompanied by a workbook. The class workbook is an opportunity for you to take your lessons further. It contains various assignments for you to go through, should you choose to. It’s on PDF format and is already printable.
Personally, I found it useful to print it and do every assignment as you go along with the course. This is a writing class, after all. You may as well immerse yourself in it.
The workbook also contains plenty of space for to write down your notes.
Below each video lesson is the Lesson Discussion section. It’s the place to write down comments and read other student’s reactions and opinions.
There is also an impressive feature called Office Hours where you record questions and submit it for James Patterson himself to answer.
Even if you don’t submit a question, the Q&A videos are still worth watching to learn more insights from the celebrated author.
Lastly, when you enroll in a MasterClass, you are also given access to the platform’s own community, The Hub. It’s basically a forum where you can create or join topics about your course, share opinions and additional resources with other students, and communicate with people around the world.
My Insights from Taking James Patterson’s MasterClass
“Somebody says that you’re lucky if you find something in life that you love and then it’s a miracle when somebody pays you to do it.
“And I think that’s ideally what you want to move towards – that you found something you love.”
Now that you have a general idea about what you’re going to get, let’s go through my personal review.
In James Patterson’s own words, this course is for people who:
- Want to write books or think they want to write books.
- Want to take a lot of time-wasting things out of the writing process.
- Like to read books – mystery, suspense, even kid’s books.
So how this plays out.
James Patterson opens the course with a hilarious joke. I don’t want to ruin it for you in case you take this MasterClass yourself.
But right off the get-go, he establishes a light, funny, congenial approach to teaching. This isn’t going to be like a college lecture. It will feel like you’re talking to someone older, wiser, but someone who has very valuable things to say.
I found myself relaxing already, decided to brew a pot of coffee, and dig in.
The video quality is impeccable, and the close-up shots of James Patterson gives the lessons a very intimate feel. I assume that the videos are shot at his home, with shelves and shelves of books in the back ground.
Some videos were even shot in a cafe where you can see James Patterson with a cup of coffee and a glass of vodka. It’s a nice added touch, as if you’re having a conversation with a friend.
So what were the lessons about?
Well, James Patterson delivers. In some lessons, he throws a rapid-fire succession of insider tips on how to create an outline, how to create characters that are believable, and how to strike balance with background research.
His confidence in himself is so infectious. He’s someone who knows his stuff. He is so sure of his talent. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone in my life who is so grounded in what he can do – and James displayed that.
The result is a “master” who really rallies you and psychs you up. I became so motivated to learn. But more importantly, I became confident in wanting to embrace the challenges that so many writers experience.
Aside from the tips and actionable advice, he imparts a lot of wisdom.
He encourages you to love what you do. But that shouldn’t be the only thing. It’s also about getting into that mentality of becoming creatively productive. Passion and habit. You’ll need to effectively combine these two traits to be a successful writer.
In James Patterson’s words
On always writing what you are passionate about:
“When you start doing this, if you don’t love it, you’re not going to finish the book, you’re not going to finish the outline. And that’s okay.
“All that’s telling you is – that’s not what you’re going to do. You have an interest in it, you like it, but you’re not passionate about it.
“If you are passionate about it, you can’t help yourself. You have to write that outline, you have to write that book.”
“You may have to write a million words. Maybe you already have written a million words and you’re already writing right now.
“But that’s how it works. And it’s all driven by passion. The beauty for me, the gift and the miracle for me, is I still have the passion that I have since I started. I’m not cynical about it. I’m not skeptical about it. I love it. I loved it when was 19 and I love it now when I’m 39 or 40 – whatever I am.”
On pushing yourself to the challenge:
“The greater the challenge, the more impossible it seems – the better chances that it’s really going to be something fresh.
“And in doing it, you write something like nothing’s been written that way before. Because nobody would be that stupid to solve those problems – except for you and me.
“We’re dumb. But that’s how we get rich, by being dumb.”
Here’s what I loved most about this course.
It covers everything you need to seriously start writing a novel.
I’ve only been in a few creative writing classes myself, but I’ve never been in one as elaborate as James Patterson’s MasterClass.
Here’s what it covers:
- How to determine if a raw idea is great enough to write.
- How to develop a plot.
- Creating an outline.
- How to deal with writer’s block.
- Creating characters, first lines, and exciting dialogues.
- How to build a chapter.
- Writing suspense.
- And so much more.
Personally, I think this is a very well-rounded course. There are a few negatives, which I will discuss later on. However, looking at it overall, I’ve learned some pretty valuable things that only time and experience would otherwise give.
For example, I appreciated how the business side of things was discussed. It’s not just about writing a novel and finishing the manuscript.
