Conference Reviews,  Plotting Advice,  Publishing Advice

Review: James Patterson’s MasterClass

So, just after Christmas, I decided to buy myself a little gift in the form of James Patterson’s MasterClass.  My facebook feed had been swarmed with advertisements, and articles like this made it seem like the best writing help since… well, since Writing Magic.

I figured, what the heck?  The holidays are over.  Time to pamper myself.


Wow.  What a mistake.

Let me explain how MasterClass works.  It’s an online class, with videos by famous people (James Patterson for writing, Kevin Spacey for acting, etc) talking about their respective trade.  Offering tips.  Giving hints on how to succeed in writing, acting, photography.

In theory, it’s a cool idea.  How lucky are we, the masses, that we have access to words of the experts?

Maybe the other ones are better.  Maybe they actually give real advice, as opposed to James Patterson. Maybe JP just sucks at public speaking… on video, in a studio…


Anyway, I was full of anticipation when I clicked on the first video.  It was an introduction.  Okay, no big deal.  I sat through JP talking about how he got into writing.  Then the second video, titled “Passion + Habit,” detailed how you know if you’re *really* a writer.

(Spoilers: you have to write.  No shit, Sherlock.)

In my opinion, if you’re spending $90 on an online class, of COURSE you’re interested in writing.  Already this was wasting my time.

But I kept going.  Through coming up with plot ideas to actually outlining a book to creating characters and dialogue, James Patterson taught me… nothing.  Nothing that I haven’t already learned from the vast number of writing books in my bookshelf, of which I could have purchased at least 6 more for the cost of this MasterClass.

I guess at one point there was an interactive side of this class, where students could submit their writing samples, and JP himself would review them.  That’s a cool idea, and would probably be worth the $90 (say what you will about James Patterson, but he’s a billionaire, and we’re… not).  But by the time I tried the class, that feature was gone.

Checking today, there is another contest going on now–submit your writing, and you could get to co-author a book with JP!  (Which I have lots of opinions on, none of which I’ll discuss here.)

… Well, that’s one way to get publicity…

So maybe that’s enticing to you, and $90 is a drop in the hat, and in that case, this might be worth your while.

It wasn’t worth mine.  JP obviously sat down in 3 separate sessions–once in his office, once in a studio, and once in a coffee shop–and just talked about writing.  And then the people at MasterClass cut and pasted his words together until they somewhat resembled topics, and thus “classes.”  The disconnected speech, the way his clothes and scenery kept changing, and the actual topics at hand really turned me off of this.

I didn’t finish.  I did, however, get a refund.

The only thing this class did help me achieve was a sample outline.  I was able to write Operation Overload’s outline in roughly the same way, using some of JP’s techniques.  But honestly, folks, his techniques aren’t new.  I’m just a pantser by heart, so ANY plotting ideas were helpful to me.

So, in conclusion, I say save yourself the heartache.  Go buy some of the books in my bookshelf instead.  I promise they’ll help more.

(Start with Jeff Gerke.  His writing reference books are amazeballs.)

Have you tried the James Patterson MasterClass?  What was your experience?  Tell me below!


  • Jacqueline Butler

    Sorry your class sucked, At least they were nice enough to give you a refund. Now you can get yourself a better gift, right? In some ways, it makes total sense to me that JP could be terrible at public speaking. For some great writers, I absolutely think it’s the written word that speaks to them and the spoken word fails them.

  • thebunnyabroad

    Saw your bit about “you could get to co-author a book with JP! (Which I have lots of opinions on, none of which I’ll discuss here.)”

    Agreed. So many opinions, few of them good. James Patterson, why? The only good thing I’ve seen from you since Max Ride 1 was your cameo on Castle…

  • deborahlynn007

    Are you serious? You didn’t finish the class, or take advantage of the additional benefits that the Master Class Platform Offered, but you grabbed the key element of James Patterson’s lessons to use for your own professional resource.

    Then you got a refund.

    Then you go ahead and slam the course and the platform that it was built on, after admitting you didn’t interact with the students, take the time to do the work, follow all the lessons, or even consider that James Patterson’s teaching style was the best part of the course – for most of the dedicated students in this class – who followed through with our workbook, our practice, and our communications throughout the format.

    Even though you did not apply yourself – you still benefitted from the class but – advised your readers “against” taking this incredible Writing Opportunity with the world’s best Thriller/Mystery Author who has won awards and is in the Guinness World Book of Records!

    I can think of only one word for all this – Entitlement – You are the voice of Entitlement.

    • deborahlynn007

      When I say you benefitted from James Patterson’s teaching, I am referring to your downloading the Outline sample he provided that is not available in any other venue – and you used it for your next book – you stated this above! How can you justify asking for a refund and then using the product to develop a project? OMG – I am so outraged that you took this action.

      • novelarnia

        I do apologize that you feel this way. I did not, and never would, upload his outline sample for anyone’s use. His plotting techniques are not exclusive to himself–they’re easily derived from any of the hundreds of writing reference books available for a fraction of the cost.

        I asked for a refund because I purchased the class solely for his videos, in the hopes that they would give me new information. If I wanted a community of online writers, I’d have accessed the National Novel Writing Forums–which are free, by the way, and far more comprehensive than that half-assed workbook.

        As I said, I’m truly sorry you feel, what was it? Outraged? I am not sorry, however, that I got a refund for an overpriced class that didn’t offer any knowledge I haven’t found with $15 books from Barnes and Noble.

    • Angela D'Onofrio

      Think of it this way:
      Say you had a child who had begun to take an interest in an instrument, and bought a book from the music store on scales and techniques. They started to do well and practice regularly, so as a gift, you paid for them to take music lessons, and they barely learned more than they had already known.
      Would you let that person continue to take your money?
      It is common parlance in the field of customer service that if someone is dissatisfied, they may be entitled to a refund. She was dissatisfied. The refund was provided. I hope that is the sort of entitlement you refer to: the correct one, and not one which reduces the author to an immature, whining brat. She is a responsible and mature young woman. Her differing opinion on an established author does not make sufficient grounds to paint her otherwise.

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