Lesson 12 Building a chapter James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 12- Building A Chapter

Lesson 12 Building A Chapter
Lesson 12 Building A Chapter

Friday with James Patterson’s MasterClass

James Patterson starts this lesson saying:

“Mike Connelly said, What Jim does, is, every single chapter moves the characterization and the action forward. -Every chapter. And turns on the movie projector in our heads.”

Then James continued.

“That movie projector in our heads means, that I can see the scene. I can hear the scene. I can smell the scene. I taste the scene. Something about it, I was getting enough information that sets me in that scene. So I can be there ‘with’ that character. And that’s really, really useful.”

He tells us to hear, smell, and see the scene- be there with the character. My take on this is –get in close– and personal. Chapters can be one scene or a few scenes. It all depends on what you have in mind for your story, your novel.

Choose a View Point

James Patterson likes to write in 1st person and 3rd person limited

Then he tells us, ‘It is your creation you can do whatever you want to do if it works.’ There are no rules that’s says you can’t use 1st and 3rd in the same story.

He likes to follow the villains and some secondary characters – you can switch off and write from a different character’s point of view. Who makes it more interesting? Which point of view feels right? The victim? The Detective, or the Killer? What is the best point of view you need to make the chapter come alive?

Other points of view emotionally how do you want your reader to feel? What is going to make it sad, happy, scary or sexy – then write in that point of view or rewrite it?

In ‘1st To Die’ all the main character are introduced in that first chapter. 1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club #1) by James Patterson

Starts with a murder of a couple, in a hotel, while on their honeymoon. We are introduced to Lindsay Boxer who is a police officer. The medical examiner, Claire Washburn. We meet Jill Bernhardt an assistant D.A. We see their connection. In this first chapter, we met three key characters. Then we meet a young reporter, Cindy Thomas, the fourth member, and she doesn’t belong there. She lies her way in. By the end of the book they are a unit – James Patterson says, “good shit”

This lesson has a PDF, a comments section, and an assignment.


Melania Trump’s speech was it really plagiarism? Motivational speakers that Michelle Obama used


When Melania Trump used ‘some of the words’ in Michelle Obama’s speech from 2008. The internet, haters, news media, everyone went crazy.   We can see Melania used some phrases, they are the same.

But was it really Plagiarism? Or a big etiquette, Oooops?

In 2008,  I wondered about the sound of Michelle Obama’s speech.  Parts sounded very staged and  filled with motivational quotes. Quotes that ended up being sent around the Internet  and became attributed to her and her alone.  Quoted soooo many times.

Go ahead, do a Google search on ‘Michelle Obama quotes’

Google search on Michelle Obama quotes
Google search on Michelle Obama quotes

Was this a plagiarism fiasco? I decided to pick it apart. My all time favorite thing to do.  {Wink-wink}

First I need to get on my soapbox and say,- I am not for plagiarism, nor am I for censorship. Both are equally offensive.

Now, let’s get on with it.

I was impressed by Mrs. Obama’s use of motivational quotes that were then attributed to her. We all know that speechwriters write political speeches.

They do right…  Well, maybe not this last year’s worth of Donald Trump’s speeches. For me, I found those hilarious. He spoke from the hip – to be clearer- he said what he wanted to say. And ‘if’ he had a speechwriter,  the poor guy (man or woman {SMILE})  probably had a heart attack trying to keep ‘The Donald’ in line.


Great speech in 2008, Mrs. Obama!  Equal kudos to, Melaina Trump for 2016 for her speech. {Smooch!}

Let’s get down to business. I only used Michelle Obama’s piece, to be fair, I posted the same section of  Melania’s speech at the end.   Melaina’s writer accepted responsibility for the plagiarism in her speech. We can all agree,  it should have been edited better.  And  a big wave should have been sent out to  Michelle, and we all know that wasn’t done. Well, not right away.

Emily Post would have agreed that this was bad etiquette.

I pulled the words out and found the quotes.

