12 Invaluable Writing Tips I learned from James Patterson’s Masterclass
Updated: Jan 23, 2019
First, let me tell you a little about James Patterson. He is the world’s bestselling author and is the first author in history to have #1 books on New York Times Children and Adult’s bestseller lists simultaneously. He is also the current Guinness World Record holder for having the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. And according to the Forbes’ list, James Patterson is the highest-paid author in 2016.
Two years ago, I took his Masterclass’ online writing course and I want to share with you some important lessons I learned from him.
KEEP THE PASSION ALIVE
“Don’t sit there like ‘Oh, I don’t feel like it today. I don’t feel like it tomorrow. Well, feel like it! Do it! Force yourself!’”, said James Patterson. I know it sounds a little herculean, but I followed that advice and it worked. There were days when I felt like dragging myself to write but with discipline and persistence, it became possible. I finished my book.
“Whatever the setbacks are, keep the passion alive!” - James Patterson
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
As a writer, we have to. We have to believe in ourselves even if they don’t. To encourage you, James Patterson didn’t succeed on his first book. Everywhere he sent it to, it was rejected, and it never got published. But, he did not stop believing.
“It took me into my forties before people really believe into my kind of writing.” - James Patterson
He started writing at the age of nineteen.
WRITE YOUR IDEAS DOWN
Yes, write them down…on a notepad, on a tissue paper, on your mobile phone, wherever you want to write them down, just write them down as much as possible.
“Unless you’re really, really, smart...unbelievably smart.” - James Patterson
Research can help with your self-confidence because you know what you’re talking about.
DO AN OUTLINE
James Patterson said the biggest mistakes that writers do, especially young writers is that they don’t do an outline. He said everything should be in the outline - the characters, the heroes, the villains, etc. And when you’re writing a story, you don’t think about the sentences but the story. Sketch your outline, write scenes and add more!
Once you have the outline, start writing.
CREATE CONFLICT IN YOUR STORY
James Patterson said that one of the keys of drama is conflict. Create strong adversaries and make your main character be a worthy opponent. Even the villain has to be a worthy opponent like “I don’t know how to defeat this villain…”.
TAKE A BREAK
Yes! You don’t need to torture yourself.
“I’m writing 7 days a week and I love it! I don’t wanna be away from it, I don’t wanna stop, but if you need a break, take a break!” - James Patterson
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect on the first draft. The more you do it, the more you'll get better. James Patterson said that if you feel blocked or stuck, write TBD on that chapter and move on.
“Even if it isn’t good yet, it’s okay. You’re learning…” - James Patterson
ANALYZE YOUR FAVORITE ENDINGS
Analyze the endings of your favorite movies. How did it make you feel? What worked and didn’t work?
“...write down everything that could possibly happen, absolutely everything… bullet after bullet after bullet, then pick the most outrageous one of them that makes sense.” - James Patterson
DON’T BE AFRAID TO REWRITE
“...I’m just doing a book, humans bow down, and I’ve rewritten that chapter a few times already and it’s been a different first line every time because I need to feel involved as I want the reader to feel.” - James Patterson
STAY POSITIVE DURING THE EDIT
“No, you didn’t make mistakes, you’re just making it better…” - James Patterson
DON’T GIVE UP, KEEP WRITING!