You, too, can write a best-seller

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Before James Patterson became the Guinness World Record-holder as the author with the most No. 1 New York Times best-sellers (67), he was a struggling writer with a thick folder of rejection letters. Thirty-one publishers passed on his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, before Little, Brown and Company published it in 1976. The thriller, about a Nashville journalist tracking down an assassin, won the prestigious Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America. Still, it sold only about 10,000 copies.

But his latest endeavour is particularly broad: teaching fiction to the masses.

Patterson, along with two-time Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman and tennis phenomenon Serena Williams, is kicking off the highly produced online video service MasterClass, where you can learn from the world’s best. Acting tips from Rain Man? Tennis secrets from the winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles? The secret to becoming the world’s best-selling author?

Four minutes into his second MasterClass lesson, titled “Passion + Habit”, he shares advice his grandfather once gave him: “‘Whether you become the President or a surgeon or you drive a truck, as I do, just remember that when you go over the mountain to work in the morning, you gotta be singing. I do. I’m singing every day,” Patterson says in the video. “If it’s all pain, there’s something wrong.” Ah, shit, I think to myself.

But writing can be as agonising as it is exhilarating.

Patterson, who has been dubbed “the Henry Ford of books,” is revered as much as he is maligned for the rise of his brand. Highbrow literary types chastise him for churning out mediocre prose and cheap thrills and dis his stable of co-authors. Stephen King described him as a “terrible writer”. Critic Patrick Anderson called his second Alex Cross novel, Kiss the Girls, “sick, sexist, sadistic and subliterate.”

Yet Patterson’s success is staggering. Forbes puts his career earnings at US$700 million over the past decade.

Patterson calls his writing “colloquial storytelling,” and his MasterClass offers insights into his process, from killing off characters to working with co-authors and ensuring that readers know a book’s heroes and villains better than they know their own spouses. He also covers practical matters, such as how to get published and market your book. “I’m not setting out rules for people or telling them how to do it,” he says. “I’m just saying, ‘This is the way I do it, and some of these things may be helpful to you.'”

Patterson’s class is filled with snackable takeaways tailored to the aspiring writer, interesting to the avid reader and relevant to all creative types. Establishing a routine, he says, is paramount. He wrote Berryman between 5am and 7am while working at the international advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. Now he writes seven days a week, always on a yellow legal pad. His assistant types up his drafts and prints them, triple-spaced, so Patterson has room to edit by hand.

When it comes to plot, he says, go for “a story, not necessarily a lot of pretty sentences.” If you get stuck, write “TBD” and move on. And always break the rules. Patterson’s books often include the first and third person. “People say that’s cheating,” he says. “Did Moses come down with that? Was that the 11th [commandment]?”

As he puts it, “Let’s face it, I’m not writing War And Peace. I’m not writing Ulysses. But I always try to do the best I can possibly do … You gotta aim for the stars with this stuff.”

– Canvas, Newsweek




“Aim at the earth and you may not get off the ground.
“Aim at the stars and you may reach the moon.”
“Aim at heaven and you’ll have earth thrown in…
and you may even hit the stars.”
– c (as inspired by the famous quote by CS Lewis – 24th May 2012)
“Together, one mind, one life (one small step at a time), let’s see how many people (and lives) we can encourage, impact, empower, enrich, uplift and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials…and strive for and perhaps one sunny day even achieve their wildest dreams.”

About craig lock

ABOUT c the Author Craig has a 'passion' for writing books that tell stories about people doing positive things in this often so hard, sometimes unkind world, occasionally cruel, yet always amazing world - true stories that leave the reader feeling uplifted, empowered and hopefully even inspired. and from and Craig Lock loves to encourage and empower people to be the best they can possibly be, and to create what they want in life. Craig has learnt plenty from the "school of life" (still "battered and bruised") and also from a few "hard knocks on the head". He is an extensive world traveller (on a "shoestring budget") and failed professional emigrater who has spent most of his lifes savings on airfares. He is still sliding down the razor blade of life on the beautiful undiscovered island that is New Zealand, somewhere near the bottom (rude!) of the world near Antarctica. There he talks to the 60 million sheep! Craig has been involved in the corporate world (life assurance) for over twenty years in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. However, through a strange set of circumstances and finding himself in a small town near the bottom of the world ...and with nothing else to do, he started writing. That was five years ago. Five published books later and having written another twenty manuscripts (on widely differing subjects - well what else is there to do here?)... this is where Craig is in the "journey/adventure" that is life. Craig has taught at the local Polytechnic, as well as running a successful creative writing course (not teaching sheep!). He was the author of (as far as we know) the first creative writing course on the internet Craig has many varied interests and passions. He is particularly interested in the field of psychology – studying the human mind and what makes different people "tick-tock grandfather clock". He is fascinated by the "overlap between psychology and the dimension of spirituality". One of his missions in life is helping people make the most of their hidden potential and so finding their niche in life... so that they are happy. Craig’s various books probably tell more about his rather "eventful" life best (no one could believe it!). He writes books with serious messages and themes, then as a contrast "rather crazy, wacky stuff"…to keep him sane here. As an ‘anonymouse’ person wrote: "All of us are born mad; some of us remain so." Well nothing else much happens in quiet provincial New Zealand, other than headlines like "Golf Ball Thrown at Policeman" (it missed, btw!) and "Beach Toilet Closed for Season." True! The various books* that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at ebooks (digital books) Paperbacks (see and"craig+lock"&sitesearch_type=STORE and All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children – MINE! “When the writer is no more , the value of your purchase will soar! “ “Together, one mind, one life (one small step at a time), let’s see how many people (and lives) we can encourage, impact, empower, enrich, uplift and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials…and strive for and perhaps one sunny day even achieve their wildest dreams.” PPS Don’t worry about the world ending today… as it’s already tomorrow in scenic and tranquil ‘little’ New Zealand
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