Chapter 10 of 22 from James Patterson

First Lines


Grab your reader's attention quickly and make them hold on for dear life. James shares his tips for getting your reader hooked from the very first line.

Topics include: Favorite first lines • Keep pulling the reader in • Get your reader invested • Involve the reader quickly • Don’t be afraid to rewrite

Grab your reader's attention quickly and make them hold on for dear life. James shares his tips for getting your reader hooked from the very first line.

Topics include: Favorite first lines • Keep pulling the reader in • Get your reader invested • Involve the reader quickly • Don’t be afraid to rewrite

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.

I loved the class, it's help me become a better writer over time, and I hope soon my book is Published. Thank you so much. James Patterson. -Brandon.

Great stuff. I am enjoying the discipline and the directions I would otherwise not have taken.

Thank you. I am thoroughly enjoying your class.

This class has given me the confidence to follow my gut with my writing.


Lorraine A.

This is the first two lines of my book "Return of the Serpent Bearer". An invisible voice called out, "All aboard," announcing the departure of Amtrak's Southwest Chief. Clare Creighton looked at her watch. She had six minutes to board her train, unaware she was about to have a brief encounter with a stranger that would change her life forever. Question: Did I reveal too soon that she was about to have an encounter that would change her life? Thank you.

Catherine M.

I wrote this just for fun after listening to this lesson. Comments welcome! I'm just a beginner when it comes to writing fiction or suspense but I'm really excited to get going. *** It was hot; sweat dripped down the middle of her back and off the tips of her elbows where she sat at the formica table. Under her hair was a damp, gluey mess. Thick hair should have been a gift but in this weather it was a heavy, unwieldy burden that made her head ache. She wished she could shave her head but her father would have none of that. A fan creaked in the corner of the broken room they called a living room. So funny—it was a pretentious name for a crackerbox heat box with imitation wood paneling and stained, sagging ceiling tiles. The drooping blankets that covered the windows, the dirt in every corner and a carpet that had seen better days many, many years ago. All served to remind her she was trash. White trash. And now he was dead.

Patt S.

Here are the first few lines of my opening chapter. I'd love some honest feedback: There was nothing Galen could do to save her. He tried everything he could think of: prayer, bringing her bowls of soup, telling her over and over how much he loved her - how much everyone loved her, but his mother still died. He was ten years old at the time, so of course he didn't understand that someone dying form cancer needs more than wishful thinking from you. They need an actual medical cure. Galen made it his mission to find one; which he did one sunny day in August, thirty-two years too late for the mother he cherished.

Tyra M.

Hello, I'd love some honest feedback. I'm not sure if this is working. Here is the first three lines of my WIP, The Family Man: "You. Can. Do. This." The face looking back from the mirror didn't want to be here. Spreading his hands on the bathroom counter, being careful not to touch the gun, Andrew leaned forward. He tried to ignore the sweat that appeared on his face and his pounding heart. "It's eight hundred dollars."


It was like I was at a movie no one wanted to watch, except that love-struck couple in the last row, that didn‘t really go to the cinema to watch anything but each other. Only that I wasn’t sitting in an almost-empty movie theater. No, I was one of two people on a passenger ferry travelling to what felt like the middle of nowhere. The other passenger was a crew member who had finished his shift, and the chances that we would be making out soon seemed pretty slim.

Auktavius T.

First Draft Introducing the villain in my current WIP. The tortured screams from within the brazen bull put a broad smile of Cassius’ face. The former Iudicat Minor sat on a flawless black couch, the down cushions stitched with kangaroo twine. He was dressed only in a pair of white, silk boxers that complimented his physical form. “Oh please, God! Cassius! AHHHHHHH….please stop! Pleeeaase! AHHHHH.” The large, hollow, bronze device stood over a fire pit out on the patio of his immaculate estate. Flames danced skyward and licked the bull’s glowing, red underbelly. Cassius closed his eyes, leaned his head back, and allows the screams to permeate every fiber of his being. A small ping sounded to his right. He scowled and ignored the interruption. The ping sounded again. Cassius breathed deeply, trying to quell his fury, reached over and pushed a button embedded in the surface of the marble nightstand. The patio door slid shut and the screams died away instantly. “Yes?” Cassius said sharply. “We found him,” the voice replied. Cassius disconnected the call and then pressed an intercom button. A woman’s voice broke the silence , "Good morning, Iudicat Malamus.” “Get my ship ready,” he commanded with a cool, even tone. He opened the patio doors again and smiled more broadly than ever as the screams flooded the interior of his estate once more.


