James Patterson has written upwards of 150 books. Of those books, 16 have been adapted for the screen, with famous actors like Morgan Freeman and Christina Applegate playing his most popular characters.
Any writer would love to claim they’ve written and successfully published one book, let alone 150. To have that kind of success is unprecedented and something that many writers aspire to, which is why Patterson was asked to host an online Masterclass.
What can writers learn from Patterson? Today’s post will explore the man behind the books as well as some of his most helpful writing tips.
James Patterson – A Brief Biography of the Man Behind the Books
Patterson, born in 1947, is a philanthropist as well as an award-winning author. He started out in advertising, from which he retired in the late 1990s to pursue writing.
He’s openly admitted to co-writing many of his books, something that has earned him both praise and scorn. Other writers claim he’s more of an idea-man than an actual writer, which was disproven by the fact that he wrote the majority of The President Is Missing, a collaboration with Bill Clinton, in addition to numerous other books entirely on his own.
Even those he co-writes can be considered his since he provides detailed outlines numbering into the hundreds of pages.
In 2005, he founded the James Patterson PageTurner Awards, which awards $100,000 to anyone (individuals, schools, companies, etc.) that finds new and innovative ways of getting people excited about reading.
In 2013, Patterson took out ads in multiple newspapers entitled “Who Will Save Our Books? Our Bookstores? Our Libraries?” His goal was to “stir the pot” and raise awareness of what could happen if people lost these things (in a nutshell: important literature, ideas, and people would be lost forever).
The Most Popular, Must-Read James Patterson Books
With so many books in his roster, it’s difficult to narrow the list of which ones to read. Here are some of Patterson’s most popular books. They’ll give you a taste of what you can expect from this diverse writer.
Along Came a Spider
Along Came a Spider is probably one of the most popular Patterson books, as well as his most well-known movies. The book’s protagonist is Alex Cross, a Washington, D.C. cop. Cross made his first appearance in the book Kiss the Girls.
Cross loses his partner on the job and retires out of guilt. His retirement doesn’t last long, though, as the daughter of a Washington politician is kidnapped by a criminal who is only willing to negotiate with Cross.
A James Patterson sci-fi/fantasy? Yep! Maximum Ride (which is actually a series) is about a group of human-avian hybrids that have escaped the lab in which they were bred. They flee to the mountains, but the youngest one in their group is kidnapped, leading them on a dangerous adventure.
1st to Die
Anyone who is looking for a book that pulls at their heartstrings while keeping them on the edge of their seat should read 1st to Die.
The story follows a homicide inspector who is chasing a serial killer, falling for her partner, and dealing with a life-threatening illness.
Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas is a romance-thriller. Dr. Suzanne Bedford starts a romance with a handsome, mysterious man. He’s not an open book, so Suzanne finds out more about him by reading a diary she’s found written by the man’s first wife who wrote it for their son.
The Patterson Masterclass – Writing Tips from a Prolific Author
What would it be like to learn how to write from a talented, successful writer? Thanks to Masterclasses, aspiring writers don’t have to wait to find out. They can take classes from a variety of writers, including the latest one from James Patterson.
In his class, Patterson offers the following tips.
Don’t Worry About New Ideas – They Don’t Exist
It’s easy for writers to get caught up in the idea that they must come up with something completely new. The problem with this is that nearly everything has already been covered.
Instead of getting discouraged, this revelation should cause aspiring writers to breathe a sigh of relief. After all, this means they don’t have to worry about recreating the wheel – they just need to figure out how to make it better.
Even an idea that is as old as time can feel completely fresh when a writer makes it unique through voice, narrative, and well-explained/new details.
Outline, Outline, Outline
A lot of writers like to write only when inspiration strikes them. The result can be a two-fold disaster.
First, they might not write anything for days, months, or years. What kind of progress is that?
Second, what they do write can be a mishmash of scenes and chapters that make no sense whatsoever.
Inspiration is important, but so is some organization. Patterson recommends outlining an idea thoroughly at the outset. After that, the muse is free to inspire at will.
Write the First Draft Fast
Another mistake a writer can make is editing while they write. Doing this can take the joy out of writing, as well as stagnate the process.
Patterson recommends plowing through the first draft like there’s no tomorrow. Editing and revising come later. For now, just write. Getting a novel finished is the most important thing. Making it pretty comes last.
Practice Leads to Speed and Excellence – Put Patterson’s Tips into Practice for Success
Every November, thousands of writers partake in something called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a complete novel, or at least a good chunk of one, within 30 days. The word count goal: 50,000 words.
Then, in July, they take part in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is like the November event, though writers can set their own criteria/word count goals during this month.
James Patterson encourages writers to take part in this event, so much so that he’s provided writing tips and encouragement to NaNoWriMo participants in the form of a blog entitled “Pep Talk from James Patterson.”
Anyone who wants to write a novel, whether they participate in such an event or not, can find success by heeding Patterson’s tips: Outline, use your friends for help, get into a routine, and just get started!
Would you like to read some of the most popular contemporary books of all time? Then, you have to check out some of James Patterson’s bibliography. We have more than a few of his top-sellers available on audiobook.