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brainstorm77
07-04-2015, 08:58 PM
https://www.masterclass.com/classes/james-patterson-teaches-writing I saw this on Facebook. Isn't he the author who no longer writes his own books? It looks like he is now teaching a writing class.

I have to confess that I have never read one of his books so I cannot comment on them.

Crap! I meant for this to be posted in the discussions section. Can a mod move this please?

William Haskins
07-04-2015, 09:00 PM
james patterson is a set of nesting dolls.

Filigree
07-04-2015, 09:05 PM
James Patterson is not so much a writer as a brand, by now. Great, what the universe needs, more people writing like JP. Yawn.

BenPanced
07-04-2015, 10:01 PM
Hire somebody to write for you.
Give them the idea to write.
Put your name on the cover over theirs, in larger typeface.
?
Profit!

CassandraW
07-04-2015, 10:16 PM
james patterson is a set of nesting dolls.

Nonsense. He's not nearly that complex.

RichardGarfinkle
07-04-2015, 10:22 PM
Mod Note: Moving to Roundtable. Hold on.
Not Mod Here Note: And you see. Here we are.

ShaunHorton
07-04-2015, 10:32 PM
Basically, it's a collection of videos of Patterson rambling about a few subjects that they're charging people $90 to watch.

I honestly don't see anything in the lesson descriptions that makes me think there's any original tips or information that can't easily be gotten for free in dozens of other places, including on this forum.

The class looks just like his books. Someone else probably wrote the script, and then they paid to slap his name on it, assuming some people will be gullible enough to throw money at them just based on that.

Kylabelle
07-04-2015, 10:35 PM
Even a set of nesting dolls who is a writer falls within the RYFW container, so please keep that in mind when commenting on this topic.

Thanks.

(I think it was the third doll in who said that.)

DanaeMcB
07-04-2015, 10:39 PM
From what I've read of James Patterson, it sounds like his strength (and his background) is in marketing. This may include judging well how to satisfy and engage a target audience, how to get the word out and get a buzz going around a book, and what to write to build up an established reader base. If his class addressed these topics, I think it could be very valuable. But the website says the course focuses on the WRITING part of authorship (except for one or two videos), and though I have not read much of Mr. Patterson's work, my understanding is that writing craft is not his strongest point. I have a hard time believing that his videos would be of more value than craft books already put out by authors such as James Scott Bell, Donald Maass, etc.

Kylabelle
07-04-2015, 10:49 PM
This article looks like it has lots of good detail in it (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/magazine/24patterson-t.html)

For example, I didn't know that Patterson ran the North American branch of J. Walter Thompson ad agency before becoming an author. So, yep, definitely a marketing background. The article also quotes his editor at Little, Brown as saying that Patterson is "at the very least co-publisher of his own books." He runs the show, apparently.

I haven't finished reading it, but it's quite thorough in describing his process, stable of co-authors, and the publishing personnel on his team.

His MC, Alex Cross, I remember initially thinking was an intriguing character but I lost interest after about the second or third book I read. To my taste it all turned into a sort of soap opera, but then, those are quite popular and there's nothing wrong with that.

I suspect Patterson is at the least a competent wordsmith, and that it is his marketing and business savvy that have made his brand.

blacbird
07-04-2015, 11:01 PM
From what I've read of James Patterson, it sounds like his strength (and his background) is in marketing.

I believe he was an advertising exec. Two or three years ago, as I recall, an extensive interview with him was published in one of the major national magazines (Atlantic, maybe?), in which he was totally unapologetic about his Henry Ford-style fiction factory and how it functions.

caw

blacbird
07-04-2015, 11:03 PM
Even a set of nesting dolls who is a writer falls within the RYFW container, so please keep that in mind when commenting on this topic.

Being respectful of another writer doesn't carry with it the implication that you can't be critical of either the writing or the process that produced it.

caw

Kylabelle
07-05-2015, 12:40 AM
I believe he was an advertising exec. Two or three years ago, as I recall, an extensive interview with him was published in one of the major national magazines (Atlantic, maybe?), in which he was totally unapologetic about his Henry Ford-style fiction factory and how it functions.

caw

See my post just before yours -- maybe that's the article?