Here is part of Michelle Obama’s speech from 2008:

“….And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond (1)and (2 & 3)you do what you say you’re going to do; that you (6)treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation – (*) to know that the only limit to the (4)height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your (5)willingness to work for them.”~Michelle Obama

(1) “Your word is your bond.” ~Melvyn Douglas

(2)“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”~ C.G. Jung

(3) The number one, most important, get-this-or-fail short lesson for both work and business: Do what you say you are going to do, when you said you where going to do it, in the way you said you were going to do it.~ Larry Winget

(*sound like) “Success is measured in terms of reaching your goals, dreams, and expectations. Your success is determined by hard work, persistence, and determination. If you are going to be a success in life, it is up to you… it is your responsibility.” ~ Will Horton

(4)The height of your accomplishments will equal the depth of your convictions.~ William F. Scolavino

(5) How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? And I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it. ~Jim Valvano

(6)“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” ~ Nathaniel Branden

(*)“The only real limitation on your abilities is the level of your desires. If you want it badly enough, there are no limits on what you can achieve.”~ Brian Tracy

Here you go, the same piece from Melania Trump’s 2016 speech.

“My parents impressed on me the values: that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. They taught me to show the values and morals in my daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son.

And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. [Cheering] Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”~ Melania Trump

What do you think?

Michelle Obama’s full speech 

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, Friday’s with James Patterson’s Masterclass

James Patterson's Masterclass
James Patterson’s Masterclass

“All of your key interchanges with your characters, I mean, they gonna be good, bad or indifferent just because of the dialogue. And how they talk to each other it is gonna reveal who they are. Who’s smarter, who’s taking advantage of who? Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s in charge? And who’s really in charge”. ~James Patterson

Mr. Patterson used Lush Life by Richard Price,  his example of  what great dialogue can sound like. I have that book. I need to sit down with it, read and learn, pull the dialogue apart , examine its details. And figure out its ‘hows and whys’ .  This is definitely the type of dialogue that I would love to write.

Here are a few lines from, page 6 of Lush Life.

“What do we got…”

“Two males in the front.”

“What do we got…”

“Neon trim on the plate.”

“Tinted windows.”

“Right rear taillight.”

“Front passenger just stuffed something under the seat.”

No dialogue tags. Just fast paced dialogue. Short, tight writing. It moves along. In just these seven lines I can feel and see the movement as the cops check out the car they stopped. I felt like I walked around that car.

My thoughts on this: check out your favorite authors and see how they write their dialogue. Read it out loud. Get the feel for it. Then ask yourself if you learned anything new about that character from their dialogue. Where did the author take you in this dialogue?

James Patterson doesn’t write realism. His dialogue is heightened – but it feels real. Without being ‘literally’ real dialogue. Because real dialogue is boring…

Listen to how people speak when you are in the store, at work, on the bus.

This class has a comments section, where you can post your lesson and a video critique by James on his office hour’s page where he will answer questions.

Enroll by clicking the link on the upper left sidebar.


I binged watched Netflix STRANGER THINGS

I just finished binge watching on Netflix ‘STRANGER THINGS‘.

I loved it!

I don’t want to give out any {{spoilers,}} so go watch then come back here. *SPOILER*

Creators; Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer

I can compare this movie to other writer’s work and past shows, but only if I want to nitpick at a really great Netflix original.

When the show started I didn’t love the character of  Joyce played by Winona Ryder. I started complaining at how she didn’t even seem to notice her teen was making breakfast. Later on, she redeemed herself by accepting responsibility for her shortcomings.

Winona Ryder played a stressed-out, guilt-ridden, divorced mom running through stages of grief. She had me believing  she was heading for a one-way-ticket to a nervous breakdown and living in a cardboard box. Her house is a mess, her life is a mess, she is a mess. I felt sorry for her.

Police Chief Hopper (David Harbour) his daughter died of cancer before this story started. He is dealing with that loss with beer and pills.

The show has four preteen kids. Gaten Matarazzo  who plays Dustin Henderson. Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair the  lifelong next-door neighbor of Mike Wheeler, played by Finn Wolfhard. Lastly we have Noah Schnapp  who plays  Will Byers, the character that everyone is searching for or believes is dead.

These boys are friends, who live by a code of chivalry that they learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons.  They prove their  friendship, with cooperation and  using strategy to find the real enemy.

I wondered about the accuracy as they played the game, especially when they ran into  Demogorgon. No one faces Demogorgon and lives. So tossing a fireball at a creature that is from a flaming pit/the Abyss/ it is Hell’s most powerful demon, well, that won’t kill it. When Demogorgon pops in, you run for your life. Just… RUN!

The boys meet Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) while they are out looking for their friend Will

Nancy is a teenage girl, who now has two boys who are smitten with her. Here we see normal teen hormones running rampant. Nancy’s little brother, Mike, takes in Eleven and she hides in their basement.

