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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.”
These are the humble words spoken by a writer who has achieved the following:
- James Patterson is currently the world’s best selling author;
- Has written 147 novels since 1976, of which 144 became New York Times best-selling novels;
- Wrote 19 consecutive New York Times #1 bestsellers;
- Holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author; and
- Holds the Guinness World Record for the first author to ever sell over 1 million eBooks.
James Patterson is an inspiration. He’s also funny, down-to-earth, and has much wisdom to share.
When I found out James Patterson was teaching a class on MasterClass, I had to take it.
After completing the class, I have put together this comprehensive review of James Patterson’s class on MasterClass to help you decide whether to purchase it.
I’ll take you inside the class with screenshots and provide an overview of what you’ll learn.
By the end of this review, you’ll be able to answer the question:
Is James Patterson’s MasterClass worth it?
What is MasterClass?
James Patterson’s class appears on MasterClass. This is a new online education platform that started in San Francisco in 2015.
It’s become really popular over the last few years. In fact, now that the world is in lockdown with the coronavirus pandemic, MasterClass has completely blown up—in a good way.
The best way to understand MasterClass is that you have the world’s most successful people teaching the thing that made them successful.
In James Patterson’s case, he teaches how he creates bestselling novels.
Here are some other classes you can take:
- Malcolm Gladwell teaches writing
- Alicia Keys teaches songwriting
- 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
Pretty incredible, right?
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How much is James Patterson’s MasterClass?
You can enroll in James Patterson’s MasterClass for $90. This gives you lifetime access, but only to this one class.
MasterClass also offers an All-Access Pass where you can access all of the classes for $180 per year.
They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. I haven’t asked for a refund so I don’t know how the process is, but I’ve seen reports from others that’s it’s easy to get it if you need it.
Should you get the All-Access Pass?
Personally, if you’re interested in becoming a better writer, $180 for one-year access to all MasterClass courses is a bargain, considering the star-studded array of mentors.
What you get as part of MasterClass
Here’s what you get immediate access to when you enroll in MasterClass:
- High-quality video lessons from a “Master” teacher. Video lessons on an average of 24 per class, lasting in total anywhere between 2 to 5 hours for each course.
- Course notes on each video lesson containing key points.
- A workbook 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.
Overview 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 on 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:
You can see the full updated lesson plan here.
Each lesson is accompanied by a workbook. The 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 in 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 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.
Finally, 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.
Who is James Patterson’s MasterClass for?
“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.”
In James Patterson’s words, his class 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.
James Patterson opens the class 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, down-to-earth approach to teaching. This isn’t like a college lecture. It feels 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 give the lessons a very intimate feel. I assume that the videos are shot at his home, with shelves and shelves of books in the background.
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 and is 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.
The lessons covered by James Patterson in his class
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.
It’s a well-rounded course. There are a few negatives, which I’ll 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.
You can see the full lesson plan here.
What James Patterson is like as a teacher
James Patterson as a teacher is so likable. 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 chance and submit 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.
James Patterson on the importance of an outline
“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 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.
What’s wrong with James Patterson’s class on MasterClass?
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.
This class 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.
Also, I thought at times he could have been more direct.
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 in 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 throughout 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.
Also, the class is thriller-specific.
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.
Quotes by James Patterson from his class on MasterClass
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.”
Is James Patterson’s MasterClass worth it?
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 this MasterClass is for you if you want to be more adventurous as a writer. 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.