Kylabelle
07-05-2015, 12:43 AM
Being respectful of another writer doesn't carry with it the implication that you can't be critical of either the writing or the process that produced it.

caw


Correct. And being critical of someone's writing and sniping at the person doing the writing are two different things.

'Twas just a reminder, in any case.

Haggis
07-05-2015, 01:23 AM
Next you people are going to tell me that Franklin W. Dixon didn't write the Hardy Boys books.

CassandraW
07-05-2015, 01:30 AM
I'm afraid Franklin W. Dixon is a faberge egg, pup.

Haggis
07-05-2015, 01:37 AM
I'm afraid Franklin W. Dixon is a faberge egg, pup.
:cry:

jjdebenedictis
07-05-2015, 03:16 AM
Whoo, what's a faberge egg doing writing novels? They obviously don't need the money; they all live in palaces.

CassandraW
07-05-2015, 04:33 AM
They're not in it for the money, jj. Not like those damn nesting dolls.

BenPanced
07-05-2015, 05:48 AM
They have an ointment for that.

Cyia
07-05-2015, 06:10 AM
No one's asked the important question yet.

Is the course called: Unputdownable

:D

Brightdreamer
07-05-2015, 08:03 AM
No one's asked the important question yet.

Is the course called: Unputdownable

:D

Unlikely. Judging by the comments here, apparently it is amply putdownable. ;)

gothicangel
07-05-2015, 03:08 PM
His books aren't my kind of thing, but he's sold a shit ton of books, and made a shit ton of money in response. If you want to write the same type of books, then I can't think of anyone better to study than Patterson. You could of course do what I do when I study certain authors is search YouTube for videos, rather than spending on a course.

Brightdreamer
07-05-2015, 08:54 PM
His books aren't my kind of thing, but he's sold a shit ton of books, and made a shit ton of money in response. If you want to write the same type of books, then I can't think of anyone better to study than Patterson. You could of course do what I do when I study certain authors is search YouTube for videos, rather than spending on a course.

For marketing? Yeah, he's worth studying. Heck, even him offering this course is a study in marketing. Then again, Thomas Kinkaide was a good study in marketing, too. (IIRC, by the end he was putting maybe three brushstrokes total on "his" works, relying on "assistants" to do the rest, and his network of high-pressure galleries to do the selling. But apparently he started out doing his own work... I don't know enough about JP to know if it's similar for him, if he wound up with his current business model due to success and didn't start out to be a brand more than an author, as he seems to be now.)

Usher
07-05-2015, 11:00 PM
Next you people are going to tell me that Franklin W. Dixon didn't write the Hardy Boys books.

*snort* that was my thought a few posts back ;)

Still love the Hardy Boys.

ShaunHorton
07-05-2015, 11:15 PM
I can't help wondering if the Ghost writers know who they're writing for, and if they get paid a flat fee or a royalty, considering how much "James Patterson" books roll in.

dda27101
07-06-2015, 06:51 PM
You write anything like the books he’s published lately and forget getting an agent…or publisher.
Nut he's making $$$...and for many that's the end game.

tylermarab1987
07-08-2015, 08:47 AM
Hire somebody to write for you.
Give them the idea to write.
Put your name on the cover over theirs, in larger typeface.
?
Profit!


QFT

tylermarab1987
07-08-2015, 08:50 AM
You write anything like the books he’s published lately and forget getting an agent…or publisher.
Nut he's making $$$...and for many that's the end game.
Yep, he's a businessman turned writer, or a writer turned businessman. IDK which, but I hate him because I'm jealous. I just want people to read my junk. He gets people to read junk HE DIDN'T EVEN WRITE, and he makes millions...

dondomat
07-08-2015, 11:07 AM
Mr. Patterson's first novels--from the 1970's--are pretty badass. Including Season of the Machete (http://www.general-ebooks.com/read/100203752), (link to sample) which he himself puts down, now that he's older*. But it was pretty well written. Just like his first one.

