Chapter 5 of 22 from James Patterson



For James, conducting in-depth research not only makes his writing better, it also boosts his credibility with his readers. Find out when and how James conducts his research and how he incorporates it into his writing in a thoughtful way.

Topics include: Seek inspiration • Build your credibility • Know your locations • Conduct interviews • Know your vocations • Don’t be a know-it-all • No excuses

For James, conducting in-depth research not only makes his writing better, it also boosts his credibility with his readers. Find out when and how James conducts his research and how he incorporates it into his writing in a thoughtful way.

Topics include: Seek inspiration • Build your credibility • Know your locations • Conduct interviews • Know your vocations • Don’t be a know-it-all • No excuses

James Patterson

James Patterson Teaches Writing

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Set out to write a best-selling book

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James Patterson's masterclass gave great insight on many areas of writing. I was impressed by what he taught and I will implement his ideas. Thank you for sharing James.


A fellow student

The open-ended questions are a productive technique to interview anyone. It is taught in nursing and a great communication tool.

Meghan T.

Parking between the layers of concrete was a cool respite from the sizzling asphalt surrounding it. The garage was crowded with empty shiny SUV's and pick-ups stuffed into the too narrow white lines. The suits were not only willing but anxious to pay triple the monthly fee of the open lot down the street. Every red cent was well spent shortening their steps through the strangling damp heat. The garage would save them that just in drycleaning bills. It rescued them from the otherwise stained circles under the arms and salty creeks flowing down their backs to the delta of their ass. The skirts thought it an even better value, an essential really. A preventative to the sharp sting of their legs being ripped from the leather seats when arriving at the bar for a "bushwacker" later and jumping out to thrust the keys at the valet. 600 yards might as well be 3 miles in thin tapered heels. So there was no doubt it was worth packing their lunch to bring with them each morning in order to pay for it and pretending they were too busy working to leave their desks even if they resented it. It was even worth the anxious, almost panicky feeling that caused them to breathe even more labored each time they entered it alone with their coach purse sheltered under their arm.


This section on research is utmost important for accuracy if the character is or was a real person Also in timeline and location etc.

Victoria O.

Here's mine: Veronica started every day by dropping her car off in the parking garage near her building. It was a mundane appendage of the concrete jungle she lived in. Her heels clacked off the grey cement, with a echo which was bigger than her liking. It would draw attention to her, if the garage wasn't so desolate. Her shoes might as well have been saying "I'm here! Feel free to topple me over and swipe my purse!".

A fellow student

I like the challenge of this assignment, describing a structure as boring as a laundry hamper. Here we go: Luke's courtship in concrete, one might call it, began on a Tuesday, the day he would walk alone from his morning Calculus II class, through the Euclid St. parking garage to the main student union. Escaping the midday, Tucson sun was always a blessing upon entering the structure of simple ramps and columns. Luke would barely give the building a thought save for some passing jealousy over those who could afford to park in round-the-clock shade. But that day, a new garage employee's smile lit up the whole place as she sat behind the window of her office. Luke would later marvel at how infatuation spreads. Her place of employment went from a rat maze to a garden path, a prison to a playground. With her, he saw color in the grey. Lunching on the top floor Saturdays, they would feed sparrows and watch students below file in and out of the union. But that first day, it took Luke running into the ticket machine to break the bashful silence.

Patt S.

Here's my take on the parking lot and location descriptions: Description of a Parking Lot: She was on the third level of the parking lot when she realized how much of a metaphor it was for her life. Success was never going to come easily for her; she was going to have be patient and wait until an opportunity presented itself - most likely not until the tenth level. There would be no one along the way willing to let her cut ahead of them either, because they all wanted the same thing she did. And when she finally did make it to the top, people would be waiting for her to spiral downwards so they could take her spot. Location description 1: The flowers are there to fool you. If the first thing you see when you approach the courthouse are bright and luscious beds of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, the person who planted them reasons, then maybe you'll forget that you are minutes away from potentially being sentenced to death. People always freak out when they're sentenced to death, but that can wait until after you have been led into the heartless five-storey slab of concrete on the other side of the gardens. For now, let's pretend that there's still a chance your life can one day be as beautiful as the flowers before you. Location description 2: If the site I found on the internet is correct, then there are over fifteen billion acres of habitable land here on earth. I own ten of those acres. That's not a lot, you may be saying, but you are wrong. Those ten acres are enough for me to grow my own food. Those ten acres are where I make my living as a local craftsperson. More importantly though, those ten acres are where I hide people on the run from those who want to see them dead.

Caitlyn J.

The lesson was great. Here's my take at a parking garage description. I hate parking garages. Something about being in the middle of a million ton concrete cube, discomforts me. All I can think about are the stories I’ve heard of concrete structures collapsing; a bridge toppling, the floor of a building falling in due to architect miscalculation. I mean, can that two foot by two foot concrete column really hold up the weight of the ceiling and the weight of the cars parked above me? I don’t trust it. Which probably explains why I haven’t put down my e-cigarette since I've been parked on the lowest floor, with absolutely no chance of survival were it to come toppling down, of this God-forsaken monstrosity.

