James Patterson MasterClass Review

by Rebecca Salter

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The James Patterson MasterClass provides unique insight into finding and developing successful ideas, creating characters and plot lines, putting pen to paper, and making it as a writer. It's a rare opportunity to learn from the most enduring writer of our time.

If you’re reading this James Patterson MasterClass review, you’re likely interested in what it can teach you about writing and whether it's the right MasterClass for you.

Before weighing up the pros and cons to help you decide, here are some key points:


Quick summary

  • Find and develop compelling ideas
  • Craft interesting and believable characters
  • Write effective and plot-driven dialogue
  • Build suspense in your writing
  • Overcome writer’s block
  • Edit and polish your work
  • Get published in a competitive industry
  • Market your book on and offline


  • Learn from a successful author
  • Strong additional resources
  • Condensed and easy to follow
  • Touches on aspects often overlooked in other writing classes


  • Does contain spoilers to his books
  • Subjective advice
  • Limited in use of other sources

Course length: 21 lessons, 3 hours 50 minutes

Best for: Those who are serious about creating a novel/in the process of writing

Overall: A concise and snappy MasterClass covering the basics of commercial writing. It offers pragmatic advice about writing every day and even gives you an outline from his book, Honeymoon (view details)

Now, I’ll explore James Patterson’s MasterClass in some depth. In particular, I’ll focus on class content, pros and cons, and alternatives.

Here’s what I’ll look into:

  • About James Patterson and MasterClass
  • Inside the James Patterson MasterClass
  • What I liked/disliked
  • Who the course is for, prices, and alternatives
  • What others have said about the MasterClass
  • Verdict – is it worth it?

First, here’s some basic info:

About James Patterson

James Patterson is an American author best known for his serial works, including the Alex Cross series and the Women’s Murder Club.

His many accolades include the 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. He also topped Forbes’s list for highest-paid author between 2013 and 2016.

Many of his books have been No. 1 bestsellers, and he has sold over 325 million copies of his books worldwide.

If you’re looking to learn writing from a business-minded and commercially-successful author, this is probably the MasterClass for you.

And if you haven't seen the trailer for James Patterson's MasterClass, I highly recommend you watch it:

About MasterClass

Online classes created for students of all skill levels

MasterClass is an online educational resource founded in 2015 by Yankee Industries Inc. With over 80 video lessons from world-renowned experts in their fields, MasterClass has elevated e-learning in recent years.

With MasterClass, you learn from talents such as Gordon Ramsay, Judd Apatow, and Margaret Atwood, as they give you exclusive insight into their crafts. This is a unique opportunity to learn from some of the greatest names in the game.

For a single course payment of $90, you can access any one MasterClass for an unlimited period. After purchasing, the course and its additional resources are yours forever. This includes access to the MasterClass forum.

Along with this, there’s the all-access pass. This is a yearly subscription costing $120, which gives you unlimited access to all MasterClasses throughout the year. This means you can mix and match classes and browse any category you please.

That being said, I don’t think MasterClass is for everyone. In this review, I hope to weigh up the pros and cons to help you decide whether MasterClass is for you.

Inside James Patterson’s MasterClass

James Patterson Teaches Writing

With 21 lessons to explore, James Patterson’s MasterClass clocks in at 3 hours 50 minutes in length. Lessons range from between 5-10 minutes.

The class is broken down into 4 main sections:

  • Finding and Developing Ideas
  • Putting Words on the Page
  • Making it as a Writer
  • Keeping Your Passion Alive

Along with the video lessons, you can also access the Community Hub, a 66-page Workbook, and the PDF outline for Honeymoon.

Here’s what’s inside the James Patterson MasterClass.

Finding and Developing Ideas

At the start of his MasterClass, James offers a taster of what you’ll learn from this course. This also includes who the class is geared towards, as well as what direction he intends to go in.

He gives the following lessons:

Raw Ideas

James Patterson teaching marketing for writers

In this first lesson, James teaches you how to find and develop good ideas. By the end of the class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Find and grow compelling story ideas
  • Test an idea to determine its potential
  • Create freshness from disparate ideas
  • Become open to new fields of knowledge
  • Determine which idea will sell

While James has a clear genre and writing formula, he does give you examples of different ideas that work well for other writers.