James Patterson also shared insight into what elements make a novel sell, what makes readers pick it up, and how to collaborate with other writers.
It covers a lot.
In that sense alone, it James Patterson’s MasterClass is very comprehensive.
James Patterson Himself
James Patterson as a mentor is so likeable. He dishes out insider tricks almost haphazardly. But he is also hilarious and amiable, too.
The biggest takeaway for me is how motivating he is. It’s like having both a mentor and a cheerleader. He is so convincing.
He has been through it all. From having his first novel rejected 31 times to receiving the Edgar Award, a top prize for mystery writers – with that very same novel.
And he’s learned it all. He’s fast-paced, unapologetic, and sarcastic.
James Patterson is old-school, but he proves that old-school is cool, too. And you’ll have a thing or two to learn about creating your own process and what works best for you.
The Office Hours
The icing on the cake for me, personally, is The Office Hours feature. While James Patterson created a wide-breadth course, The Office Hours really focuses on what students are interested in.
You can take your chances in submitting your own question. Who knows? You might be one of the lucky ones and get James Patterson himself to answer you. Some students were even lucky enough to get critiques.
In one particular Q&A, James Patterson gave an honest and helpful critique to some student’s title assignment. As a writer, titles are extremely important. And it has the ability to make-or-break your novel.
It was really interesting to see his reactions to the titles – to see what works and what doesn’t.
The Outline Lessons
“The most common mistake that writers make, especially young writers, is that they don’t do an outline!”
This was it for me. The golden nugget in the entirety of the course.
Admittedly, I am one of those writers who never makes an outline. And perhaps that is the sole reason why I have never ever finished a manuscript that I started.
But because of this MasterClass, I have begun to appreciate the importance of doing an outline. And from now on, I will always create one.
You will have to take the MasterClass to know more about this.
But there’s something I can tell you. In this course, James Patterson shared an extremely detailed, and incredibly helpful outline guide.
I’ve been singing nothing but praises for this MasterClass, but I can tell you it’s not without flaws. And before you decide on making your purchase, it’s important to do it with eyes wide open.
Sometimes it Dragged On.
This course covers a lot. But I do have to admit that sometimes I felt it dragged on.
James Patterson likes to share personal anecdotes or examples from his own books or publishing experiences, and there were times I thought that he swerved off topic and got stuck there unnecessarily.
Patterson’s congenial approach to teaching was a double-edged sword. At times it took a while to prove a point and there were a lot of fillers before you get to the golden advice.
That can be easily remedied. My advice is to watch closely, otherwise you’ll lose some things.
Some Parts Aren’t Really Specific.
I did enjoy listening to James Patterson and everything he shared and taught. However, there were times I wanted him to go straight to the point and be a little more specific.
For example, I found it interesting when he said he would make multiple drafts for each novel. In fact, he mentioned this repeatedly throughout the course.
But he did not really go into detail as to the process – what mistakes he would usually make, which parts he would rewrite more than others, or if he asks for critiques from other writers.
This is not a major flaw of the MasterClass. As it is, James Patterson covers a whole lot about the writing process already. However, I believe other writers would have benefited with that extra bit of information.
And it’s the same through out other parts of the course. While Patterson is willingly sharing random golden-nuggets, there’s the frustration that you’re not really getting the whole picture.
James Patterson will give you loads of examples when discussing his how-to’s. But they tend to focus on the thriller genre.
That’s not surprising. He is, after all, a thriller author. But the MasterClass is about writing a bestselling novel, not about writing a thriller on the spot.
Now, I am just nitpicking. The course still delivers, but I can imagine this drawback might annoy writers who don’t write thrillers.
Is This MasterClass for You?
Here’s the deal – if you want to learn from someone who whips out the writing textbook and tells you exactly what to do, this class is not for you.
But I am not saying it doesn’t bring any value.
On the contrary, I highly recommend this MasterClass for writers who like being more adventurous. If you’re someone who doesn’t like following the rules, James Patterson is the mentor you are looking for.
Many of us find ourselves intimidated to start a novel. I believe that’s true for almost any new writer. We can come up with a million ideas for manuscripts, but never finish them.
If you find yourself in this situation, I believe this MasterClass will be worth your money.
James Patterson’s MasterClass is perfect for beginners – writers who are still finding out who they are, avid readers who would like to try writing, to even experienced writers who want to reignite their passion and love of words.
This MasterClass is jam-packed with insightful lessons you’ll find fascinating and relatable, wherever you are right now as a writer.
He has this infectious attitude that will make you want to start your novel immediately. And I believe he will give you some pieces of advice that will prove useful even decades down the line in your writing career.