Chapter 12 of 22 from James Patterson

Building A Chapter


James is well known for his numerous short and snappy chapters. Learn how he propels the reader through the book with an outline as his roadmap.

Topics include: Choose a view point • Example of a great chapter • Be in the scene • Find a voice • Give the reader questions

James is well known for his numerous short and snappy chapters. Learn how he propels the reader through the book with an outline as his roadmap.

Topics include: Choose a view point • Example of a great chapter • Be in the scene • Find a voice • Give the reader questions

James Patterson

James Patterson Teaches Writing

James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.

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Set out to write a best-selling book

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade for the very first time. In this course, he guides you through every part of the book writing process.

22 lessons totaling 3+ hours of video from James covering everything from starting your outline to getting published.

Each video lesson is paired with notes, reading materials, and assignments to make sure you get the most out of your class.

Submit your rough drafts and assignments for feedback from other students taking the class (and possibly James himself!).


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Incredible, the best writer ever. James was the first writer that I could relate to as far as pace, structure and characters.

Mr. Patterson offers practical honesty about what his course is designed to accomplish. Thank you for providing focus.

James Patterson cut my chains one by one... I am like the whale in the story... I'm free now But I want to stick around my rescuers :)

I am very excited about this class, not only for the content, which I am enjoying, but because Mr. Patterson is a compelling speaker.


ernest C.

i like the first person idea, feeling the experience that imagination (YOUR) creates on the pages is destined to bring LIFE into FORM.

Gordon H.

Nice to hear an established author talk about using first and third person in the same work! I tried it for my first draft and both the manuscript assessor and the editor slammed it because it 'didn't make sense to mix them up'. I thought it made great sense and actually improved the story so I will try it again in the next manuscript.

Violet W.

So as far as the narrator's point of view and using whichever one works how do we know if "it works"?

Patt S.

I noticed that I made a ton of typos in my entry yesterday. Editing is not my strong suit. Here is the cleaned up version. Is it weird that my dentist is straddling me as I lie reclined in one of his chairs? He says it's because he's having" a bitch of a time" (his words) getting my wisdom teeth out. I've never had so much as a cavity, let alone a tooth pulled; for all I know this is how these procedures really do work. Do you know what is definitely weird? I can feel him digging around next to my upper left molar. It reminds of when a juice ring sits at the bottom of a glass for too long and you have to go over it again and again with a kitchen scrubber in order for it to come clean. It doesn't hurt, what he's doing, so I guess that the needle of stuff they jammed into my gums is doing its job. I just figured I'd be totally oblivious to everything happening. I'm certainly not oblivious to the blood that's spewing out of my mouth and onto the protective bib my dentist has tied around my chin. I'll be really mad if that blood soaks through and onto my shirt. It's one of my favourites. It's new enough to make the cool kids at school think I'm worth talking to, but not so new that the unpopular group can accuse me of selling out. "Wow, that baby will not give up the ghost," he says. "You doing okay?" I tell him yes, although it comes out sounding more like ya on account of me not being able to open and close my mouth properly. I'm not doing okay, of course. There is a one hundred and eighty pound man with sharp instruments in his hands straddling me. I pretend everything is hunky dory, though because my mom has promised me chocolate ice cream afterwards if I don't lose my shit. It's funny - my mom telling me not to lose my shit. This is a woman who once lost hers because she couldn't find the extension cord we normally keep in our basement and figured someone had broken into the house and stolen the stupid thing. Not her jewelry, not any of the loose cash we have lying around, not our electronics - the extension cord. That warranted her acting all nutty, but an eighteen year old having four teeth pulled in one sitting? Suck it up girl. Just don't suck up the blood that's now pooling at the back of your throat. That's like licking a hub cap, taste-wise. Suck up those icky feelings you're experiencing. Be brave. Be above freaking out over the silly things in life - like wisdom teeth that refuse to let go. I had better get three scoops of ice cream after this.

A fellow student

Most people don't realize, that authors have to see through all the character's eyes. Choosing who is the most important within the story, is what you have to find out. I like to write in the first and limited third person too. I find it gives my stories depth.

Geoffrey J.

I loved this. Especially the discussion of bringing characters together in the Woman's Murder Club. Patterson made it sound such a natural development of ideas that moved so quickly. Also, his rejection of the idea that there are fixed rules that say you can't use first person and limited third in the same novel. I am really enjoying this class

Francesca A.

Thank you for this lesson on building a chapter! :) I have read many different styles of fiction by authors and there is no one true rule on chapter writing. Some authors (best selling) write short chapters and the book moves along swiftly, while other writers seem to go on and on and (as a reader) I see several points where the chapter could have ended. To me, it all depends on the reader. With limited time to read now in my life, I prefer shorter chapters. I do enjoy reading James Patterson books as he has quite the talent for good chapter lengths - and keeps me wanting more in the story!

Deborah C.

I like that we are talking about personage. But I LOVE talking about finding your own voice and stating it's your piece of work. There is no 11th commandment.


So far I've either written in third person limited (and then usually from the view of different characters, changing the characters in different scene) or from the first person (and then the whole book from the view of one single person). But I've read books where a change of the person works very well. I think it is something you have to experiment with. Both have a very different feeling to them...

A fellow student

I've mostly been writing either solely in limited 3rd person or limited 1st person. I have yet to try using both, but between your advice and having read Alice Borchardt's Guinevere novels some years ago (which sad to say will not be finished as Borchardt passed away and no word on what happened to her final book's manuscript far as I'm aware of), perhaps I'll give that a try sometime.


Mike Connelly, he said what Jim does is every single chapter moves the characterization and the action forward-- every chapter-- and turns on the movie projector in our heads. And that's, I think, exactly what you want to do. And that movie projector in our heads means that I could see the scene. I could hear the scene. I could smell the scene. I could taste the scene. I was getting enough information that sets me in that scene so I could be there with the character. And that's really, really useful. Some writers don't write that way, but if you want to write commercial fiction, that's important. I tend, most of the time, to write in the first person and third person limited. Now, some people will go, well that's cheating. Well, I don't give a shit what-- it's my creation. I can do whatever I want to do. There are no rules. The 11th commandment didn't come down and say you cannot use the first person and the third person in the same story. Yes you can. You can do whatever you want to do if it works. I love to write in the first person because for some reason, it helps me to get in touch with the scene and what the character's thinking. I just find it easier to get in touch, to be there, to be in the scene with Alex Cross or Michael Bennett or Lindsay Boxer or Maximum Ride or any of the characters I've done. The limitation of the first person is obvious because then, if it's all first person, that's the only character you can follow. Because I like to follow the villains frequently and I like to evolve some of the secondary characters, I like to write in the same book in both the first person and limited third person, and you get the best of both worlds. So you can get really in on the first person, but yet you can switch off and write from another character's point of view. One of the things you have to deal with with every chapter is whose point of view makes this the most interesting. If it's a crime, is it more interesting from the victim's point of view, the killer's point of view, or the detective's point of view when they come on the scene and see whatever the results of the crime is. What's the best point of view to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish there? So that's where you have to think about, OK, what's going to make this come alive the best? And sometimes, and this happens frequently, I might have in the outline a certain point of view, but when I get to the chapter, I go, you know what, this is going to be better written from another point of view, because the other point of view, suddenly it just becomes richer and more mysterious, or whatever you wanted that chapter to be, scarier. I mean, you always should have a feeling for emotionally, what did you want to have happen in that chapter. Did you want the reader to feel something? You want him to feel scared? You want him to feel pity for somebody? You...