As he says, there are many ways to find an idea and make it engaging, but they have things in common when it comes to being effective.

Along with sharing some examples of his favorite literature, he advises on how you can adapt your habits to become receptive to ideas. This includes how to pay more attention to the world around you, ask important questions of your story, and determine what will work as a novel.

It’s worth mentioning James’ background in advertising here, as I could tell from the offset that a lot of his advice centered on marketability and a book’s commercial potential. This was an angle I hadn’t seen in other MasterClasses, and it offered a unique perspective on writing that was new to myself and other users.


James Patterson teaching plot

As James puts it, “character is revealed through action.” Because of this, plot and character are bound, and one often reveals the other.

Like other MasterClasses I had taken (especially David Mamet’s class on dramatic writing), James places a lot of emphasis on drama and conflict when it comes to building plot.

With particular attention to this, James teaches you how to:

  • Condense your plot to keep your readers hooked
  • Raise the stakes by creating conflict
  • Recognize key plot points within a story
  • Understand the difference between story and plot

Overall, this section’s delivery was short and snappy. James gives you some quickfire tips that are easy to understand and put into practice.

In particular, he offers constructive advice on character-building in order to get readers invested. This includes creating worthy opponents for your “hero” and deciding which elements of the narrative are most crucial for your characters.

As in many of his lessons, James imparts some knowledge about marketability and writing for your audience. He offers some insight into his target demographic and how he plays with readers’ expectations to create a satisfactory read.

While most MasterClasses focus solely on writerly craft, James always succeeds in wrapping up his lesson with reference to the readers who’ll be buying your book. This is a nice way of balancing theory with practice, and ensuring that literary technique is backed up with some awareness of the market you’re writing for.


For James, research is a crucial step in the writing process. As he notes, research is both a form of inspiration-seeking and a way to build your credibility as a writer.

In fact, James at times reminded me of more journalistic writers like Malcolm Gladwell when it came to his advice on interviews. His approach seemed to strike a balance between the creative and the factual, which he considers key to the reading experience.

James Patterson teaching research

By the of the lesson, you’ll understand how to:

  • Begin researching an unfamiliar subject
  • Gage the differences between male vs. female readers
  • Find a medium between research and creative license
  • Use POV to ascertain how and what to research

As well as imparting this advice, James backs up these objectives with examples from his novel, Along Came a Spider. Being the first book in the Alex Cross series, this is probably familiar to many fans.

That being said, I don’t think it’s essential to have read James’s works in order to get the case study. He always gives context to his examples and provides backstory on the research he undertook.

My key takeaway from this lesson was the importance of expanding your horizons beyond your comfort zone. This includes talking to different people, researching and experiencing different vocations, and visiting locations to create a more authentic picture for your readers.

Outlines: Parts 1 & 2

James Patterson in his writing MasterClass

Here, James gets to what I believe is the core of his MasterClass: outlines. In this section, James highlights the importance of using outlines to create your novel, and finds the lack of one a key pitfall in the writing process.

As James states, “the only time I face the blank page is in the outline.” In fact, he praises the outline’s ability to break down the novel into manageable chunks and allow you to focus on the story above all else.

James Patterson's weekly writing calendar

He also teaches you how to:

  • Determine what an outline needs
  • Use outlines to focus on story
  • Set yourself daily writing goals
  • Create scenes within your outline
  • Move the story forward and create pace
  • Create interesting and suspenseful plots

Along with this, James also poses questions you should be asking yourself when assessing your story’s quality.

In the second half of this lesson, James uses the outline for his 2001 novel, Honeymoon, as a reference point. Interestingly, James notes that this outline has only been seen by his editor until now, which I think adds some extra enjoyment to its viewing.

For me, this was a practical way of demonstrating his lesson aims. Instead of talking through his outlines, you get a physical presentation of how outlines look on the page. To take this lesson further, you can even annotate the outline with your own notes, identifying where James has used certains devices to make the story work.

Creating Characters

While the last chapter focused more on plot, this section centres on the role the characters play in both driving the story and enhancing reader experience. As he sees it, “You have to create that character that they’re not going to forget.”