The Patterson of today plays a super important role--he has a franchise empire based on making non-readers read, and then keeping them reading. Every generation needs at least one giant of this stature. Otherwise civilizations collapses. Millions upon millions became readers because of various boy wizards and vampires and shit, others became readers because of the franchise novels accompanying their favorite video games or films or serials, and other still became readers because of Mr. Patterson's empire, and the man is doing this quite consciously.

And whereas I can't read more than a few pages of a Potter, Twilight, or Murder Club book without recoiling from the style (unless different language, sometimes I shop round and try a translation into a 2nd language, and if that doesn't work--into a 3rd language--until I stop seeing the prose and only see the story, but even then one book per author once a decade is my limit)--I also can't deny the massive contribution to society the existence of these franchises provide. If one in a thousand new readers becomes a regular reader--it has been worth it.

If one wants to learn actual writing from Mr. Patterson, one best stick to his early stuff, but if one wants to learn successful storytelling and franchising--the Patterson of today is indeed the man. In theory. In practice--I don't know if he would actually divulge useful stuff. Mr. King certainly didn't, in his On Writing...

_______
* A popular affliction among older writers like Patterson, Koontz, McCammon, Ramsey Campbell, who either try to pretend they didn't write what they wrote when they were much younger, or sadly make jokes about how lame their early efforts were. This is why artists shouldn't be allowed to judge their own works--Patterson, Koontz, McCammon, Campbell have terrific stuff from their "writerly youth", but are obviously only able to see the weaknesses. Just like certain bands who re-record old albums "correctly", completely ruining the original sound which brought in their first fans.

Kylabelle
07-08-2015, 01:06 PM
Yep, he's a businessman turned writer, or a writer turned businessman. IDK which, but I hate him because I'm jealous. I just want people to read my junk. He gets people to read junk HE DIDN'T EVEN WRITE, and he makes millions...

I'll link again the article I linked upstream: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/magazine/24patterson-t.html

A couple of people asked how the co-author thing works:


The way it usually works, Patterson will write a detailed outline — sometimes as long as 50 pages, triple-spaced — and one of his co-authors will draft the chapters for him to read, revise and, when necessary, rewrite. When he’s first starting to work with a new collaborator, a book will typically require numerous drafts. Over time, the process invariably becomes more efficient. Patterson pays his co-authors out of his own pocket. On the adult side, his collaborators work directly and exclusively with Patterson. On the Y.A. side, they sometimes work with Patterson’s young-adult editor, who decides when pages are ready to be passed along to Patterson.


There's more, like about how one writer got hired for the gig. I realize this article is the very essence of tl;dr but, yanno, here it is.

I get being jealous, but I think the description "junk he didn't even write" is pretty clearly incorrect.

Patterson certainly is a unique phenomenon. We sure can't all start our writing careers by heading the North American branch of the largest (or one of the -- ) ad agency in the world.

I also wonder, regarding this article, how much it is a "positioned" PR piece, designed to make readers sympathetic with Patterson, even though understandably jealous, or marveling at his truly bizarre level of success, or the like. I admit, I have "mined" the article for information, but it really is tl;dr.

quicklime
07-10-2015, 09:49 AM
I believe he was an advertising exec. Two or three years ago, as I recall, an extensive interview with him was published in one of the major national magazines (Atlantic, maybe?), in which he was totally unapologetic about his Henry Ford-style fiction factory and how it functions.

caw

re: his strength being in marketing, this is true. And more power to him. It isn't what I'd choose as my career as a writer any more than I'd choose as a scientist to be one of the folks who used to work at RJ Reynolds and places "debunking" cancer links but in his case he isn't even hurting anyone. So I fail to share the animosity: not my business model, but it is his, he does well with it, and from what I hear he treats his underlings pretty damn well.

That said, it does seem a bit hard to imagine him giving up pearls of wisdom on how to break in as a more traditional novelist given his very unique business model, and as also noted up-thread, I highly doubt he is offering anything one can't find a dozen other places.

quicklime
07-10-2015, 10:02 AM
In practice--I don't know if he would actually divulge useful stuff. Mr. King certainly didn't, in his On Writing...

