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James Patterson MasterClass Review: From Raw Ideas to Publication

In my review of one of the original MasterClasses, I'll look in-depth at what guidance a bestselling author can provide on storytelling for aspiring authors.

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James Patterson MasterClass: Our Verdict (2023)


4.6 / 5

I recommend the James Patterson MasterClass for up-and-coming writers seeking practical insights and motivation. You can learn a thing or two from a prolific author like James Patterson – his focus on concrete techniques and systematic view of writing equips writers of all levels with valuable skills. If you’re looking to enhance your writing skills and need advice on how to pursue publishing your book, this MasterClass is a viable option.


  • Credibility of instructor
  • Practical guidance
  • Covers essential elements of the writing process
  • Engaging and well-produced video content


  • Would benefit from more structured teaching
  • Lacking supplemental materials
  • Occasional oversimplification of concepts

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It’s a daunting thing to sit down and start a book

Among famous novelists, James Patterson stands out with a remarkable 400 million plus books sold worldwide. His reputation as a master storyteller precedes him to the extent that he was among the first to be approached for publishing his course on MasterClass. And this course is what we’re here to take a closer look at in this review – to see how well he manages to translate his talents into teaching the secrets behind his acclaimed writing career.

Patterson has written a variety of books, from thrillers to romance, and they often top the New York Times bestseller list. His skill in crafting intricate plots, developing compelling characters, and maintaining gripping pacing is outstanding. In this review, we’ll break down the course content, look at how it’s taught, and decide if it’s a worthwhile investment for your writing journey. By the end, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether this MasterClass can genuinely enhance your writing skills and contribute to your creative journey.

Table of Contents

About the instructor: The literary maverick

James Patterson, Renowned Contemporary Storyteller
James Patterson, one of the most popular storytellers of our time

James Patterson is a prolific and bestselling American author renowned for his contributions to the literary world. He is best known for his mastery of the thriller and suspense genres, having authored numerous captivating novels. His ability to craft page-turning plots, memorable characters, and unexpected twists has garnered a massive readership.

Patterson’s most notable achievements include impressive book sales, becoming Forbes highest-paid author at a certain point, and holding the Guinness World Record for the most number one New York Times bestsellers. His books span genres and various series, including Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club, and Michael Bennett series, among many others. It comes as no surprise that he was the first to provide a MasterClass on writing.

While Patterson’s achievements as an author are unquestionable, what about his role as an instructor? I find that his teaching style is engaging and accessible overall. However, it is worth noting that since he is not a professional teacher, it’s not surprising that public speaking is not his forte. Some learners might find it challenging to follow the course material especially given intermittent jokes, frequent pauses, and slight digressions.

Course overview

The James Patterson MasterClass is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the art of storytelling and novel writing. Divided into multiple lessons, it covers various aspects of the craft, from generating raw ideas and developing characters to fashioning suspenseful plots. Each lesson is presented in video format and is no longer than 15 minutes in duration. This course can be completed in just under 4 hours, which is longer than many other courses on MasterClass.

One notable aspect is its focus on practicality. The course materials are relatively condensed and easy to follow. Patterson even shares his personal experiences, offering insights into the writing process that has propelled him to literary stardom. He provides actionable advice, emphasizing the importance of discipline, perseverance, and finding one’s unique voice as a writer.

To complement the lectures, students receive a class guide that further clarifies the concepts explored by Patterson. In addition to this, you gain access to an outline for his book Honeymoon. That said, learners are exposed to not only key concepts of writing but also an example of how Patterson himself applies them.

Whereas many courses on writing usually target beginners or writers who’ve never begun to write a single book, Patterson seems to aim for those who have some experience. That’s not to say it isn’t beginner-friendly. The practicality of the course tends to be geared towards actually improving learners’ writing skills. I don’t think it is best suited for published writers, but it is suitable for someone who has tried to put pen to paper and has the goal of publication.

Inside the classroom: Where imagination takes flight

I was really looking forward to diving into the mind of a prolific author in Patterson’s MasterClass – an educational experience that unravels the intricacies of storytelling.

When it comes to writing, especially writing books, you’ve got to start with some serious pre-writing game. Patterson’s got that down to a science. He’ll walk you through finding those marketable ideas, crafting characters with profound reader resonance, and weaving captivating plots. Plus, his expertise extends to the development of structured outlines that keep your story on track.

But there’s more to discover. Patterson offers tips on research, overcoming writer’s block, and keeping that narrative pace in check. Drawing from his extensive writing career, he guides you through all the crucial elements that support your writing process, culminating in those all-important opening lines.

Patterson really drives home the fact that those first sentences need some serious heart and soul. Underscoring the emotional investment necessary for the inception of a story. Then, he’s your guide to crafting engaging dialogue that brings your characters to life and adds a whole new dimension to your storytelling toolkit.

Once immersed in the writing journey, Patterson’s got your back on constructing killer chapters, nailing that book ending, and the nuances of the editing process. Infusing personal anecdotes, he gives you a peek into how he keeps that special writer-reader connection alive as he builds his chapters.

Furthermore, he drops some wisdom on preparing for the finale of your written work before entering the editing phase. 

Beyond the craft of writing itself, this MasterClass provides practical counsel on nurturing one’s passion for writing, navigating the path to publication, mastering the art of marketing, and even exploring co-authorship. Patterson’s course encompasses not only storytelling and writing but also the post-writing aspect – a comprehensive guide to the writing profession.

