Q&A with James Patterson discussion

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The Writing Process

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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 10 comments Mod
As one of the most prolific authors working today, James Patterson will no doubt have some great insights into his writing process and how writers work today. This is the thread to ask questions related to the writing process and his work habits.


Charlotte (Buried in Books) I've read several of James' books that have been written with co-authors and I'm interested to know how that relationship works. How much input he has. Does he hand it over to the co-writer once the initial premise of the story has been devised?

Given the number of books he produces in a year he must be restricted on the amount of time he can spend on a project.


message 3: by Paula (new)

Paula Ratcliffe (paulacbs) How do you come up with writing various themes, like magical and mystery as I know there are some who try to cross over to other genres. Do your co-writers assist with that?


message 4: by Eve (new)

Eve (emusings) Where do you get your inspiration for various characters etc?


message 5: by Michele (new)

Michele (micheleleivas) | 5 comments Did you deliberately start out with the intention of ending every chapter on a cliff-hanger? I've noticed that it gives you a lot of freedom to make the chapters as long or as short as you'd like. As a writer, I would think that gives you more breathing room and prevents you from hitting a wall when trying to write a "normal" chapter length. Is that true?


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan (superbookfreak) Do you use real life people to get your inspiration for the characters? What about the real life events?


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

As a new writer, I started off by winging it and found myself getting stuck. I knew the plot I wanted to get through, but the specifics were sketchy. I decided to try an outline first and found that it has really helped me get my ideas out without worrying about how things sounded yet. Do you "wing" it, or do you plot out an outline first?


message 8: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Davidson | 7 comments Everyone took the questions right out of my mind :) I want to know the same thing, what gives you your inspiration?


message 9: by Rachael (last edited Nov 11, 2010 06:33AM) (new)

Rachael How do you decide what to put into your books? What made you decide to put environmentalist issues into your books? I thought your Maximum ride books were brilliant before. And frankly I was quite upset that you put that stuff into your books. After all, a whole TON of authors are sneaking environmentalist issues into their books when they don't need to be there. I care about the environment and I believe that it is a good cause but when I read I just want to read good plain fantasy with no politics in it. I'm sorry if I'm being rude for asking these questions. And I'm sorry if you can't really answer them. I've just been disappointed with multiple authors who put issues into their books.


message 10: by Kat (new)

Kat (sugaraddict) I know I'm not James Patterson, but I think it just really played into the plot. Because why else would they be there? Because they like freezing their as* off?


message 11: by Ruth (last edited Nov 11, 2010 06:59AM) (new)

Ruth Hey, I was wondering something. In the back of Fang it says that on your website you can submit your own chapter of Maximum Ride and it might be put into the next book. I went on to your website and didn't see any place to submit that. Has a deadline already past? I only read the book a month or two ago.


message 12: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Well, the author can choose wherever he wants to put them. They didn't need to be in an icy place at all, they could have been in the city saving the world from something else. The whole plot could have been different! But it wasn't, it is what it is, so I'm just wondering why he had it that way.


message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Subject (jaysubject) I have read many of your books and appreciate the short chapters you have in each. I find they help to build suspense and make it easier to say "Just one more chapter" while reading. I've read a lot of books recently by authors who try to emulate this style. Some have succeeded and some have fallen short. Can you give any tips or secrets on how to write effective short chapters?


message 14: by Mirela (new)

Mirela (awkward_squirtle) Hello Mr. Patterson, I just have a quick question. I have not looked at any of your previous answers to interview questions, my question is simple and complicated at the same time. Why do you write? What is your purpose behind every book series? Thank you very much.


message 15: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Some great questions. As a writer I'm curious to know your answer to most of them. My question is about characterization. In my characters, even the nastiest most vile of them, there's always a bit of 'me' in there. How much of your characters' personalities do you feel reflects your own character (good or bad)? If you don't think they are like you at all, do you think that authors should try to separate themselves from their characters?

