PATTERSON'S PROCESS: Writing Tips from James Patterson Interviews

Why is James Patterson the best selling author in history? Many writers (like me) are aching to know, so I googled some interviews with him and put together some lists. The fact that he's a workaholic is pretty clear, but that alone doesn't make one successful -- though it helps. (By the way, Patterson is a generous supporter/champion for children's literacy, local libraries, independent bookstores, and cancer research, and other causes.) Here are some crucial tips I found in online interviews (see links below for original articles):


1. A plain, readable style that immediately captivates readers. 
2. Keeps readers in suspense, desperate to know what happens next.
3. The main goal is to tell an entertaining story that captivates readers. He doesn't focus on artistry, social commentary, or realism. If your story is not engaging, he says, then you've got to work much harder at your prose to hold attention. But if you’re just out to tell a good story, the writing is faster. You should be able to communicate your story in one paragraph that catches someone’s interest.
4. Fast pacing, with each chapter and paragraph pushing the story forward. Imagine the book as an engaging movie, keeping audiences interested, picturing the scene in their heads.


1. He first writes thorough outlines of 60 to 80 pages, with one paragraph devoted to each chapter, with specific goals for each scene. He doesn’t waste time polishing sections as he goes, because he might delete them later. 
2. To help with suspense: he imagines telling his story to someone sitting across from him, trying to get the listener to hang upon every word until the end. 
3. Limited description: he uses just enough description to help picture the scene and characters. 
4. He writes in short chapters that help quicken the pace. 
5. He works at finding the “voice” of the story first, then it’s easier to write it. 
6. He remains flexible with the novel, willing to change the outline for the sake of the story. 
7. He writes with confidence, so he isn't bogged down in the details of the writing. 


1. He writes seven days a week -- every week. 
2. His daily schedule: He gets up around 5:30am. After some writing (about 7am) he goes for a solitary walk for about an hour, then writes until 11 am or noon. 
3. His office has few distractions. 
4. He writes about 900 pages of outlines a year. 
5. He has several projects at once. If something isn't working, he switches to another project, which keeps away writer's block. 


You're welcome. Below are the links to the original articles: 

     By Joe Berkowitz, Fast Company (April 16, 2014)
     By Lauren Schuker Blum, The Wall Street Journal (March 30, 2012)
     By Diana Page Jordan, Writer's Digest (May 19, 2009)
     By Noah Charney, The Daily Beast (January 29, 2014)

No comments:

Post a Comment