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.)
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!