My Review of the James Patterson Writing Course by Anita Cox
I contemplated this post for a while, well, since I took the course two weeks ago. I formulated a very professional blog post written in a true review format. First, it doesn’t do Mr. Patterson any justice. Second, I was bored by paragraph two.
So I’m going to give it to you straight, speaking to you like any other colleague.
Like many professionals, I spend a lot of time honing my craft. I read blogs, take classes, and try to find any piece of information that could help me (without breaking the bank.) When I saw THE James Patterson was teaching a writing class, I looked into it. The class is almost $100. I hesitated.
Another week went by and I finally clicked the “Buy Now” button. I began watching the videos, which has a “What we’re gonna tell you,” intro. Then we are introduced to THE James Patterson. Yes, I’m fangirling a bit. But it’s THE James Patterson.
I digress. He is engaging. When he took a shot of what I think was Ouzo, I decided I’d like to party down with him. As a matter of fact, we’re now close buddies and I call him Jim. I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am that he offered to paint my toes. The minute my little piggies were manicured to their prettiest, he braided my hair and we chatted about Ink Masters. When he asked me to co-author his next novel Fantasies of an Indie Author, I nearly choked on my Tom Collins. Who am I to say ‘no’ to JIM?
Okay, most of the above paragraph is fantasy. Jim is engaging . He did take a shot of something, which I found entertaining. He talks a lot about his history, how he spent years miserable in advertising before making it big as an author. He writes 365 days a year. That’s right…according to THE James Patterson, he does not miss writing one day. Jim is a tad bit A.D.D. He talks about getting frustrated with an MS, going to a movie, only to leave said movie part of the way in to go back home and write. He likes to golf. (Yes, the videos are just like this…it’s all about Jim.)
And then we get into the nuts and bolts. But not really. So here’s where we get into the review aspect.
The Good: After taking this class, I felt re-inspired. He talked about the novel…his first Alex Cross novel, the one that breaks through. He talks about writing in the first person and third person limited. Mr. Patterson discusses his agent (who is a lawyer and not an actual agent.) His piece of wisdom about movie rights: Take the money and run. Oh, and have a good sense of humor. They’ll change your story. You’re no more important than the caterer. No one really knows why the hell you’re there. (That kind of stuff.)
The Bad: This isn’t even Writing 101. He didn’t talk about pacing, plot structure, prose…This isn’t an actual writing class at all. I’ve found more useful information for free on Kristen Lamb’s blog.
Also, he talks about this from a traditional publishing aspect (with a Big 6 Publisher.) So if you’re self-pubbed or Indie, most of it won’t even apply to you. If you want to be published by a major publisher, then be prepared to have little or no control. Remember, his first novel was published in 1976. Things have changed in the last 39 years…in a big way. Sure, his publisher will accept anything with James Patterson’s name on it now. Because he’s James Patterson. The path he took to get where he is…it just isn’t a path that exists anymore.
It should be noted that while his first break was in 1976, he didn’t retire from advertising and write full time until 1996. That’s right—he worked full time and wrote on the side.
Overall, I’m glad I took the class but it wasn’t worth almost $100. It wasn’t even worth $50 to me. If you’re looking to get insider scoop, the key to success, or any knowledge about the craft of writing, you’re not going to get it. You will get anecdotal information about how he crafts a story, and how he uses co-writers to write most of his novels now.