Have I made any sense?


message 16: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Parker (sarahlizaparker) | 10 comments James, I want to know if you ever write the end before the beginning? I don't but, tons of people keep telling me it works but I am unsure. I also would like to know when and where you come up with ideas. Do they just pop in your head or do you attempt to bring ideas forward? These are my only questions (for now).


message 17: by Eve (last edited Nov 11, 2010 04:25PM) (new)

Eve (emusings) Are there any writing tips that you could share, as an aspiring writer I would love to hear any tips you can offer... thanks!


message 18: by SilverForrest (new)

SilverForrest | 3 comments James, any good tips you wish to share? I would really appreciate it. And as mentioned before, does it really help to write the ending first? Though i have never heard of that before.


message 19: by Abarna (new)

Abarna Nathan (xxBeenieBabyxx) | 2 comments Hi James! I love to write, and I'm hoping to get published, but I'm only a teenager so I'm beginning to question if anyone will really take my seriously. But anyway, I was just wondering, do you have any tips for me about how I could work on getting published? Once you finishing writing your books, what steps do you take to get them published?
Better yet, how did you get your first book published?


message 20: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 2 comments Hello! I hope to be a writer one day (as I am just a teenager) and I love to write but I have trouble coming up with plot lines. Any tips for young inspired writers?


message 21: by Baneen (new)

Baneen I have problems with coming up with the trouble between books. Can you suggest any ideas?


message 22: by Carla (new)

Carla (nonnago) | 3 comments Mr. Patterson,
I have read most of your books. I have enjoyed some more than others, but never decide not to read one, than One may be the most inspired.
People tell me to "just write", not for others but for myself, write what I know. Is that how you began to write and grew in your writing from there? Thank you for your talent and sharing it with your readers. Carla


message 23: by Ruth (last edited Nov 13, 2010 05:39AM) (new)

Ruth (brainfood) | 5 comments This question crossed my mind eversince I've read your first book on the Women's Murder Club series 1st to Die. How were you able to successfully write the stories for the Women's Murder Club series when you are a man? Did you internalize like what actors do? The characters are so true-to-life. Nitty-gritty details like what transpires in an all-ladies chat over drinks... their clothes... fashion-styles... how a woman reacts to a situation. You were able to bring them out. I wonder what preparation you do to be able to do that.


message 24: by Denae (new)

Denae Christine (denaechristine) So, the first three MaxRide books were extremely awesome, and the next two were pretty awful (I didn't read Fang). Sorry. Did you use ghostwriters on any of them? Did you switch ghostwriters between books three and four? Did you use a different editor? Did you lose all your MaxRide notes when book 4 was written? What happened?


message 25: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 3 comments If you could choose one thing that you believe catapulted your success..........what would it be?

Thank you, Mr Patterson.


message 26: by Afsana (new)

Afsana (afsanaz) Charlotte (Buried in Books) wrote: "I've read several of James' books that have been written with co-authors and I'm interested to know how that relationship works. How much input he has. Does he hand it over to the co-writer once ..."

my question is similar to the above

My one big question that I would like to know and will be asking is how to co-authoring work? what parts do you write and what parts do the co authors write or is it you ive them an outline and then they write the content and then you tweek it?


message 27: by Hyper Chick (new)

Hyper Chick | 2 comments what i would like to know, is how do you organize your writing? I'm a bit of a writer myself, but once i start out one of my stories, i write a bit then get stuck and don't know how to continue. Do you have any advise to us writers?


message 28: by Emily (new)

Emily (emigirl1013) | 3 comments Do you find it more difficult to write for a teen audience than an adult one and how do you find ways to relate to that audience, seeing as you are doubtlessly not a teenage girl?


message 29: by Emily (new)

Emily (emigirl1013) | 3 comments I am referencing Maximum Ride here, in case anyone missed it.


message 30: by Jennigma (new)

Jennigma (maggie230173) | 7 comments Emily wrote: "Do you find it more difficult to write for a teen audience than an adult one and how do you find ways to relate to that audience, seeing as you are doubtlessly not a teenage girl?"

Emily wrote: "I am referencing Maximum Ride here, in case anyone missed it."

I'm curious about that as well.


message 31: by Carla (new)

Carla (nonnago) | 3 comments Maybe it is b/c I'm older (I mean OLD) that I didn't enjoy Max Ride I did watch a little of Twilight with my Grandaughter and sort of like it so i've started max Ride again. Why is there so many Vampire, and series books out this days? Carla


message 32: by Steven (new)

Steven (tbones) | 16 comments I'm guessing this is the topic I should ask my questions under?
My first question deals with the enthusiasm you wrote both the Maximum Ride and When The Wind Blows books with. You seem to get very excited about all the scientific discoveries and genetic research of coarse, is a major field, what other scientific break throughs excite you and are there any other subjects that you plan on pulling ideas from? Have any Science/Discovery Channel shows spark new paths for you? How about those glowing mice or monkeys that use mind control to manipulate a robotic arm?
My second question has to do with all the co-author work you have been doing. Goodreads has many great new authors on board here, do you think you may find your next talent within this site, and would you be willing to participate in any of the writing contests within these groups in hopes of finding your next writing partner?


message 33: by Jon (new)

Jon Say (jonsay) | 2 comments Mr. Patterson,
I thoroughly enjoy your books! Here is my question: Many of your recent books have been co-authored. How do you choose who is going to co-author with you? Thanks!

