‘Hi, my name is Stephen King…’
A funny opener and an insight into JP’s quirky personality.
22 video lessons, a printable PDF workbook of writing exercises and resources and interactive assignments online. As well as large community of writers chatting and interacting.
This is what is offered by Masterclass, a company who produce videos where experts in different areas of sports and arts teach you their craft, when you sign up for their writing classes course.
$90 or £77.35 for this. It seems reasonable, right? It’s James Bloody Patterson after all – best-selling is his middle name and doesn’t he let you know about it in his videos! He produces books from children’s to adult thrillers, both in his own name and more laterally with co-authors (who we here from in the video).
And my overall assessment is that it is worth it. I’ve paid much more for similar writing advice, for similar exercises (found in the PDF workbook) and I’m damn sure I spent wayyyyyy more than that on my latest piece of unused fitness equipment (adjustable dumbbells for those interested, now coated in dust).
So what did I learn? Tell me what divine knowledge he told you, Stuart!? Tell me now!
Okay, so he goes into some details on areas like Raw Ideas, how to filter out the good ones from the crap ones, Outlining, which is something I’ve never done before but he’s convinced me I should try, and other basics like character, plot, dialogue, endings and of course editing.
He says outlining is the reason for his success, the reason he rarely gets writers block, the reason he rarely goes off track with his stories and the reason he is able to produce books so quickly, with the help of his trusty co-authors. And he believes in it so intensely, I couldn’t help but be inspired to try it myself and I will. And you should, too, just to see if it works for you. He says his range from 20 to 50 pages long and sometimes longer and that he does several, sometimes 5/6 drafts of his outline before he actually writes a story!
Sounds cray, huh? But it works for him and it might work for some other people, too. My instinct was to reject this as not for me, but when I reflected I realised that this is so often the response of people in any scenario where they are used to doing something in one way. We are resistant to change, resistant to change what we deem works. But what if there is a better way, or the way your doing it now doesn’t really work (we all kid ourselves!) then this outlining malarkey may be worth trying.
He gives you a sample of one of his outlines from one of his novels. It’s detailed, it’s long and it looks like a great blueprint to write a story from. It’s a nice little insight into how the master works.
Bored of outlines? So was I by the end, but he has lots more to offer. In all honesty, I found much of what he said, in terms of craft, to be nothing new but just good, solid advice that I’ve heard before. The real enjoyment came towards the end when he started to recall his own experiences, a little about his own routines, how he was published, his family and most funny of all – his experience with Hollywood.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway though is the workbook full of examples and writing exercises which will help even the more experience writers who sign up.
Finally, he is also currently offering a chance, via a competition, to become his next co-author. He did this last year and the winner now has a book coming out, with her name and his on the cover. Pretty cool, huh? And bound to be a bestseller…after all it says James Patterson on the cover.