Mitchell B.

Research Assignment Locations Ballroom -- Tables were arranged in chaotic harmony. Glasses spiraled on the clothed surfaces giving the room a hypnotic display. Silver napkins sat on golden chargers like white spots in the morning sun. Flowers hung from the sconces in bursts of lavender and white, reeking of perfumed decay. Manor -- Grass blanketed the unmolested yard. Not a single weed in sight, save for those who took refuge beneath the thorns of roses that circled the estate. Cars lined the long, private driveway shaded by flowering trees. In them sang painted buntings, gossiping and conspiring about which car would become their next victim.

Karen L.

Hi peers! I'm keen to chat to someone who has served in the military, especially if you have served in an engineering regiment. Myself - I'm a design lecturer. I also have OCD and am happy to chat about that.

Sandra Solis

I just do this and want to share. thanks a lot. I hope... Forever wait. From dawn to dusk, In fact, even in dreams, I hope. The waiting anguishes me. There is a terrible habitual familiarity in everything that surrounds me. The ceiling, the walls, the noises are always the same. And I appear as a different, discordant point ... in the middle of everything. Someone dared to put a point in the usual whiteness, and it is visible that I do not belong to it. What surrounds me gives me the sensation of being inert, isolated from what makes me up, there is an indifference that is felt when I see without really looking, and I smile almost out of incest, and all those things that people expect to do frequently. There is a frozen something that ends up by blending everything. I know, whispers Per Se, as he looks through the window. Nothing is real, it may seem like it, but ... it's not real. Being alone is the truth. "the crowd is part of the scenery, the sounds, the substances, the crowded restaurants". I tell him interrupting her ... "I see those who walk and I think I see programmed robots, I see the lights illuminating their faces, so many gestures articulated, I watch their lips, as they move their mouth so continuously ... Everything is so unreal, I feel the false. " "The universe is full of that, saturated, and I feel like I'm out of the glass, and not inside, it gives me a feeling of discomfort, of nausea, you could say that I even suffer." "I hear the incessant chatter, my ears clenched, overwhelmed. I'm excluded from everything, it's exhausting. " What do I have to do with what they say? What do I do here? Per It adds ... smiling between ironic and childish, "What does it matter to me if someone has just been named as a worthy haute couture possessor in his personal dress, or if he is prét a porter ... hahaha. There is a general hysteria ... he tells me, and his smile turns serious. Everyone is ill humored. Aggression develops in the environment. And everything is like in showcase, exhibited, exquisitely presented strutting false satisfaction. I add ... "Everything is so tedious." Exact!!! says Per Se. There is no power ... when one is not a slave, nor an accomplice, nor an ally. It is so beautiful that you perceive that everything is stereotyped, exaggeratedly extravagant, laboriously represented. Do not participate more than that! And I turn suddenly to see her with a stunned gesture ... And I shout to him as alienated ... What the hell am I doing here?!


The more you BS when you're writing a book, the worse it is. And people have a real tendency to do that with thrillers and fantasy. They just start making stuff up and that's really hard to do. So I think the research, one, it just makes the writing better. It builds your confidence because you actually know what you're talking about. Sometimes you'll read stuff in the research and it will give you more ideas things, things you hadn't thought of. And that's another beauty of research. With Maximum Ride and the flying kids, I wasn't sure where that was going. And then I thought of sort of an outlaw lab and then I went and did a little bit a research with biotech people. And they said that things like that in the world of biotech will happen in our lifetime. Not necessarily humans with wings, but they said we could do that. We could do humans with wings. There would be a lot of problems with it. So I said, well, that's kind of cool that you could do it. And that idea of a little bit of the Frankenstein thing, OK, what have we created if we created flying kids? And you begin to see the possibilities for the story. Different writers have different approaches to how they use research. In some cases, they really feel the need to build credibility with their readers and some readers really love that, in particular males. Male readers really like a lot of-- they're very narrow in terms of what they like and they don't like. And they really want realism. Not every male but an awful lot of them. And if they don't get it, they feel that it's just not authentic. So looking at a Picasso in terms of art, no, no, no. I don't get that artsy fartsy stuff. So in particular for male readers, a lot of authentic detail is really useful. I mean, you can't tell them enough about a car, or how a car works, or how this, that, and the other thing works. And if you get it wrong, you lose them. I mean, you literally lose them. You get the information that you have about guns wrong, you lose anybody that knows anything about guns. They just go, well, if this person, if this writer, can't get his facts straight, how can I believe anything in the story? But for my money, whether it's a kidnapping, even a bee sting, research. What happens when it was a bee sting? If you're writing about-- go on the subway. I mean, don't fake it. Don't make it up. You know, look, if we go somewhere and somebody asked us, unless we're horrifying verbal storytellers, we'll remember a few details that really capture it. Just a couple of things. You go, this was cool, and this was cool, and this was cool. My son and wife just came back from Berlin and they kept talking about things like the fact they have these water pipes all over the city built above the ground and they're in colors. And anyways, you're immediately getting very quick pictures ...