Jon Say


message 34: by Emily (new)

Emily | 3 comments Where do you get all the ideas for your books? They are all amazing, and I just want to know how you come up with the plot. Thanks!


message 35: by Laura (new)

Laura | 1 comments Do you have any plans to do any more non-fiction books?


message 36: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Stadel (jnn38364) | 1 comments I was wondering when you wrote your first book ever, did you have a hard time finding a publisher to print the book? If so how long did it take to find someone willing to take a chance on you?


message 37: by Shorty (new)

Shorty | 1 comments How do you write so many books in one series? Like the Alex Cross series how do you get your ideas to keep going, where you write one book after another?


message 38: by Annie (new)

Annie McDonnell (mchorsky) | 3 comments What inspired you to move between the crime, thriller genre and the more heartfelt, romantic genres; like "Sam's Letters to Jennifer", etc. thank you, Annie


message 39: by Nathan (new)

Nathan What inspired you to base the fourth Maximum Ride book, The Final Warning, on global warming?


message 40: by Chey (new)

Chey (cheydancer) | 2 comments How do you get out of that pesky thing called writers block? Do you just write on through and then go back when it comes editing time or do you have any excercises?

PS. I am a writer two I have written two books, and I am a BIG fan of the Maximum Ride books.


message 41: by David (new)

David jones | 7 comments Mr. Patterson, I am 15 years old and I have read several of ur books including all the max ride books so far, witch and wizard, and even the three daniel x books. Anyway, I love to right, but I try to wing it. I get like a plot developed, but im not that great at putting suspense in my writing. How do you do it?


message 42: by Mary (new)

Mary Stevens | 5 comments Hey, Mr. Patterson! I really love to write, and I hope to become a published author in the near-future. Do you think you could give me a few tips on the whole writing process? I feel that fanfiction.net is not nearly enough to help me get a good feel for the real deal. (Hey! It rhymed!) Any pointers or advice?
-Mary


message 43: by Emily (new)

Emily | 3 comments Ok, I know I already posted something before, but how did you get published the first time? I love to write, and hope to be published one day, but I don't know how to go about doing that. Do you have any suggestions?


message 44: by James (new)

James Patterson (jamespatterson) | 53 comments Mod
The trick to avoid staring at that first blank page for too long is to outline. I always plot out how I want my story to go, and then make the outline thicker and thicker. It’s worked for all sixty-one of my books.


message 45: by James (new)

James Patterson (jamespatterson) | 53 comments Mod
I put myself through college by working nights at a mental institution. After seeing the many different people pass through there, and I mean different, I knew I had to start scribbling, telling stories that just couldn’t be ignored.


message 46: by James (new)

James Patterson (jamespatterson) | 53 comments Mod
I don’t really find it more difficult to write for teens. The story’s got to be exciting, and I have the feel the emotion in each page of any of my books, otherwise it’s not going to work. Kids love to laugh—well, we all love to laugh, don’t we?—so I make sure to keep the story full of as many punchlines as there are punches.


message 47: by Steven (new)

Steven (tbones) | 16 comments My first question deals with the enthusiasm you wrote both the Maximum Ride and When The Wind Blows books with. You seem to get very excited about all the scientific discoveries and genetic research of coarse, is a major field, what other scientific break throughs excite you and are there any other subjects that you plan on pulling ideas from? Have any Science/Discovery Channel shows spark new paths for you? How about those glowing mice or monkeys that use mind control to manipulate a robotic arm?
My second question has to do with all the co-author work you have been doing. Goodreads has many great new authors on board here, do you think you may find your next talent within this site, and would you be willing to participate in any of the writing contests within these groups in hopes of finding your next writing partner?


message 48: by Afsana (new)

Afsana (afsanaz) My one big question that I would like to know and will be asking is how to co-authoring work? what parts do you write and what parts do the co authors write or is it you ive them an outline and then they write the content and then you tweek it?


message 49: by Steven (new)

Steven (tbones) | 16 comments Oh and people that pass through a mental institution? I was hoping those doors had locks on them :O)


message 50: by Allenj2222 (new)

Allenj2222 | 4 comments hey i was curious how one goes about getting something published. i believe i have something that is good but one never knows. i was curious if u'd be interested in seeing it and helping me?


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