At the Feet of the Master: A Review of James Patterson’s MasterClass on Writing
By Falcon Storm / First lines are important in writing, and a writing MasterClass is no different. So when you see James Patterson opens by saying, “Hi, I’m Stephen King,” you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.
I’ll admit that I haven’t been the most committed student to this course, but I also think that’s the benefit of a home-based, learn-as-you-want course like this one. Life has cropped up several times, and I’ve had to put James on hold in order to deal with a sick baby or an urgent website update (mine not the MasterClass one) or any number of family obligations. No matter what has been going on in my life and keeping me from Mr. Patterson’s wisdom, I've truly enjoyed being able to click in during my free time to catch up with my writing guru, who is always waiting and ready to pass along more sage advice.
So is this some glowing love letter to James Patterson? Hm… I guess it is. Before you write me off as some fanboy with a life-sized cutout of James Patterson that shares the bed with me and my wife, let me explain. I have not read a single James Patterson novel. I’ve bought one or two and they’re currently in my to-read pile. Yes, I enjoyed seeing him in those early episodes of Castle. But the reason I’m writing this very positive review is… well, it’s several things.
Consider for a moment how much money James Patterson is worth. He lives the author dream and definitely doesn’t need the money associated with offering a course like this. But still, there he is, encouraging you, me, and everyone else to write. You can tell from the videos in this course that he isn’t doing this out of some obligation or because he’s under threat of torture; he genuinely loves writing and talking about it to aspiring authors (as well as authors that aren’t as successful as him, which, let’s face it, is pretty much the rest of us).
I could go on, but chances are you’re here for a review of the course, so let’s get to that. I have pages and pages (in Pages, ironically) of notes detailing the information James covers in his videos. Several of my own thoughts on writing were confirmed (which is a BIG confidence booster coming from an author of Mr. Patterson’s caliber) and several things that had never even crossed my mind were also brought up.
In fact, I was learning so much so fast that I somehow missed the fact that this course is actually taught in two parts. It also has a great community of writers, authors, and everything in between, all asking and answering questions. Much like a classroom, even if you just sit there and observe, you gain plenty, but, if you need more, you can always raise your electronic hand (metaphorically, of course) and get more information.
Another amazing course component? The PDF files! The included workbook of lessons and exercises included with the course simply blew my mind. I’m still going through all of this material and suspect I will be for some time, not because of the length of the material or because it’s dense reading. Quite the opposite. It’s so easy and learning friendly, that I find myself wanting to go back a couple lessons and do the assignments again for another project or repeat them because I enjoyed them so much.
You may balk at the price ($90 as of writing this review), I know at one point in time I would have. But the videos alone were worth it to me. Everything else feels like bonus content.
Also, compare this to the cost of tuition for even a semester of creative writing at your local college. Not only will such a course cost a lot more, but it also won't have anywhere near the same amount of information now will it be taught by someone with quite as much practical experience as James Patterson. Take a moment to consider your career. I’m sure you’ve invested in all sorts of things for writing. A laptop? Some research books? Pens and paper? Where do you draw the line when it comes to investing in your career?
Wherever you draw that line, this course should be on the buy side of it.
This is an investment in your career, hell, in yourself. Why wouldn’t you want to get advice from someone that has taken this journey and is willing to teach you about the ups and downs?
To the naysayers out there who gripe that this course doesn’t offer enough marketing advice or that it doesn’t cover this or that aspect of publishing: First off, the class is called “James Patterson Teaches Writing.” I think that’s pretty up front about things. It’s like complaining that a course on juggling doesn’t offer unicycle riding. Oh, wait a second, what’s this at lesson #17 – Getting Published? Well maybe he just…
“Author of 76 best-sellers and holder of the Guinness World Record for the first person to sell over 1 million eBooks, James knows a thing or two about getting published. In this lesson he shares what he's learned.”
Oh yeah. That’s right, this is based on his experience. But is that all? Nope, he goes into several non-writing aspects that you’ll want to know about, including:
- Working with a co-author
- Book titles and covers
- Marketing (the James Patterson way)
- and even what to do if Hollywood takes an interest in your book!
Looks to me like there’s plenty of information there for people that want more than just writing advice.
Here’s the thing, you may be a seasoned author who thinks you know what you need to know about writing; you may be a starry-eyed rookie, looking to become the next big thing. Whatever your level of experience you need to remember, before you fill your bowl, it needs to be empty. So forget everything you think you might know about writing, and get ready to learn from a Master.
P.S. Thank you, Mr. Patterson, for all you’re doing to advance the art of authoring.
Falcon Storm was born in the frozen wastelands of Alaska. All that time spend in the dank, dark cold was quite enough, so he moved far, far away to the slightly-less-cold state of Michigan and now continues to seek out warmth by making others laugh. From role-playing games to spinning tall tales, he's always been a storyteller. These days he writes about funny and fantastical worlds set just beneath the surface of our own and works from home assisting in the day-to-day operations of Novel Publicity and raising his and Melissa's sassafras daughter, Phoenix. Find out more on his website www.falconstormbooks.com or by social media: Tumblr, YouTube, or GoodReads.