In this topic, James teaches you how to:

  • Determine who your character is
  • Add realistic and relatable traits
  • Make your hero (and villain) complex
  • Identify effective character types in media
  • Understand what makes a character interesting

James gives examples of some of the heroes and villains he finds most compelling, including those in his Private Series and the TV show, House. For him, characters need to have certain elements to make them believable and to make us want to follow their journey.

What I liked about this chapter was that James doesn’t only focus on the primary characters. In fact, he gives a lot of attention to the secondary characters in novels and film, and suggests how you can use these characters to enhance readers’ intimacy.

Putting Words on the Page

In this section, James addresses the task of forming your novel on paper. This ranges from opening lines to writing dialogue, chapter-building, and creating suspense. He also tackles the dilemmas that arise from writer’s block, ending your book, and approaching rewrites.

First Lines

For James, first lines are hugely important as they lay the groundwork for the rest of the novel. As well as this, they are the first “hooks” you can give your reader to get them invested in your story.

In this chapter, James shares some of his favorite lines from his novels and tells you what makes them work so well. He places particular focus on how to entice the reader quickly and maintain their attention through the opening chapters.

First Lines lesson in James Patterson's MasterClass

As he puts it, “I need to be as involved as I want the reader to feel.” With this in mind, the early lines require a large degree of emotional investment, for the writer as well as the reader. In fact, James takes you through a couple of his best-selling novels to demonstrate how he created emotional stakes.

By the end of this lesson, you will learn how to approach rewrites to create the best openings, raise the stakes from the beginning of your book, and involve your readers.

Writing Dialogue

Here, James hones in on how to write strong dialogue for your characters. This includes how to use dialogue to drive the story forward, and how to create realism.

James Patterson in his MasterClass

As with most chapters, James takes you through some concrete examples of texts that craft dialogue well. For the most part, these are extracts from his own novels along with his personal commentary on them.

As well as this, you will learn how to:

  • Reveal your character through dialogue
  • Do exposition the right way
  • Use dialogue to portray the passing of time
  • Write to move the story forward

Building a Chapter

James Patterson teaching character development

Quoting fellow author Michael Connelly, James likens the reading experience to “a movie projector in our heads.” With this in mind, a story needs a certain viewpoint, and this can make or break the story.

In this section, Patterson focuses his attention on outlining the types of viewpoints available. He weighs up the pros and cons of each option, addressing their benefits and limitations for certain types of writing.

While he expresses his obvious preference, he does give you some good information to consider when it comes to choosing a POV.

He also gives an example of great chapter-writing as it appears in the Women’s Murder Club series. As well as taking you through a chapter, he also offers some pointers on how to build a chapter effectively.

My key takeaway from this lesson was the writer’s need to find a personal voice, and the exercises you can use to do this. James gives some great advice when it comes to approaching the writer-reader relationship through chapter-writing. It also ends on some practical notes that you can try out for yourself.

Writing Suspense

In this section, James teaches you how to:

  • Know the specifics of your genre
  • Intrigue your reader and keep them guessing
  • Understand your duty as a suspense writer
  • Reward yourself in the writing process

This lesson is the most genre-specific section in the whole MasterClass. In fact, James lays down what he believes to be the key components of the thriller genre. He also pinpoints what makes a thriller effective and how you can keep your reader invested.

Ending the Book

For James, a book’s ending needs certain qualities in order to become a best-seller. Namely, there needs to be a pay-off for the reader that exceeds their expectations.

Here, James suggests ways in which you can set up the ending while maintaining mystery. As he puts it, this is the best way to create a satisfying conclusion that your readers won’t see coming.

James refers to this process as planting “seeds,” which is something a writer must do along the way to build to the finale. As in most chapters, James gives you some examples of successful endings so you can analyze their techniques for yourself.

Finally, James provides some pointers on how to prepare for the ending, and how to plan alternates in order to find the best conclusion. In fact, James sees this as a fairly deep process, which involves plenty of planning and rewriting to get right.

Writer’s Block

In this chapter, James takes you through his views on “writer’s block,” which is a common concern for many authors. James likens his approach to a “freight train,” and voices the need to overcome these obstacles.

Interestingly, he also takes you through how he writes, down to his daily routine and hacks for hitting word counts. This includes advice on how to stay focused, take productive breaks, and practice to improve your writing.

