Category Archives: James Patterson online class

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.

 

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.

 

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. ”

FAVORITE FIRST LINES

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.

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.

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

Lesson 8

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

WRITER’S BLOCK

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.

 

Seventh video lesson James Patterson’s MasterClass Outlines part 2

James Patterson lesson 7

James Patterson MasterClass lesson 7
James Patterson MasterClass lesson 7

OUTLINES PART 2

“Only his editor has seen this outline,” we are told by James Patterson. “He hasn’t shared this before.”

I am not posting that outline nor the lessons. What I will do is give you my impression of those first three chapters in his book Honeymoon. And their ‘first and last’ sentences.

James Patterson’s chapters are short. His first chapter is only about 700 words. Now that is a guesstimate, 250 per page- guesstimate.

Before chapter one, the page is labeled:

Part One  PERFECT COUPLES

This part goes on and on according to my book.  In the ‘Honeymoon’ outline, Part Two starts with Chapter nineteen.

I posted 💡 in the comment section asking…

In the outline, I saw the book was cut into, not only chapters but, into Part-one, Part-Two, and Part Three. In the (actual) book, Honeymoon, or at least my copy. I only see Part One labeled. If the Parts were only for the outline, why start with Part One? Is this the storytelling arc- with a three-act structure?    

I await my answer. 😎 In the meantime read on.

Chapter one starts with:

“Nora could feel Connor watching her. “

Is this a stalker? We find out in the next sentence, -Connor always watches her pack. We are still getting to know this couple.

 It ends with a sentence that needs no explanation. 

“Now, what was that about tying somebody up?” she asked.

I can see how this chapter connects and then fills in with this couple joking, playing with each other. We see love; we are in love with them. These two, together, feel good. All happy, shiny lovey-dovey, and rich, what could go wrong?  This is the beginning, something has to happen or what’s the point of reading.

Chapter two has nearly 1,000 words in this chapter, which starts with:

“Thirty-minutes later, donning a plush pink terry-cloth robe, Nora descended the sprawling staircase of Connor’s 11,00-square-foot, three-story neoclassic Colonial.”

Nice description.

And here is the last sentence in this second chapter:

“She quickly dressed, and moments later, as the limousine started to drive away, Nora called to Connor out the open back window. “I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”

 All I think here is, Duh!

 Each chapter has its own beginning and end. Each one tells us about Nora and Connor. Each one is drawing us a little further into the story with very few words we connect to the main character.

 Chapter three: Is less than five hundred words. Remember my guesstimate, at 250-per page.

First sentence: “Nora couldn’t stop staring at the dazzling ring for most of the ride to the Westchester airport. “

And then the last two sentences:“Before reaching for the door, she glanced at her watch. It was showtime.”

That word, ‘showtime’ changed the tone of the story. We can hear, see and feel the change.

“The first couple of chapters really set up the third chapter.” James Patterson.

This class you can post comments, videos, and download the workbook. Listening to James Patterson is worth the price of admission.

Sixth Video Lesson Outlines part 1 James Patterson’ MasterClass

 

Friday’s Lesson 6Outlines part 1’ of James Patterson’ MasterClass

Video Lesson 6
Video Lesson 6

James Patterson starts this lesson saying, “The most common mistake that writers make, especially young writers -is,”

For this part, he leans in towards the camera and raises his voice.

“That they don’t do an outline!” ……“You will do a better book and it will take less time”

What Your Outline Needs:

Everything should be in the outline: the arc of the main character and the villain. Your villains need to be complex.

James Patterson said, “Outlines should have a lot of promise.”

My take on this: Arcs in an outline that shows us  how the character changes, mentally and  physically. Maybe, how he overcomes or flops big time.  Ask yourself, what does your character want out of life? An easy question right? Most flesh and blood humans have no clue what they want out of life and it can take them, their entire lives to figure it out. Your characters won’t have that long. So start your outline by writing out what your character wants and how he or she will get it.

