Chapter 4 of 22 from James Patterson



With the right plot, your reader won't be able to stop turning the pages. In this lesson, James measures out his unique approach to developing plot lines that keep readers wanting more.

Topics include: Condense your plot • Raise the stakes • Create conflict • Create worthy opponents • Build in surprises • Less is more

With the right plot, your reader won't be able to stop turning the pages. In this lesson, James measures out his unique approach to developing plot lines that keep readers wanting more.

Topics include: Condense your plot • Raise the stakes • Create conflict • Create worthy opponents • Build in surprises • Less is more

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 found it very enjoyable. His humor as well as his experience not only made me laugh but helped me to learn new things, and improve what i know

There was so much to learn, and he teaches with humor.

This class is helping my by adding a little mystery to my horror, I liked how open he is and how layed back he is.

This class has answered many of the questions I had about how certain techniques are done when writing a book. Perhaps more importantly it has made me realize that all my excuses for not writing were just fear of failure. Mr. Patterson made the writing process less mysterious and has given me the courage to begin doing what I love. Thank you so much! John Olson- CEO Graystone Industries


Kent B.

Good lesson. I am about half way through a manuscript about a Jack the Ripper wannabe... and a crude, odd detective chasing him. I would like to ask the readers a question, "Would you as a reader, prefer the antagonist gets away in the end, or gets caught?" The murderer is not a nice guy and cuts up his victims, and the detective has a high rate of closing cases. I am on the fence here and hoping your feedback will drive my ending...Thanks.

O.C. C.

Simple information but hard to do. Mr. Patterson is a true teacher and an icon.

Scott J.

Good stuff! "Character is revealed through action." "If there isn't any conflict there is no drama." "Don't write a single chapter that doesn't propel your story forward."


Mr Patterson points out very useful gems in in plot of the story one is telling and grabs the viewer or reader.

Victoria O.

Hi fellow writing enthusiasts! I thought I'd share one of my raw ideas for a plot since others are doing so. Let me know what you think! Loving the wisdom pearls from Patterson so far. 1) A woman with a rare disorder called Capgras Synrome due to a traumatic brain injury, is discharged from the mental health facility nearby her home town. She returns home living with her mother and uses her newly learned coping mechanisms to dismiss the idea that her mother is not her own. (*Those with Capgras syndrome hold the delusional belief that someone in their life, usually a spouse, close friend or family member, has been replaced by an impostor.)

Glenna A.

Different authors have different focus points and bring value to the process. The encouragement of each has been inspiring. When I click on DOWNLOAD PDF The following appears <Error> <Code>AccessDenied</Code> <Message>Request has expired</Message> <X-Amz-Expires>3600</X-Amz-Expires> <Expires>2019-03-05T21:12:50Z</Expires> <ServerTime>2019-03-05T21:18:26Z</ServerTime> <RequestId>3A397F2B7C0A51A0</RequestId> <HostId> BNNxf3JjEfwIsCmVETv4EeN5TBy/McReE1XqlcWxrWHQHGkKpjRPN8KDhToXPl5BtxMKwxMjgjY= </HostId> </Error

A fellow student

Very much. I feel encouraged to finally sink my teeth into this class, which I started a while ago; but I wasn't ready then. I AM ready now.

Emilio E.

Taking a shot at a plot: A detective stumbles upon a triple homicide which connects her with information regarding her eight-year-old son who went missing nineteen years ago. A Pulitzer awarded journalist who's produced nothing noteworthy since her great success is drawn into a peculiar meeting with an anonymous caller who has a story that is not only terrifying but ties all three strangers together into conflict. Is this sufficient information for a plot or is more needed to gauge interest? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Bob C.

I like his no-nonsense approach. He doesn't give you a lot of unnecessary fluff.

Andrea C.

The lesson about research was so helpful. James gave so many good tips on interviews and experiencing cities or locations first hand. For example, "Getting the essay answer vs. the one-word answer!"


Story is about-- it's about the thrills and the twists and the turns, but more than anything else it's about revealing character. In a thriller it's how will that character react in a very dramatic situation. I really believe that character is revealed through action. Try to write every chapter as if it was the first chapter in the book. We pay a lot of attention to these first chapter because we know they're important. Try to write every chapter as if it's that important. Write a story, not necessarily a lot of pretty sentences, write a story. Don't set out to write a good thriller, set out to write a number one thriller with a number one story idea. Don't write a single chapter that doesn't propel the story forward. Leave out all the parts that readers are going to skim. They're going to skim stuff. If you find it's that kind of writing, leave it out. Try to write for a single reader who's sitting across the desk from you and you don't want them to get up until you're finished. And if you're smart, make that reader a woman. Why? Women by 70% of the books. Women by 70% of my books, which is interesting. A lot of people don't-- they think that I have a lot of male readers. And I have a number of male readers, but more women. Now let me just give you just a couple of thoughts about condensing plot into something that's manageable very quickly. So if you take the Great Gatsby, you start with Gatsby has everything anybody could ever dream of except love. Gatsby gets love. Gatsby loses love and thus loses everything. And that's kind of Gatsby. And we have Ian Forster's famous line about story and plot. And he wrote, "a plot is a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality." The King died and then the queen died is a story. But the King died and then the queen died of grief is a plot. The time sequence is preserved but the sense of causality overshadows it. Let's talk a little bit about personal stakes in a novel, in a screenplay. You'll certainly hear that when you-- if you've sold something to a studio or you're doing television work or with your editor when you're doing your book, that the stakes need to be raised. And that essentially means that what's at risk here, or what's to be gained is so important to the character, or should be, that you feel-- that the reader feels it big time. So if there's no stakes-- and that's one of the things, I'll talk about having worthy adversaries. If you know as a reader-- and you kind of know-- that the good guy is probably going to win the day. It can't be that simple. You have to feel that there are stakes here. So worst case in the Cross books, in Hope to Die or Cross My Heart, one book and then Hope to Die second book, the stakes couldn't be higher because Alex Cross' family has disappeared and he believes they're dead. But he's not 100% sure they're dead...