Of all the sections, this chapter is one of the shortest. At the same time, I found this one of the most content-rich topics in the class. To me, this was also the most universally-applicable information that would likely help a lot of writers.


In this chapter, James turns to editing (or “rewrites”). He takes you through what editing is and how you can edit with the narrative in mind.

Along with these, James posits methods for removing distractions and assessing what to cut. He also references one of his co-authors (Marshall Karp) and takes you through their joint editing process.

It’s worth noting, again, that James is a particularly commercial writer focused on crafting best-selling thrillers. With this in mind, he has a very specific way of writing and knows exactly what his readers want.

That being said, much of his advice in this section is based on what he likes in a book, including how to make your book a page-turner and propel the novel forward. He also, quite helpfully, offers some advice on how to stay positive during a task that is often overwhelming.

Making It As a Writer

Getting Published

Here, James takes you through the publication process. Referencing his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, he discusses how he found the right agent for his book, wrote query letters, and stayed motivated.

For me, this was great practical advice for anyone serious about publishing a novel. While straying from the writing side, the publication aspect is undoubtedly important to new writers. 

In fact, many young writers might not even know what a query letter is, and I think James does well to break down the process into bite size pieces.

Overall, James teaches you how to sell your work to a publisher and maintain your spirits in the face of rejection. He leaves you with some questions to consider, especially when it comes to what your publishers/agents are looking for.

Book Titles and Covers

With a focus on the advertising element of books, James teaches you how to:

  • Understand how readers navigate a bookstore
  • Make creative decisions regarding book titles/covers
  • Use key signifiers as clues to your readers
  • Recognize what makes a title work

As James comes from a background in advertising, I think his advice here is particularly noteworthy and well-informed. He talks about his best-selling novel, Along Came a Spider, as a key case study in this chapter.

Along came a spider book cover

James uses this chapter as a way to break down the title-writing and cover-making process. While he admits the author doesn’t have full control of these aspects, he does suggest ways you can maximize your book’s commercial potential by selecting titles and cover styles carefully.

He also references John Le Carré’s book covers, whose he cites as one of his favorites. Here, James breaks down what makes these covers so effective and what they implicitly communicate to the reader.

Marketing the Patterson Way

As I mentioned, James’ background in advertising puts him good stead for teaching these sections on marketing. In fact, he uses this chapter to discuss brand image – an important concept for him and many authors in the social media age.

Presenting this information in a condensed and easy-to-follow manner, James teaches you how to:

  • Take it upon yourself to advertise your book
  • Create a strong brand image and tag-line
  • Use social media to push your image
  • Work with your publisher to get the best outreach

Using The Beach House as a case study, James shows you how you can market your own book and advertise on available outlets. Despite his career in this sector, this chapter is free from complex jargon. In fact, I found this one of the clearest and most concise chapters in the whole MasterClass.


While I don’t think this section is the most relevant for newer writers, it’s an interesting glimpse at how writers deal with Hollywood adaptations of their works.

He discusses the emotional connection of having a work re-interpreted and takes you through how the adaptation starts. In particular, he mentions the Alex Cross series, which he didn’t praise highly. But, he also addresses the more positive representations of his brand, such as in The Simpsons.

Although I think this is interesting for James Patterson fans, I didn’t find it that relatable for new writers. I think Hollywood would be far down on the list for aspiring writers. Because of this, I didn’t find this chapter that insightful, especially as James seemed largely negative about Hollywood adapting his works.

Working with a Co-Author

As a writer who’s often been criticized for working with co-authors, James takes the time to address his collaborative relationship with other writers. According to him, there have been many great collaborators throughout time who haven’t been thought any less of for working together. In his opinion, writing should be the same.

Maxine Paetro, a co-author of James Patterson

For most of this section, you get a chance to hear from James and his collaborators about the joint writing process. This includes how you can find a great co-author, communicate effectively, and maintain the same vision throughout the project.

While I don’t see co-authoring as hugely popular for most writers, this was a nice insight into a different type of writing – especially one that poses its own unique challenges. James takes you through how to negotiate a collaboration and how to work together effectively on something that is often deeply personal.