Nancy (Natalia Dyer) has a crush on Steve (Joe Keery), a popular boy at school. Jonathan Byers played by Charlie Heaton, has a crush on Nancy. Jonathan’s little brother is Will.

I hope you followed me as I set up the characters.

Everyone has something they want or something they are trying to overcome. The government has their own agenda, which is capture Eleven, they will go to extreme measure to accomplish this goal. Eleven wants away from ‘bad people.’  The creature wants to feed. Joyce wants her son back. The boys want to find Will. Police Chief Hopper he couldn’t save his daughter, he needs to save Will.

Nancy wants to find her friend. Without being able to read Nancy’s mind, I can only guess she wants both boys. Steve wants Nancy. Jonathan wants to save his brother and maybe end up with Nancy.

The mentioning  of,  Hugh Everett the American physicist who came up with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics-multiple universes, gave this story  believability.

Now, I wonder if someone or something is trying to communicate with me,  through my flickering hall light.

Tenth Video Lesson James Patterson’s Masterclass First Lines

Friday with James Patterson

Lesson 10 First Lines
Lesson 10 First Lines

Listening to James Patterson as he teaches this class, has given me a look into the way his words play out in his books. I can hear his voice, his sound is a sort of eastern- Mid-Atlantic accent with a pinch of New England. I could be hearing things,- which wouldn’t be the first time- Well, maybe I should think up an idea for a story just out of a person’s dialect.

Here’s my attempt at that first line: “How long you gonna take stare’n at da map, Jimmy?” “Shda-up , Doris, we can’t just drive up wit old Benny in da trunk”

Okay, my accents need a lot of work. Still, I posted it in the comments section. Along with this: “Fourteen ways into the town, Jimmy had them all pointed out on the map all he needed was one, one that will let him drive into town hoping one would notice blood leaking out of his trunk.”

James Patterson tells us, that first lines, “Can give you an advantage. You are reaching out from that book, grabbing ahold of that reader and sucking them right into your book…or not. …. If you pull them right in you got em! “ The he said, “You’ve got that agent that editor, that reader. ”


James Patterson’s favorite first lines:

‘Along Came A Spider’ the first Alex cross book starts like this:

“Early on the morning of December 21, 1992, I was the picture of contentment on the sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C.”

This first line gives you a lot of information.  What it tells me is the feeling, –  “the picture of contentment” then I have the time, “early on the morning” the date, “December 21, 1992” and where it all takes place, “sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C.”

Here is the first sentence for ‘You’ve Been Warned’ by James Patterson a horror book, “Its way to early in the morning for dead people”

If you want to contact James Patterson you can send him a letter at this address from his website

James Patterson  c/o Author Mail  Hachette Book Group USA 1290 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10104,

or connect  with James Patterson on Facebook,  Twitter,  and Pinterest

Or sign up with MasterClass. That link is at the top of the black, left sidebar.

Rules Don’t Apply Rule #1 Never tweet when you are drunk


It’s the thought of the times to be compassionate, thoughtful, helpful, understanding….rrrright. Admittedly I want everyone to live their lives the way they want to. By doing some fact-finding. How much will it cost? How long will it take, and where is the money coming from? Am I missing something?


On the other end of that spectrum…is everyone’s ‘crazy’… Oops! That word isn’t ‘Politically’ correct. Get over it! I can make a list of all the words that no one wants to hear…and shut-up is at the top of that list. Pleeease! How can you tell someone to shut-up if you aren’t supposed to say, …Shut- up?

{{Pouty-face, bunches of roses}}

Then there’s the ‘N-word’ that one is a biggie… never ever say ‘no’ or nitwit! Oh, you thought I was going to say… the N word. Tell me which ‘N’ word are you talking about?  I have a really big, noteworthy dictionary with lots of pages for N-words.

{{Thumbs up, Half-eaten sugar cookies}}

Here’s a great N-word:   neologism

  1. 2psychology  :  a new word that is coined especially by a person affected with schizophrenia and is meaningless except to the coiner ~Merriam-Webster

There are a hell of a lot of them -Google them if you don’t believe me!  If you were expecting some other N-word. Well, sorry.    I’m not a rapper.  Black/ white or polka dotted. Hold On Now, I am being  poked.  I have to be specific…Okay, Okay- I am a Scottish- Irish-German- Polish -American, but not a rapper. Happy now!