Patterson’s teaching style, adorned with engaging anecdotes and enthusiasm, bridges the gap between his remarkable success as an author and his role as an instructor. His inclusion of tangible, real-world examples significantly enhances the learning experience. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that some may perceive aspects of his teaching as simplistic at times. It occasionally lacks further elaboration, which leaves room for a deeper dive into the subtleties of genre, tone, and writing style, which could enhance the learning experience – especially for more experienced writers.

Favorite lessons: Pieces of wisdom

In this section, I will discuss the lessons from the James Patterson MasterClass that I find the most memorable.

Troubleshooting the outline

Emphasizing the Significance of Outlining
Highlighting the necessity and importance of the outline

Patterson is all about those detailed outlines. His perspective on outlining is a cornerstone of his writing philosophy. He is a strong advocate for detailed and expressive outlines, believing that they are the backbone of a successful narrative. He says, “the only time I ever face the blank page is when I start the outline.” The reason is that an outline is where most of the imagination underlying the novel writing is done. When a writer has an outline, they are able to maintain focus, keep the story on track, and boost their productivity. I personally find this encouraging. By systematizing your creativity into a concise outline, you can develop your story without getting lost in the creative process.

Judge a book by its cover

Illustrating the Influence of Book Titles and Covers
Showing the impact of book titles and covers

When I listened to Patterson’s views on book titles and covers, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the saying: don’t judge a book by its cover. I realize that the saying is not necessarily about actual books as much as it is about people and their personalities, but there is some deep wisdom to the fact that every book for sale will be judged by its cover. When potential buyers scan bookshelves, the first thing that will strike them about a book is precisely that. So, the right title and cover can be the difference between a book being overlooked or noticed. As an author, you want the latter.

Agents and publishing

Advice on approaching agents and publishers

I’ve never had a book published. In this lesson about getting published, I discovered that Patterson gives helpful guidance not only on how to begin pursuing agents or publishers, which are typically hard to get hold of given the sheer competition that’s out there, but also practical moves that writers can make when approaching them and how to do it in a convincing way. His advice on how to find agents, how to contact them, and how to develop a relationship with them is very intriguing.

Strengths of James Patterson's MasterClass

While there are many benefits of this course for aspiring writers, I would like to highlight the following aspects:

Credibility of instructor

The opportunity to learn directly from James Patterson is a standout feature of the MasterClass. His decades-long experience and prolific success in the publishing world lend a level of credibility and authenticity to the course that few others can match. Learning from a successful author’s personal experiences can be inspiring and motivating for those aspiring to achieve similar success.

Practical guidance

Patterson’s approach to teaching is grounded in practicality. He doesn’t just discuss abstract concepts; he provides concrete techniques and strategies that aspiring writers can immediately apply to their work. His emphasis on discipline and the writing process itself is invaluable for those looking to develop their writing.

Essential elements of the writing process

The course covers a broad spectrum of topics essential to the writing process. Whether you’re struggling with plot development or the nuances of character creation, there’s something here for writers of all levels. Patterson’s lessons are structured in a way that welcomes writers of all levels. A broad range of learners can benefit from his insights, making it an excellent choice for those just starting their writing journey.

Engaging and well-produced video content

The production quality of the course is impressive. The high-definition video lessons are well-edited and visually engaging, making it easy to stay immersed in the learning experience. Patterson’s personable teaching style, with a touch of humor, adds a relatable element to the lessons, making them more approachable.

Weaknesses of James Patterson's MasterClass

Although overall a very useful course, there are some aspects that could be improved with the James Patterson MasterClass, notably:

Genre-specific explorations

While the course covers a wide range of writing topics, it may not cater well to highly specialized or advanced writers seeking in-depth exploration of a specific genre or style. Although anecdotes and personal experiences are appreciated, I find that they dominate the course, occasionally detracting from a more structured learning experience. A better balance between storytelling and structured teaching could enhance the overall effectiveness of the course.

Need for supplemental materials

While Patterson provides valuable insights and practical lessons, some learners might find that the course lacks the depth needed to entertain certain aspects of storytelling. Many learners will want to seek out additional resources to complement their course.

Occasional oversimplification of concepts

There is a concern about the oversimplification of complex writing concepts. Even though Patterson’s teaching style is personable, he sometimes brushes over topics that could benefit further explanation. This leaves me with a desire for more comprehensive insights. For instance, how exactly can I develop a particular genre that I want to write about?

How much does James Patterson’s MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, and there’s no possibility to purchase courses individually. So, if you want to take james Patterson’s writing course, you have to subscribe to MasterClass.

The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $120 per year (down from the previous $180) or $10 per month. With the MasterClass subscription, you gain unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes. So, if you want to take multiple classes, a MasterClass subscription is certainly worth it; it ends up being somewhat expensive otherwise.

Also, the platform also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with the platform and your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Conclusion: Unleash your inner author

In summary, the James Patterson MasterClass offers an insightful journey into storytelling and novel writing. Learning directly from the renowned author himself adds credibility and motivation to the course. Patterson’s focus on practicality equips writers with tangible techniques, emphasizing discipline, creativity, and the writing process.

Even if it often seems to target writers with a bit of experience, most of the course caters to writers of all levels, making it a great choice even for beginners. The engaging video content, coupled with Patterson’s relatable teaching style, creates an immersive experience.

However, there are some things that can be improved. The course may not satisfy highly specialized or advanced writers looking for a deeper exploration of specific genres. The occasional oversimplification of complex concepts leaves room for more comprehensive insights.

To conclude, Patterson’s MasterClass is a valuable resource for writers seeking practical guidance on writing and inspiration for publishing books. It bridges the gap between Patterson’s success as an author and his role as an instructor – even though he is relatively untrained as a teacher.