Keeping Your Passion Alive

This topic focuses on maintaining your livelihood as an author. Namely, James discusses how to reignite your passion when planning your second novel, as well as how to endure both rejection and success.

Passion + Habit

As James puts it, “If you don’t love it, you’re not going to finish it.” In fact, he dissuades writers from pursuing a career unless they’re truly passionate about it. 

With this in mind, this section focuses on how to:

  • Love and nurture what you do
  • Build your confidence as a writer
  • Maintain self-belief through challenges
  • Endure rejection and criticism

Much of this advice relates to James’ earlier points about his writing routine. In particular, he focuses on how you can adapt your lifestyle to your writing career and create a routine that works for you.

With 27 novels in his Alex Cross series alone, James is clearly an author that can produce frequent best-sellers. Because of this, I think his advice here is valuable in helping you to get into James’ mindset.

Personal Story

For James, it’s important to maintain a career-life balance. He shares his personal story on how he does this, especially when producing books so often. This also includes how to navigate success and continue to be inspired to tell stories.


In conclusion, James imparts his final advice to his viewers, and wishes them luck on their journey. He stresses his point on putting in the work to get the most out of this course, and this is something the Workbook provides.

My Experience of James Patterson’s MasterClass

Overall, I think the value you get out of James Patterson’s MasterClass depends on the types of novels you’re writing and the amount of practice you put in. As a lot of the feedback shows, your experience of this class will vary depending on the effort you put in.

Personally, I had mixed opinions about this MasterClass. I think it is hugely valuable for some but less so for others. Below, I’ll outline the pros and cons of this course so you can decide whether or not it’s for you.

What I Liked About the James Patterson MasterClass

Learn from a Successful Author

When Stephen King calls another author successful, that author is probably worth listening to. Throughout his career, James Patterson has published multiple best-selling novels and is currently the world’s highest-paid author.

In this MasterClass, you learn from James himself as he takes you through some exclusive insight into his works. Unlike other classes, which are frequently taught by academics, you get to learn from a successful author who has clearly taken the right steps.

If you’re serious about writing, this is a valuable opportunity to take notes from one of the most successful writers of our time.

Strong Additional Resources

Along with the 21 video lessons, the James Patterson MasterClass also includes the following:

  • 66-page Workbook
    • Subchapters
    • Note pages
    • “Take It Further”
    • Assignments
    • Weekly Writing Calendar
    • Embedded links
    • Recommended reading
    • Chapter reviews
    • Writing samples
  • Honeymoon outline

As I’ll show, users enjoyed these additional resources the most, as they provided a way to actively engage with writing material. This is a great addition to the video lessons as it makes the learning more dimensional and less passive. It is also something you can take beyond the MasterClass itself.

Humorous and Concise Approach to Teaching

While at times James isn’t the best “teacher,” he does a good job of presenting his lessons in a way that's fun and easy to view. Unlike some MasterClasses with lessons that are 15 minutes+, James’ lessons are often short and to-the-point, making it easier to focus and understand objectives.

It goes without saying that James takes his job very seriously and is truly passionate about his writing. At the same time, he injects his lessons with humor and wit, and steers away from the scripted reading you might see in other courses. I personally found this a good way to learn as it felt more like a conversation than a lecture.

Condensed and Easy to Follow

Similarly, the MasterClass as a whole is quite compact. Despite having lots of sub-topics, these are all accessible and quick to get through. To me, this makes the course a lot easier to understand as you know exactly what to expect in each video.

The structure is logical, beginning with ideas and taking you through from writing to publication. This stopped the class seeming too overwhelming, and you could see the clear progression from one subject to another.

It’s also worth noting that it’s a lot shorter than other MasterClasses, which makes it a lot better to work through if you’re fitting it into a busy schedule.

What Could Be Improved

Does Contain Spoilers

I don’t think it’s essential to have read James’ works before taking the course, as he tends to explain contexts quite clearly. That being said, if you’re eager to read his books and want to avoid spoilers, it’s best to pause this course until you’ve done so.

In explaining certain plot details (and even endings), James does include spoilers in his lessons. This is worth bearing in mind before committing to the course, as it can ruin the experience for some readers.

Subjective Advice

Despite writing being heavily subjective generally, James does have a commercial slant in all of his lessons. As a best-selling and highly-paid author, it’s clear that James values a particular type of writing that is easy to follow, gripping, and a definite page-turner.