{{angry leprechaun}}

I am a woman who knows how to send and receive an email, unlike Hillary Clinton. I see her getting the vapors and swooning, “Bill, make them go away…” and it did. Hillary is playing the ‘stupid woman card‘ when she has everyone believe those emails didn’t have a security signature.

{{ Urkel}}

Damn I want to have money. Just to pay my bills, and some real food would be great. If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you have never been poor. Lucky you!

{{Thumbs-up, happy faces, flying bunnies}}

I like Trump! Yes, I said it. He makes me laugh. Hillary has me crossing my eyes and making snorting noises. Trump has a smart, ambitious, loving family.  He must have done something right!  {{flying-donkey}}

Rule #2 Never talk about family stuff … {{rainbow ponies, flying skunks}}

I like Trump. And when he plays the Trump card he owns it…

Now where did I put my glass of wine.. {{whine}}

Ninth Video Lesson James Patterson’s Masterclass Creating Character

Friday with James Patterson

Creating Characters
Creating Characters

Lesson 9 Creating Character

“If you write something mediocre chances are it won’t get published.” James Patterson

Try to see the world through your character’s eyes, the way that character would see the world. Look through their eyes, their religion, spiritual beliefs, fears, what he hates, loves, and wishes.

What I get from this: If the character you are creating is the antagonist makes sure you give them a redeeming quality. Make them human.Put yourself into your characters, how would you feel in that same situation?

Create a great character by how they see the world. James Patterson doesn’t write realism. He does get into the emotional part of his character, Alex Cross’s  career of being a cop. Get into the emotional feel of your character’s career.

Are you having trouble finding the right career for your character? Here is a link- with a list of careers. – Occupational Outlook Handbook

“Difficult to create a hero that you want to read about- if there isn’t complexity “ `James Patteson

Your secondary characters, the Grandmother in the Alex Cross books is vital, and she is a secondary character.

I am ending this, ‘Friday with James Patterson’ with a picture of Megumi. She is a rescued Ragdoll. She was abused and nearly dead when she was taken in by a local rescue group. I will tell you about her in a future post. I just wanted you to see her. Happy, Healthy and spoiled in her forever home.


Eighth Video Lesson James Patterson’s MasterClass Writer’s Block

Lesson 8

Lesson 8 James Patterson's Masterclass
Lesson 8 James Patterson’s Masterclass


James Patterson holds up a yellow legal pad and says, “This is the enemy, the blank page.”

Just get that first draft down. Like everyone James Patterson can have trouble getting those words down on paper, getting them down so they sound and feel right.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”~ E.B. White

To cut through my writer’s block, I tried a dictation software. Where my  words were typed out for me. That didn’t work. ‘If ‘what I spoke out loud,  wasn’t  what was typed. Which, disappointedly it wasn’t. Instead  it caused more writer’s block and anger at  myself for trying to  do something new, instead of just writing and editing later…I will answer emails or wash dishes instead of writing. So using that software was my way at procrastinating.

Back to James.

If he isn’t getting it, he puts TBD (To Be Done)  then comes back to it. Blocks happen. When you get blocked just move on.

James said, “Like when your trying to do a sport and you get all tense, that’s not going to work. You’re going to strike out.”

Seven days a week, Mr. Patterson gets up early and skims through two or three papers, and a cup of coffee.  It takes him about fifteen minute.  Then he starts writing. He writes in pencil, on yellow legal pad.  He has an assistant to type up his handwritten ideas.

I want an assistant. 🙂  She can help vacuum up all the cat hair. I bet James has a maid to do his vacuuming …yes, I am getting off track.

James Patterson will read what he ‘just’ wrote and edits that only.

What I got from this video is  you need to find a way to make your mind a blank. So you can recharge. This makes sense. When I get stressed, I can’t write. When my mind is full I can’t write.

Stay Focused

James has always been able to tune out the world and focus on what he is doing.

I will need to take all my crazy personalities off to the side and have a talk with them. Maybe I just need to yell ‘Shut up’ not that they will listen…Some people can use music to find that place where they can write. I need quiet. Find your quiet place.

James Patterson can tune out anything. He is able to concentrate. He does one thing at a time. If you learn how to tune out everything, learn to focus on one thing. Concentrate on that one thing. Then you then can get into the story, into the scene.

James Patterson writes seven days a week, he loves it!

 “Do the best you can possibly do.”  James Patterson said,  “Aim for the stars.”

This lesson comes with the PDF workbook and a comments section where you can post your thoughts on this lesson.