James Patterson is known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross.
“His books have sold more than 300 million copies and he holds the Guinness World Record for being the first person to sell 1 million e-books. In 2016, Patterson topped Forbes’s list of highest-paid authors for the third consecutive year, earning $95 million.” (Wikipedia)
Novelist and journalist Joyce Maynard comments in her article about being a student of his:
“I could hate the man for selling so many more books than I do. Or I could humbly acknowledge that maybe the guy knows something I don’t, and sign up for his class.
“Confession: At the time I signed up for James Patterson’s class, I had never actually read a novel by James Patterson.
“This didn’t keep me from having a low opinion of the man’s oeuvre. He was pandering to the masses, I told myself. Churning out schlock.”
But, she adds, “here’s where another voice piped up in me.
“Over my many years of publishing my work (novels that may sell 5,000, or 10,000, or if I’m really on a roll, 20,000 copies, to James Patterson’s millions), one thing I’ve acquired is respect for readers.
“Readers may not be the ultimate arbiters of what makes great art, but they can sense a good story, and even more so, sense when something is inauthentic or written from a place of cynicism or contempt.
“If a writer approaches his or her story with the simple goal of selling a lot of books, the reader is likely to smell it, and stay away.
“Something in the work of James Patterson has kept readers ponying up their dollars over the course of a career that now includes 76 best sellers.
“Maybe I could learn a thing or two about what this quality might be. Maybe I could even acquire it?”
[Photo from her Facebook page.]
She considers the investment in the class worthwhile:
“Even if a person never finishes her novel, or finds an agent, or gets her work published, James Patterson will no doubt leave her feeling fired up to write a story.
“It will inspire people, and make them happy. It will not put them down.
“What James Patterson is selling here, as much as anything is a glimpse at the dream, and the feeling that it might actually be possible.”
From An Accomplished Writer Takes a ‘MasterClass’ From a Gargantuan Selling Writer
– What James Patterson had to teach me about writing—and selling—books, By Joyce Maynard • Observer 08/04/15
One of Maynard’s books: Under the Influence: A Novel.
James Patterson’s MasterClass | Official Trailer
In the video, Patterson notes:
“A really terrific sports writer named Red Smith said writing is easy – all you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead…
“Outlines are huge, how to create a scene… Be careful of ‘Oh I’ve got it figured out, I don’t want to read anymore’ – that’s death.”
Other students in the James Patterson Writing Class:
“One of the most important things I’ve learned in James’ MasterClass is to keep going and push through with your writing. If you face rejection, especially from yourself, do not give up on your work.” Sarah Smothers, LaGrange Park, Illinois
“I knew outlines were important, but before I took the class, they felt like the pragmatic opponent to free writing. But they’re not.” Jacob Turner, Madison, Wisconsin
MasterClass programs currently available online include James Patterson, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Werner Herzog, Aaron Sorkin, Annie Leibovitz, Frank Gehry, Shonda Rhimes, Malcolm Gladwell, Judd Apatow, Thomas Keller, Ron Howard and others.