With this in mind, much of James’ advice is focused on this type of writing. For example, he makes clear that he is biased when it comes to POV, and is unapologetic in admitting so. While he tries to create a balance in this area, it’s very obvious to see where his preferences lie and what he considers good writing.

Limited in Other Sources

Although James includes a lot of case studies and examples, these are almost entirely from his own works. On the one hand, this means he can provide extensive context and commentary on the choices he made in his writing.

However, it’s also quite limiting for viewers who like to see more than one way of doing something. As previously mentioned, writing is subjective, and there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to writing a good book.

While it’s understandable that James would want to show his viewers his own work, it would’ve been nice to have seen extracts from other writers (even to compare).

Discontinued Office Hours

One selling point of this MasterClass is the promise of “Office Hours” where James answers your personal questions. This is a great feature that allows closer interaction between student and teacher.

That being said, this isn’t hugely practical in the long-term, as it necessitates a commitment that continues beyond the course’s promotion. In fact, it does seem as though this was a limited-time offer, as one user notes its absence from the Community Hub:

James Patterson MasterClass office hours

It’s worth noting that James Patterson also featured in a MasterClass livestream that allowed users to ask questions. This is still available to view on YouTube if you have access to the course.

With that in mind, the promise of office hours can be a little misleading, as it’s not a permanent feature of the course.

Not Always the Best Speaker

Despite enjoying James’ conversational teaching style, it’s worth bearing in mind that James is not a professional teacher. As a result, his speaking isn’t always the strongest, and his lessons include frequent pauses and trailing off topic.

For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue. But, if you’re someone that needs that high-quality lecture-style delivery to learn, this might not be the best course for you. In fact, David Mamet (a former professor) has a MasterClass in dramatic writing, which could be more suitable.

Contains Frequent Cursing

As a matter of personal preference, some viewers might find the cursing in this MasterClass a little off-putting. It’s certainly not as frequent as in other classes, but it does occur often enough to be mentioned.

If you’re someone who finds this difficult to listen to, you might want to consider other options, such as Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass, as alternatives.

Who Is This Course For?

In contrast to a lot of beginner-friendly courses, I would say this class is more geared towards serious and more experienced writers. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being a novice and 10 being a professional), I’d say this course is aimed at those between 3-7.

This isn’t so much because it’s geared towards published writers, but it certainly isn’t an introduction to writing. Instead, the class focuses a lot on creating a highly marketable book, as well as navigating publication and advertising.

Because of this, it’s best suited to writers who have written (or are writing) at least one book. A lot of the exercises are practical and designed to improve your writing skills. Most of the lessons focus on publication and success as an end-goal, rather than writing as a hobby.

Learn how to:

  • Find and develop compelling ideas
  • Craft interesting and believable characters
  • Write effective and plot-driven dialogue
  • Build suspense in your writing
  • Overcome writer’s block
  • Edit and polish your work
  • Get published in a competitive industry
  • Market your book on and offline

How Much Does the Course Cost?

Currently, MasterClass has three subscription offers. The price for these (per month) are:

  • Individual (1 user): $10
  • Duo (2 users): $15
  • Family (6 users): $20

All are billed annually, which may seem a little pricey at first glance.

That being said, the value for money comes from taking as many courses as possible.

With 200+ courses on MasterClass, you’re bound to find many that interest you. But, even if you find that only 10% of the courses interest you, this still works out at $6 per course.

And, if you join with friends or family, the cost for each course is drastically reduced. Check out our MasterClass review or MasterClass cost articles to see how.

Bearing in mind that these courses are taught by leading experts, the value for money is unbeatable. Elsewhere, you can pay over $100 for a course taught by someone you’ve never heard of, and it would nowhere near match the caliber of teaching on MasterClass.

Besides, MasterClass offers a 30-day refund policy if you’re not happy with your purchase.

You can also purchase MasterClass as a gift.

Alternatives to James Patterson’s MasterClass

On MasterClass, there are other writing courses available:

Outside of MasterClass, there are other options. These include the 1-hour writing course from Udemy as well as more genre-specific courses on FutureLearn.