For my example let’s start with Sam.

  1. Sam wants to be a photojournalist.
  2. Sam took Full Sail online classes.
  3. Sam graduated.
  4. Sam couldn’t find a job so he decided to start his own, online blog.  
  5. Sam was taking pictures in the park and saw a man getting kidnapped.

I could add a little depth to Sam, by giving him a fear, a fear of leaving his house.

Do you see how I can build up this outline? Add in a friend for Sam, how about a love interest. Have a couple of real jobs that Sam has to complete. This is a very simple start to an outline. Try one yourself. Don’t think about it just write.

Okay back to James Patterson’s MasterClass.

Focus On The Story

The only time, James Patterson faces the blank page is when he starts the outline.

He tells us, “Don’t think about the sentences-write the story.”

Great advice. When I start worrying my writing comes to a screeching halt.

In this class, like the others, I can make comments or ask questions and it comes with a downloadable PDF for this lesson.

If you are curious about this class, click on the link, for James Patterson’s MasterClass.   In the upper left sidebar. Check it out.

Fifth Video Lesson Research James Patterson’s MasterClass

Friday’s Video Lesson 5  from James Patterson’s MasterClass.

For those who don’t understand these posts. I am taking James Patterson’s MasterClass. Every Friday I will post  a few words about what I learned and what I am pondering , about this lesson. This week is lesson five. If you have questions post them here. Or, if you want to join this class, then click the link in the left top sidebar.

James Patterson masterclass lesson five
James Patterson masterclass lesson five

This lesson is about the information you will need to fill out your story.

RESEARCH

“The more you BS when you are writing a book the worse it is” ~ James Patterson

SEEK INSPIRATION

“For male readers, details can never be enough. If you get it wrong you lose them. If you as a writer can’t get your facts straight, how can your readers believe anything in the story? Don’t fake it! Don’t make it up.”~ James Patterson

KNOW YOUR LOCATIONS

“If you are writing about a city it is important in your story you need to be there. Wandering around a new city, what do you notice?”~James Patterson

My thoughts went off in the direction of  drawing up a map. You will need a map of ‘where’ your story takes place.  Your characters won’t be floating in space. They need a place to live, to move around, to cause damage.

If your setting is in a city block, how many houses are on this street? If it is in the country or an apartment building, how many people live there? How many pets? How many kids? Where are the trees? Fences and the grocery store, the library? Just like in your neighborhood show where your characters’ take a walk, and how do they get to work? A bus? A car? Do they walk or jog or ride a bike?

Can’t draw. Then do a search on Google Maps. Try your own home address. Or go right to the location of your novel. Move the map around, find the right street. Make sure you have the local flavor, the grocery store, library, or coffee shop. You will see each street labeled. You can get in closer and explore the area right on ground level.

copy a map from google maps
copy a map from google maps

Try this with any town. Take a screen shot. Copy it out by hand or print it out. You have the beginnings of your setting. Your story map.

Be as detailed as you like

Now back to James Patterson’s MasterClass.

CONDUCT INTERVIEWS
James Patterson said, “Mostly you won’t have trouble getting an interview. People like to talk about what they do.”

I wonder if in his  first interview he was nervous?  Is he still nervous? I wonder if he was ever turned down for an interview?

With the Cross book, James Patterson had to learn about forensic psychology to make his book believable.

What I got out of this, was to write about what you know- then learn the rest. Talk to people. Find someone, who can do what you need to learn. Go to the library. Look on the Internet, ask questions, find the information then write about it.

As an example: You need to learn how to fly a hot air balloon. Check out the Internet. Find a company who will take you up in a hot air balloon. Then once you are up in the big blue yonder, you can start asking questions. Always be polite and request that interview instead of cornering people.

I just did a Google search on ‘Hot Air Balloon’ rides near me and found, Nostalgia Ballooning. So many beautiful pictures!

