Writing, Arts & Entertainment


James Patterson

Lesson time 09:30 min

What happens when Hollywood takes an interest in your story? Sit back and listen as James shares the best and worst moments from his time on the set.

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Topics include: How it starts • How it works • Kiss The Girls • Alex Cross • The Simpsons • Have a sense of humor


Before I answer this I got to take a shot. Hollywood. So what do you do? You're home, you're poor, knock, knock, knock, it's Hollywood or jingle jangle jingle. And I got to tell you, if they want your book, you can't believe how nice they're going to be. You have written the best book we've ever-- this is so good. We're going to make the best move. We're going to start shooting next week. Blah, blah, blah, blah. It's all lies. For years I don't know where this-- I thought it was my line, but the line I'd use for my Hollywood novel-- the first line is hello, I lied. And a lot of people add their lie for no reason. I don't get it. I mean, it's just-- you don't have to-- just say we kind of like your book, and we'll do our best we can with it, and 80% of books we buy don't get made, but we really like it, and we're going to really do our-- And that would be great. You'd be going holy shit. They want my book. It's kind of take the money and run, or take the money and pray. That's probably the better thing. Take the money, and run, and pray. That's the best advice I can give you. Having warned you against all of this over and over again, how do you make it happen? A lot of it is luck. I mean, it kind of comes at you. You have a literary agent. The literary agent may also be the Hollywood agent depending on who you're with. If you're with William Morris they'll do the books and movies, presumably. Creative artists might do both. ICM might do both. My agent is a lawyer in Washington, and it's kind of weird. I mean, I don't pay 15%, or 10%, or whatever. I just pay him by the hour. He does Clinton's, he does Mary Higgins Clark, he's done some of the Reagan stuff, he does Bob Woodward, so that's kind of how I operate. He doesn't really operate in Hollywood. He has the same feeling about Hollywood that I do. He just doesn't want to spend too much time dealing with them. But generally, your literary agent will either have a Hollywood connection or if it's a big enough group. And if they think it's a property they'll go out and try to sell it. You're not going to have any power. That I can almost guarantee unless they want it so much and about three, or four, or five people are bidding for it. And they try not to get into these bidding things now. That's the latest. It's rare that you'll have more than one place bidding for something. It used to be the norm. That's the way the agents operate. They don't operate that way too much anymore. OK, so let's say that you get lucky and they're actually going to shoot this movie. It's a head trip. I mean, it's just great. You're there and you won't believe how many people. I mean, we're doing this thing, and there are a lot of people here. This is kind of bizarre with the puppet strings, and they move my mouth and my eye. ...

About the Instructor

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade. In his first online writing class, he guides you from the start to the finish of your book.

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James Patterson

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

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