Friends, we’re here to preach a little hard truth. Some people–famous writers, even–want you to think there are shortcuts. James Patterson has been using Facebook to advertise his $90 MasterClass called something dumb and inviting like “Learn to Write a Bestseller”. The class might teach you a lot, but it might also be a waste of your time and money. Why chance it when for FREE you could just listen to the oeuvre of Fiction School and learn everything you will ever need to know about writing? Including how hard it is, and that you have to fail a lot and keep on trying to finally get good at it. 


  • So, we’re on the Facebook, as y’all probably are. (Go Like us!) And we saw this ad for a James Patterson Masterclass called “Learn How To Write a Bestseller.” Musing on the surface for a hot minute, it seems okay.
  • But. We have Tommy. And Tommy wants to warn us against the James Patterson Masterclass. In fact, he’s here to advocate for an Anti-Masterclass.
  • Want a MasterClass? Here you go. A Library.

    Want a MasterClass? Here you go. A Library.

    Tommy doesn’t mean to hate on the masterclasses but wishes writers would keep in mind that you can’t skip the hard work.

  • Patterson’s promise to teach you how to learn to write a bestseller shows that the class is all about the money. But that’s not what makes writing good. It’s about a writer’s unique voice and vision, and clever mind in constructing the story. That’s what makes a story valuable.
  • “James Patterson is not an artist; he’s a moneymaker.” He’s got a formula, and it works. But that doesn’t make for great writing every time. It’s his rollercoaster or cookie cutter, not yours.
  • You have to fail and try and drag yourself through the mud to become an accomplished writer. Don’t go to one of these masterclasses and expect to have a best seller on your hands days later. You are supposed to fuck up, many times, and learn from it.
  • Yet there are tools and tricks that could be learned from a masterclass. They aren’t a total waste of time. But to write something good, it has to be something unique and organic to the writer, not someone else’s formula. There’s no life in that.
  • If you are wanting to be a writer to make lots of money, you’re in the wrong job. Go be plumber, bus driver, or computer science person instead.
  • The guys agree that mimicking a writer you love is a great way to get started as you learn to write, but you still need to find your own voice and style and move beyond just mimicking.
  • There’s no shortcuts that a Masterclass can provide. You’re not learning how to write; you’re learning how James Patterson writes.
  • Baker offers advice for an Anti-Masterclass: read!
  • Get a library card and just read. Read like a writer–reverse engineer what you are reading and figure out how the writer did what they did and how you can be able to do a similar thing your own way.
  • Do workshops or classes that will be nice and critical. Don’t just have your friends and family read your work. Seek out smart strangers or acquaintances. They will be more candid and ultimately helpful.
  • Tommy has reservations about the masterclasses and low residency MFA programs because you won’t get that atmosphere that will be as open and critical and insightful as the better programs will be.
  • You don’t need to spend $90 in a masterclass. Put that money to something else like this podcast. Or a cat. Or diapers for Baker… well his children. Hopefully.
  • If you have ever been to one of these masterclasses, did you learn something? Did you hate it? Add to the conversation in the comments below.

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