1. She was his Irene. His Kryptonite. Whenever she was around he could feel the beast inside him stir. 2. He waited for her sitting on the corner of the bed. In the dark room the shadows played, chasing and stalking one another as if mirroring the thoughts that haunted him all week. 3. Sit down and let me tell you a story. It's not a nice story, not all stories are nice but all stories deserve to be told. 4. "Is it ready?" She texted as soon as she woke up and made sure she was alone. The almost immediate reply message made her phone buzz and the answer made her curse out loud "No. We may have a problem..." 5. I was just about to enjoy a vanilla pudding when he knocked and walked into my office without waiting for my reply. "Do enter" I said sarcastically as I put down the spoon. ------------------------------- My story starts with a few small lines rather than one so I'm not sure it was right for the actual task: Who am I? Good question but irrelevant. I am a work in progress so even if I could answer it the reply will change in time. Who was I? That's a question I can easily answer. I was nobody.

Nabil M.

In my mid 30s, I thought I might be able to change the world if I have a higher ranked position: in my mid 40s, I know that i was wrong.

Nabil M.

The first time i was invited by my friend Salah (the CEO) to visited ABU company from two years ago, the employees seem to be happy, cooperative, and respect each others. This is my fifth visit as a detective investigating homicide killing; definitely something went wrong in this short time.

Mariam O.

In the unfair game of life we're all seekers. Some seek answers, some seek justice... and others seek revenge.


I don't want to over stress the importance of first lines. It's just that they can really give you an advantage. You're reaching out from that book, grabbing a hold of that reader, and sucking them right into your book-- or not. And if you pull them right in, you've got them. You've got that agent. You've got that editor. You've got your reader. Suck them right in, and insofar as if they're staying right there and you haven't pulled them at all, you probably lost them. If you get them this far, that's probably good too. OK, there now, I'm leaning. I'm leaning with you. You know, so far, so good. So far, so good works. That's OK. If the reader is going, OK, yeah, what happens next? I'm cool with it. And sometimes it is just like, boom, I am in hook, line, and sinker. And that's the best. Especially trying to sell that first novel. Here we are again. The dreaded first page-- what to do about it. A really terrific sportswriter name Red Smith, and he said writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. So that's kind of what that first page is about. Obviously one of the keys is just the first line. Along Came A Spider-- first Alex Cross book-- starts, "Early on the morning of December 21, 1992, I was the picture of contentment on the sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C." That was my first line. Yeah, it gives you a lot of information. Not a great first line, but, you know, I'm-- so far, I'm OK. I'm getting into it. You've Been Warned, which was a horror book, the first line there in the prologue, "It's way too early in the morning for dead people." Once again, give me an idea of what kind of book it is. Private series about a private investigation company and a relatively young guy that runs it. And the first line is, "To the best of my understandably shaky recollection, the first time I died, it went something like this." That's a pretty cool first line actually if I do give myself some credit. In Kiss The Girls, the first line is, "For three weeks, the young killer actually lived inside the walls of an extraordinary 15 room beach house." For me, I'm there. The idea of somebody living in my house-- a killer inside the walls-- and what you'll find out in the next couple of chapters is the people are in the house while he's living inside the walls. That's very dramatic. It's very scary. It would scare the pants out of most readers. And if it happened in real life, it'd really scared the hell out of you. I always feel that if I haven't given them something in the first chapter, it's bad news. I have to have grabbed them a bit. Maximum Ride-- once again, in terms of what you can do in a scene. We open up with children, and they range from seven years old to 14 or 15. They're running like banshees, they're esca...