While these classes have their merits, I don’t think they compare to the level of teaching and high production values you get with MasterClass. You get to hear from accomplished experts who have done exactly what they’re teaching you. Along with this, you also have the benefit of having all course content in one place.

James Patterson’s MasterClass: What Others Have Said

From my online research, I found that James Patterson’s MasterClass had a lot of mixed reviews. In fact, a lot of users on Reddit were disappointed by the course, stating that it lacked the technical knowledge they’d hoped for.

Yes I took it, and it wasn’t really worth it. I mean, he gives some good advice in the lectures, but nothing I haven’t heard before, and each lecture was way too short. He doesn’t go into too much technical detail. $90 is too steep. Maybe it’s worth it for the feedback to the homework, I don’t know.”
- Comment from Reddit
Although I didn’t take the class, I’ve seen the videos and the PDF worksheet. In comparison to other classes/books on writing, it’s not very in-depth. The one thing I did like, however, was he showed his outline for one is his novels (Honeymoon). I’ve always wondered what they look like so that was great to see.”
- Comment from Reddit

It’s true that James’ approach differs from the theory-heavy teaching you might expect from a writing MasterClass. This is worth bearing in mind before you take the course. To some, James’ approach was actually a plus.

I did the James Patterson one and it was interesting. I think it’s really good for a beginner or anyone interested in his style of ultra-fast-paced thrillers. Maybe not so helpful if you’re looking to write more literary works or worldbuild-y sci fi or fantasy. The best part though was that it allowed me to enter the second James Patterson co-author competition. I made it to the semi-finals, so that was cool!”
- Comment from Reddit

In fact, I saw comments from several users stating this course’s helpfulness in getting them published.

I’m pleased to report that I have just (self-)published a book using the approach in these classes. I was given the James Patterson MasterClass as a birthday present just over a year ago, and followed it through from idea to published book.”
- Comment from the James Patterson MasterClass community page

All in all, the feedback had a clear divide with some users thinking James’ was too “business-first” and others valuing the advice and exercises he gave them. If you’re interested in writing and selling books (especially fast-paced thrillers), this is likely the right course for you.

However, it’s also worth considering the work you plan to do outside of the course. As others have expressed, you get out of it what you put in. With that in mind, MasterClass’ effectiveness is really what you make of it.

What You Will Need

As a writing course, this MasterClass requires only a laptop/pen and paper. There are no other recommended tools.

Is it Worth it?

For me, the James Patterson writing course isn’t my favorite. This is because it often feels like an impersonal and money-first approach to writing, rather than being a creative outlet (which it is to many others).

It’s also very genre-specific and less suited to those wishing to write outside of the mystery/thriller genre. Because of this, it’s important to consider your goals as a writer before committing to the course.

As one user suggested, the all-access pass is likely the best value for money if you’re serious about writing. With this, you can access all classes in the writing category to get a more rounded learning experience.

Overall, this MasterClass is far more focused on structuring and publishing a book than it is on writing specifically. That being said, it’s worth considering the “What’s inside” section to determine whether this course could meet your expectations.

Whether you’re a fan of James Patterson or not, he’s become one of the most successful thriller writers of our time. He definitely has a lot of proven knowledge in writing, advertising, and marketing a book. If this is something you’re willing to invest in, this MasterClass is definitely for you.

Learn how to:

  • Find and develop compelling ideas
  • Craft interesting and believable characters
  • Write effective and plot-driven dialogue
  • Build suspense in your writing
  • Overcome writer’s block
  • Edit and polish your work
  • Get published in a competitive industry
  • Market your book on and offline


  • Learn from a successful author
  • Strong additional resources
  • Condensed and easy to follow


  • Does contain spoilers
  • Heavily subjective advice
  • Limited in other sources

Related articles: Best online writing courses

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does James Patterson’s MasterClass cost?

A MasterClass all-access-pass costs $120 a year ($10 a month). This gives you access to James Patterson, alongside 200+ other courses.

How long is the James Patterson MasterClass?

James Patterson’s MasterClass is 3 hours 50 minutes long.

Can you get James Patterson’s MasterClass free?

No, you cannot get the James Patterson MasterClass free.

Can I get a refund if I don’t like the MasterClass?

Yes – MasterClass offers refunds within 30 days.

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