Lesson Five has a workbook,  a comment section, and a video critique if you have questions on this or any lesson, you can post a video for Mr. Patterson.

From me: read, read, read, you will learn a lot about how to write,  by reading and picking apart someone else’s stories.

See you next Friday for lesson six of James Patterson’s MasterClass. If you want to take this class, click on the link in the -top-left sidebar.

Fourth Video Lesson Plot James Patterson’s MasterClass

Lesson 4 Plot James Patterson's MasterClass
Lesson 4 Plot James Patterson’s MasterClass

Video Lesson 4 PLOT

“Story is about the thrills, and twists and turns, but more than anything else it’s about revealing character.” ~James Patterson

What I learned from Jim Patterson in lesson four.

  1. Characters are revealed by their action
  2. Try to write every chapter, as it was your first chapter in a book.
  3. Set out to write a number one story thriller, with a number one story idea.
  4. Don’t write a single chapter that doesn’t ‘t propel the story forward
  5. Leave out all the parts readers are going to skim.
  6. Tell my story, map out my story, in ten or fifteen minutes

James Patterson mentions E.M Forster and his famous description of a plot.

The king died and the queen died is a story

The king died and the queen died of grief, is a plot

What does this mean? What I see… When that Queen died from grief you can add the love story, the reason for her death. The cause of her death, from there you have the beginnings of a story. From there you add in the ‘why’ that Queen loved the King so much she died when he did. You will wonder how the King died. You get it?

James Patterson said to, “Find the conflict in your characters.”

He also used The Great Gatsby’s plot: Gatsby has everything anyone could dream of except love. Gatsby gets love. Gatsby loses love and loses everything. And that’s Gatsby.

The rest are all those questions, problems, and the reasons why Gatsby did what he did.

Listen carefully to lesson 4 video, do the assignment. Have a question ask it. Have a comment post it.  Watch that video as many times as you need to.

See you in class.

The writer finished James Patterson’s Masterclass.

The writer finished James Patterson’s Masterclass then wrote a mystery.

 

Third video lesson Raw Ideas James Patterson’s MasterClass

 

03 raw ideas

Video 3 lesson 3 RAW IDEAS

These are just a few points that stood out. There is a class video along  with a workbook and comments section.

“The more you know about, the more likely you are to combine things into an idea that is striking.”~ James Patterson

  1. What I got from this lesson.
  2. Men see things differently than woman do.
  3. Make an idea notebook
  4. Ask yourself: Can I write a whole book about this? Will people care?
  5. Write for yourself, then
  6. Write for your reader.
  7. Keep learning new things

James Patterson is frequently asked, “Where do you come up with your stories?”

He will come up with a title or some little thing will catch his eye. He explains he has a big folder of ideas, and that he can write a story about anything.

Anything?

James Patterson tells us, that he can get an idea from something he might spot on the street.

Let me think about this one. Gum, or doggy-do? Hmmm, maybe a bit of trash can lead your readers to a mystery.   I can see this.

Jimmy weaved up to his apartment door. The sun would be rising in a few minutes. Dizzy and exhausted he dropped his keys just as the wind picked up, blowing an empty bag of chips across his bloody Rockport’s.   He scooped up his keys as the empty chip bag skipped across a patch of grass and lodged under his neighbor’s car. …Maybe the chip bag had the blood, not his shoes, even better. 

He goes on to say that you need to find an idea that ‘you’ find interesting. Patterson states, “I don’t write realism.”

One of his favorite books is Honeymoon. Which just so happens to be the book used as an example through this class. If you haven’t read it, you can get a copy by clicking that link/app over to left side page. I am reading this book, it flows quickly, I am hooked. * I plan on picking the book apart in a different post.

When you take this class. Listen and listen well. That Ah-ha moment you are looking for may not hit you right away.

“You hope the book you are writing is spectacular.”~ James Patterson