Since I published my first novel four years ago, I’ve been waiting to hear from James Patterson. In my wildest daydreams, he asks me to coauthor a book with him. I’m also an avid reader of his suspense books and admire his creativity and no-nonsense writing style. So when I saw that he was offering a writing class for authors, I signed up.
Why I signed up
1) I need help changing from a Pantser to an Outliner.
I am a true, write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants author and harbor a strong resistance to any form of outlining, despite trying every method I’ve come across. In an interview with Patterson, I heard that he does fifty-page outlines. I figured if the master of outlining can’t inspire me to change, no one can.
2) I want to entertain my readers
Scoff at Patterson’s style all you want—(it is no accident that he’s a millionaire)—Patterson’s books are sheer entertainment. His fans gobble up his books by the hundreds of thousands.
What I’ve learned so far
1) Love, love, love, this Patterson quote on self-editing. “Go through your manuscript and delete everything a reader would skim over.”
As a reader I skim over any sections that bore me, especially backstory and family history. Not my thing, and judging by Patterson’s popularity, not many others’ thing, either.
2) Using an extensive, Patterson-style outline, a good story is constructed on a rather bare outline, and then built upon and worked into a thing of sheer entertainment much like a symphony is arranged by a musician. The huge payoff to spending time outlining, is that when you’re ready to write the story, it will practically write itself. For me that means no downtime from writing when I get stuck in the dreaded nowhere land that is the middle of the novel or spending weeks trying to figure out how to wrap it all up.
Who should not sign up
(Patterson’s style is not for everyone)
1) Anyone striving to be a “literary” novelist, don’t even think about Patterson’s lessons. You know who you are and I refuse any attempt to define literary writing.
2) Authors who love to embellish with extensively-detailed backstory, description, and family history.
I’m resolved to do my sixth novel, #3 of the Detective Kendall Halsrud series, using the Patterson method. I have a good start on my outline and I am already frustrated because I want to start writing. I’ve overcome the urge by extending my outline, and feeling excited about my progress.
Thanks for stopping by, will add more on this topic later.