Raw Ideas

James Patterson

Lesson time 13:14 min

How do you recognize a great idea? How do you figure out if it's worthy of your effort? James spells out the techniques he uses to generate his ideas and then separate the good ones from the less compelling ones.

James Patterson
Teaches Writing
James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.
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People will always ask the stupid question, where do I come up with my stories. No, I'm kidding. People frequently ask where do I come up with the stories, and it really can be anything as I had this big folder of ideas. That's a piece of it. So how do these ideas get into the folder? I'll see something on the street, or I could probably write a story about anything. I could write a story about the classroom here probably. Figure out a way to make it an interesting mystery. Sometimes a title will come to me. Sometimes just some little-- some little scene I'll see in the street. Just some little thing catches my eye and I go, oh, I see. That stimulates something in me. The idea to the Women's Murder Club-- women frequently are more collaborative than men are. And I notice this in business. A man will come in and go, I got it. They have the idea that-- whatever. Whereas, a lot of times women will come in and they want to hear the other people's ideas in a room and contribute and get to something-- so that collaboration. And I found that interesting. And in the world of detective fiction, it didn't seem to me that there was much of that. So the idea of a police inspector, a medical examiner, an assistant district attorney-- now they would normally be together. They would know each other, presumably, and could have become friends. And then, little tricky with putting a journalist in there because they would have issues maybe with sharing some information with the journalist. But they come to trust the journalists, Cindy. And they get together and they just chat about cases. And is it realistic? No, not really. I don't write realism. But it's a cool idea-- that you get four women together and they would collaborate on solving mysteries. And maybe it's been done somewhere, but I'm not aware of it. So I just want that-- I think that's a cool idea. One of my favorite, if not my favorite of the novels that I have written is one called Honeymoon. And you start out with the book and you always hope it's going to be spectacular. And you just never know. You start writing and some of them turn out better than others for whatever the reason is. That one started with the idea of, I love the idea of a woman who was a bigamist. So that's where it started-- a woman who would, you know-- and it went a lot of different places from there. But the way the book opens is you have this couple and they're married. And they're in bed together. And it's just a delightful Sunday afternoon and they make love. And you really like them. You like the way they interact. You like the dialogue. You go, I'd love to be there. I'd love to-- that's the way I want my life to be. And then she has to go off. It's Sunday. She's got to go off on a business trip. And she goes to Boston. And s...

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. In his first online writing class, he guides you from the start to the finish of your book.


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

I love his no nonsense old school putting pen to paper approach.

Wonderful class. Inspiring, insightful, and entertaining. Loved it. Thank you. I look forward to giving you that nudge one day before swimming out to sea.

James' warmth, truth and humour shines through, and there's some great advice in there. I really feel that some of the mystery has been dispelled. You just gotta do it. You just gotta believe in yourself. Thanks James,

This course is structured pretty well. The course explains , how to get started, and how to keep the momentum.. I enjoy writing , usually.


Melanie W.

MASTERCLASS - please fix the link in the workbook relating to CRITIQUE - been reported here as 404 for some time.

A fellow student

I'm a writer and when I listen to this, I shake my head because really, what is he telling you? It's fluff

Patti H.

This lesson made me go back and look at my journals where every now and again I did manage to write down story ideas. Now I've got 3 solid ideas that I'm super excited to get started on. So inspired...

A fellow student

The link on CRITIQUE — RAW IDEAS ASSIGNMENT is broken. Anyone know what the real link is?

Tia B.

love this class! Raw Ideas lesson is so helpful, I have a lot of raw ideas! would love to some thoughts on them sometimes

Jeanned'Arc L.

Well there you go. Mr. Patterson has now motivated me to continue writing stories. My goal while taking this class is to complete one of the short story that I've been gnawing at for the past two years. I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I've pulled it up today and I will use this class to write all the through its conclusion. My problem if finishing. I have many ideas sitting on file.... I pull one out and add to it every now and again but I would like to take this one full circle,

A fellow student

I really loved this lesson, just listening to it, inspired me to write more, and I just have such a urge to write after watching this lesson.

Chad E.

Great Lesson. Although, I am not able to Watch James critique the six ideas in his Office Hours video: CRITIQUE — RAW IDEAS ASSIGNMENT. The Link to the office hours video brings me to a 404 error page.

Freddy L R.

Love this lesson! Truly confirms my creative instincts, yet expands my thought process and approach. For me, once an idea hits me, I write a log line for it. From there, I either do an outline or a synopsis. However, for my current work in progress, an idea hit me and I just started writing. Two weeks later, I'm on chapter ten and have a complete outline, log line, and synopsis which I've registered for copyright and with Writers Guild of America west (WGAw). I'm presently writing chapter ten of my new novel, and this is a perfect time to learn from the greatest. Many thanks for sharing your knowledge, Mr. Patterson! Happy writing everyone.... Truly, Freddy L. Robinson

Ben W.

This was a good one. Very practical advice, esp. the idea folder. Writing takes discipline and work and this is the underlying point I think he keeps making. Being really observant and having a 'good gut' is important, but the discipline of being organized and engaged is where it happens.