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Review James Patterson Master Class

Discussion in 'Café Life' started by Carol Rose, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Carol Rose

    Carol Rose Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    15
    James Patterson Teaches How To Write A Best-Selling Book | MasterClass

    So... I got a bit curious after the discussion thread in here about classes. This one had been popping up in my news feed for a while on Facebook, so I checked out the reviews. Only one "bad" one in a bunch. I knew it would be basic, but returning to basics is never a bad thing.

    One of my writing goals for 2017 was to return to basics in terms of my own craft. Figure out where I slipped into lazy writing habits, break them, and take my time crafting stories. Even if that meant slowing down the releases. The results have been liberating in many ways, and I'm much happier in my writing journey now that I have been during the last few years.

    So anyway... I thought I'd spring for the $90 and take the class. It's a tax write-off, after all. It is basic. Very basic. But there are resources from James himself, detailed lesson plans, practice exercises, and even a very active hub where students share ideas, assignments, encouragement, and support. Not like this place - not even close - but it's there just the same for those who need that kind of system in place.

    Do I feel it was a waste of money for me? Not at all. Is it teaching me anything I didn't already know? No, it's not. But what it is teaching me is that there is a *process* to this, and if you take your time and follow the process, and of course have the talent to begin with, understand mechanics already, and come up with an idea that appeals to the masses, you already have the tools necessary to write a great book that will catch the right agent's/publisher's attention.

    Notice I mentioned mechanics. This class does not teach those. It assumes you already have spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure down pat. And that got me thinking along the lines of this thing we call CRAFT.

    I believe it has two parts. (Stick with me here...) One part is the stuff we learn in school. Spelling, grammar, where to put the commas, how to structure a sentence so it makes sense and isn't a big mess or a run-on, with no real direction, or one in which we try to shove too much into it because we don't understand pacing, or because we're trying too hard to get a point across and haven't yet learned how to slow down and build on an idea...

    (see what I did there?? LOL!! :D )

    The second part comes either with developing the gift you have inside, or spending a very long time learning story structure, pacing, character development, etc., etc., etc. I still maintain (I've said this before in here) that writers can't be *taught* this second part. They are born with it. But like musicians who are born with their gift, or painters who are born with theirs, they need practice to *develop* that gift. Writers write. You've heard it before because it's true. Musicians spend hours practicing and taking lessons. Painters paint. They study the technique of other painters.

    Why, then, do we as writers resist doing the same for our craft? You don't learn to write by reading a book, or taking a class. You learn theory and technique by doing that. You learn the basics. But you develop your gift and the basics of your craft that you learned by WRITING. By practicing. And, with feedback from trusted sources.

    We're fortunate in that we have trusted sources right here on this forum!

    So, if you're looking for a class where you can be guided through the basics of this craft of writing, step-by-step, with no promises of glory or guarantees of writing the next best seller, you might want to check this one out. I'm happy with it so far.

    And what's really nice is you have lifetime access, so you can go through the lessons at your own pace. There is no deadline for each one. You don't even have to view them in order, although I'd recommend that because they do build on one another.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
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  2. Paul Whybrow

    Paul Whybrow Venerated Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    10
    Thanks for posting this...he can't get enough money, can he? The cynic in me, says that the way to write a best-selling book is to sketch out the bare bones of a plot, then get an eager pen-for-hire writer to actually write the book! It's what Patterson has been doing for years. One could argue that this is accepted practice in various creative disciplines, including the art world...think Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol...but it rankles with me when it happens with books.

    Another thing, from visiting the site there's a photo of James Patterson smiling! He normally looks as miserable as sin, to use a crude British expression, 'like a bulldog that's just licked piss off a stinging nettle leaf'!
     
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  3. Carol Rose

    Carol Rose Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    15
    I think anyone could teach it, to be honest. The content isn't unique to Patterson. It's that basic. Aaron Sorkin has a screenwriting class that's part of the Master Class series, and I'm betting that content is fairly basic, too. It's the name/brand that give these classes credibility.

    But Patterson's writing choices and facial expressions aside, I am enjoying the class, and am glad I spent the money. ;)
     
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  4. AgentPete

    AgentPete Capo Famiglia Staff Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    7
    Really good coverage, Carol, thank you :)

    Came across the "Masterclass" site in relation to sound mixing - they're obviously trying to get the top bod in key areas, and shoot "how-to" videos for a premium price. Wonder about the strategy - failure to specialize in any given (vertical) market means they have a heck of a lot of promotion to do. We'll see.
     
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  5. Carol Rose

    Carol Rose Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    15
    They even have one on cooking with Gordon Ramsay! I hope he doesn't throw things at the camera... LOL!! :D
     
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  6. Paul Whybrow

    Paul Whybrow Venerated Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    10
    Good for you. Being commercial is a skill that eludes many of us. We may produce ravishing prose, but if no one wants to read it what's the point?

    One thing that troubles me about these courses, which you allude to, is that with so many around there's a likelihood that stories will all start to sound the same. Authors will have a programmed way of expressing themselves, pacing the plot and setting up the denouement, and won't have their own real voice. It's a bit like going to McDonalds' Hamburger University to learn how to make processed fast food that satisfies a craving, and which conforms to the company's way of doing things.

    It isn't truly nutritious and allows no artistic expression by the maker.

    With the way that computers can write novels these days, I envisage a time coming when attractive actors and models will be hired to impersonate the author, to establish the books as a brand.
     
  7. Carol Rose

    Carol Rose Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    15
    I disagree, @Paul Whybrow because they're not teaching the actual words to use. They're teaching basics. Outlines, research, making writing an everyday habit, character sheets, practice writing exercises to bolster creativity, how to work through writer's block, dialogue, creating suspense, how to end the book, etc. The words used to write a story are still your own, the same as if you'd read all this on blog posts or in books. These concepts are merely building blocks. They provide a structure, nothing more. And again, this structure is nothing we haven't seen before in other places. It's all out there already.

    If anything, I think a writer is far less likely to come out of this sounding like a copy of another author, than he/she would if taking a class where the instructor has the students rewrite everything in line with the instructor's taste and style. That isn't what's happening in this class. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
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  8. Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

    Katie-Ellen Hazeldine Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    24
    I can't help rather liking Gordon Ramsay and his friendly/aggressive rhinoceros face. I suspect he might be a reincarnated rhino who got poached in his last life.
     
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  9. AgentPete

    AgentPete Capo Famiglia Staff Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    7
    The breakdown is roughly like this, I suspect.

    Cost to punter: $90

    Slice to A-lister: $60

    Writing, production and post-prod: $20

    This means that the punter is paying $90 for approx $10 of content :)
     
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  10. Marc Joan

    Marc Joan Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    2
    Poached, and then presented on a bed of mashed turnip with a garnish of quinoa jus.
     
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  11. Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

    Katie-Ellen Hazeldine Venerated Member Founding Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    24
    I'll take mashed swede over turnip, any time. Delish with plenty black pepper.
     
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  12. Robinne Weiss

    Robinne Weiss Venerated Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    5
    Thanks for posting this review, Carol!
     
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  13. David Newrick

    David Newrick Well-Known Member

    Reviewer Credits:
    6
    I came across the new term (which I assume we are all to aspire to in the bave new world of writing in the 21st century) authorpreneur. Surely James Patterson exemplifies that new term more than anyone else.
     
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