_______
* A popular affliction among older writers like Patterson, Koontz, McCammon, Ramsey Campbell, who either try to pretend they didn't write what they wrote when they were much younger, or sadly make jokes about how lame their early efforts were. This is why artists shouldn't be allowed to judge their own works--Patterson, Koontz, McCammon, Campbell have terrific stuff from their "writerly youth", but are obviously only able to see the weaknesses. Just like certain bands who re-record old albums "correctly", completely ruining the original sound which brought in their first fans.

side point entirely: McCammon, ironically, wrote far better in his youth, I believe. Ditto Bradbury--he wasn't in the original list above and I don't know that he ever shit on his early work, just adding him in there--he always wrote incredibly well but his very early stuff is just much better. And Koontz I used to devour, then got sick of magic dogs, and in looking back through stuff like Strange Highways I have come to decide Deano was never one to let story get in the way of moralizing with a heavy hand......

as for King, I believe a lot of his stuff in On Writing was solid. He over-sold some things a bit, and then folks decided they were absolutes, and we had a King-specific round of teeth-gnashing over things like adverbs and if they were ever, ever permissible (side-sidebar: that shit makes my eyes want to bleed--I believe if you want to be a writer, or anything else, then sorting the absolute truth, the half-truth, and the bullshit is YOUR responsibility and King might have been clearer, as might a hundred other authors, but fuck....sometimes folks who want to learn need to sack up......) but a lot of his advice was on pretty sound ground.

The only place I feel he really ran aground (and when he did he was going full-steam) was his explanation of how to break in through short fiction, which was a model that was waning for some 20 years before he claimed it was the norm in On Writing....that one I fault him for entirely. At the same time that isn't limited to him, or writing--ask a bunch of professors at an undergraduate institution about how to get into grad school and what your job outlook is post-doctorate, for example, and same fucking thing: They know what they know, and what they know is the market of twenty, thirty years ago. Not necessarily the market of today.

Kylabelle
08-05-2015, 11:04 PM
Here is a review of the course (http://observer.com/2015/08/an-accomplished-writer-takes-a-master-class-from-a-gargantuan-selling-writer/), by an accomplished and well-published author who took it.

Loverofwords
08-06-2015, 12:17 AM
His books are definitely short, and so are his chapters. I'll admit I liked two of his books when I was younger (I can't remember the name), but the rest are not good.

I also heard about his writing classes and snorted to myself because I couldn't believe it. With all the rumors and facts flying around online that he doesn't write his own books, I just don't understand how or why he can open up a writing class.

Kylabelle
08-06-2015, 12:54 AM
Well, if you read that article you might find out a few things. I'm neither for nor against his class but I do observe that his success financially and otherwise sure generates a lot of energy. :)

One thing that author (the one who took the class and reported on it) pointed out was that while she had started out more or less turning up her nose at Patterson's work, she decided he might have a thing or two to teach about writing a best seller and that she was interested in that.

One other thing she mentioned which I appreciated was how Patterson was always supportive and encouraging of people's creativity and abilities. I like that whenever it shows up, via successful people or not so successful ones.

There's a longer article linked upthread, as well, which gives a lot of detail about Patterson's early career. Just in case you want some information.

Liosse de Velishaf
08-06-2015, 02:45 AM
I'm sure there's some standard and decent writing advice in that class. It won't actually teach you how to write a best-seller, though.

Kylabelle
08-06-2015, 02:51 AM
Of course not. Nor is that the claim.

I just thought it was of interest, maybe, what actually IS in the class, how it's structured, and one person's experience of it (someone who is herself a published novelist and also teaches writing, for that matter.)

Liosse de Velishaf
08-07-2015, 01:40 AM
I agree. But I've seen the class itself advertised as "How to Write a Best-seller", which it can't teach. It does teach some of the methods JP has found work for him, which is totally a reasonable class for people who want to follow in JP's footsteps at least to an extent. That's what I was trying to say.

Kylabelle
08-07-2015, 01:48 AM
Gotcha. :)

I'm not about to take the class, by the way. It's not for me at all, and anyway ninety bucks is big money in my world.

Still, I find it interesting to learn some details about the industry that is James Patterson -- how it all works -- and as well the reports that he is a likeable guy and doesn't cop any kind of superior attitude.

As a matter of fact, the things I have read about him and about this course (admittedly not all that much) are so positive in their effect upon any opinion I might be forming of him as a person and as a, may I say, a force in contemporary publishing, that I suspect them of being crafted as such.

It's easy for us to sit around and entertain and share negative expectations of such a person -- but I would be really interested to see if there are any as it were bad reviews of the course, or any counter examples of his apparently easy-going and democratic personality out there.... I haven't run across any.

stormie
08-07-2015, 03:50 AM
If J.Patterson wrote a book about writing, like S.King did, that would maybe be feasible. Just can't see paying $90 to take his classes.

Laer Carroll
08-08-2015, 07:02 AM
I'm pretty good at writing settings and characters. But I'm not at all good at plotting. Any success I've had at that has been at the expense of a lot of sweat.

I read the AW sticky thread Learning to Plot (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?163356-Learning-to-Plot) and that helped. So did chapters on plotting in some books on writing. But when I came across the ad for Patterson's class in writing I considered it. Patterson is an acknowledged genius at that skill. So I researched the class.

It includes 22 lectures by Patterson. The topics are pretty standard, included in just about every book on fiction writing. I couldn't see how Patterson could offer any insights on those topics that I haven't already encountered in the many books and articles I've studied - including, incidentally, lots of good advice I found in AW.

One thing turned me off was that Patterson is strong on planning your book beforehand and creating a detailed outline. For some people this a good, even terrific, way to go. It's natural for them. It's not for me.

I am an improviser. Taking the outline route would totally kill the writing experience for me. Much of my love of writing is discovering the story as I go along.

(I do start out with a plan. It goes like this. John M loses his daughter to kidnappers. He quits his job, trains to be a ninja, and sets out to find her. And if she's dead, insure every one of her kidnappers is too.)

I also was not impressed with the fact that student writing samples are critiqued by other students. I've participated in three writing courses and four intensive workshops. Very rarely did any of the students impress me with their understanding.

(The one workshop I was in where I was impressed most writers in it had been published at least in some small way. Which itself did not impress me; the quality of their criticisms did.)

I wouldn't mind the $90 or the time spent if the class helped me. I judge it would not.

Versailles
08-22-2015, 11:02 PM
Joyce Maynard took his course and wrote about it:
http://observer.com/2015/08/an-accomplished-writer-takes-a-master-class-from-a-gargantuan-selling-writer/
Quite interesting and it inspired me to sign up. I'm about 1/2 way through, some nuggets here and there and overall it's quite interesting, even if not totally relevant.
Also I get to lie on my couch in the middle of the day and watch the video and call it "research work".

Laer Carroll
08-23-2015, 02:12 AM
Thanks, Versailles. The read was well worth it. I still feel the course is not for me. But for others, those with the right needs and tastes and talents, it could be a life changer.

Fullon_v4.0
08-24-2015, 09:32 PM
Patterson always did strike me as weird. Either he was 1000 words per minute madman filled with ideas or he had a basement of angst-filled teens putting together thriller and SF books for minimum wage....and his advertisements on TV...ARGHGDFHBVKCJE!!! Rowling didn't need those, why does he?

Anyway...I am curious about how useful a class by him(?[!]) would be...anyone wanna forward me the 90 bucks, I'll take the class and report back to ya'll? XD :ROFL:

Kylabelle
08-24-2015, 10:20 PM
Couple of articles linked upthread will give you a clue how the collaboration -- it isn't really ghostwriting -- works. Far from minimum wage slaves in some basement. It's easy to cast verbal barbs at the wildly successful, isn't it?

You can read about the class too, in that last link upstairs. Lots of detail.

Maybe a little information will make a little RYFW a little easier. (I think I've made that suggestion before, in this thread....)

:)

Fuchsia Groan
09-02-2015, 08:10 AM
I know and interviewed one of Patterson's collaborators. He's a cool guy (who has also published solely under his own name), and he seemed happy with the whole thing. Granted, those were his comments on record, but in general I got the impression it was a good (and profitable) working relationship, even though he'd like to strike out on his own again one day.

Kylabelle
09-02-2015, 01:26 PM
Thanks for that info, FG. I got the same impression from the articles I read, that it's a decent gig and held by accomplished writers. As it should be, given the resources available.