Thursday, March 24, 2016

THE OUTLINERS-MAKING ME A BELIEVER by Janice M. Wilson




I was a panster – I admit it.  I still do if the new idea just keeps flowing out of me and I don’t wish to hinder what the new character ‘friends’ have to say. But it does take me a longer time to get that whole story out.  Too long.

I have so many things to finish and so many new ideas to express. 

Who shall I be today?


Just like serendipity, along came these constant ads for an online writing class.  The Master Class series with James Patterson as the teacher.  There are other extremely professional and famous teachers in other crafts, but this one on writing pertained to me.

This course fee was not in my budget but the relentless calling persisted. Still, I threw it out there to my social media friends to see how they would approach this and all were in favor – “Janice – take it!”  Okay, the universe screamed – TAKE IT!  So I skipped joining a fancy gym that has indoor pools for a slimmer figure and better swim skills, and signed up.  Let’s go, James – WHAT are you trying to tell me?

Taking on the literary world - one story at a time.

I get conflicting stories about James Patterson.  He seems to have a -like him or hate him’ type of popularity. Given that he’s the #1 top selling NY Times best-selling author (76 best-selling novels) in the WORLD (Guinness book listed and sales), he surely knows his business.  I suspect that some of that dislike comes from jealousy from other authors.  Also, he writes with co-authors, with wide-spread rumors that the co-author does all the work and James just polishes it up and puts his name on it and sells it.

Yet, his books sell like gourmet cupcakes! I too enjoy his stories for a quick exciting read when that mood strikes me.  They are fast moving and I always like how a reader knows who the criminals are early on. I couldn’t wait for the loser to get caught.  Even if the reader prefers other genres, James still had a fast paced style that played out like movies.


What did James had to say about all this?  He shared plenty through video interviews and workbook online at-your-own-pace practice lessons.

For a quarter of the cost of most community college classes (and I’ve taken a couple in the past), I have life-time access to the class, his input, his lessons, homework, surprising secrets, online questions and answers (skype type videoing conferencing), workbooks, online homework, never-shared-before outline of a successful novel he co-wrote, interviews with two of his co-authors (who defied all the nasty rumors!), and over all constant motivation and encouragement from the master writer himself.  Plus - new friends on his media clubs, online sharing class notes with each lesson.

It was the best class on writing - EVER!
Not just one light bulb came on!

James totes heavily on the importance of outlining the whole novel, even devoted two whole lessons (out of 22) to this topic alone early in the series. This is no new thing to me, something I previously felt strongly against because outlining stifled my creativity and I stubbornly refused to do it.  Although, my pantser ways take me too long to finish things!  

I listened up.   James explained it in a very different way than I ever heard it.  Yes, outline, but make it a list of ‘scenes’, and you can always change them if it’s not working in the novel.   He said ‘just get the story on the paper first, don’t worry about sentence structure now’.

That was a revelation to me! I write by scenes anyway so this blew all apprehensions I had about outlining out of that little stubborn corner of my brain.  Gone was the image of the old school outline with roman numerals that were as exciting as soggy oatmeal on a hot day in July.

ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.........borrrinnggggg


Dialogue, plot, complex characterizing, researching, and writing good short hook were all heavily emphasized as well, a nice marriage to the outline.

ALWAYS KEEP MOVING, he kept pointing out through the lessons. I actively obeyed and went to work this last month.
THAT's why we drink obscene amounts of caffeine...... to keep writing!

I won’t give away any more big spoilers ( there were quite a few other secrets that he divulged with his class and for which I am eternally grateful)!  But I will tell you that if you struggle with some big issues in getting that novel finished, THIS is the class and motivation that you need! (sign-up is still available through July). I enjoyed his down to earth  humor and no bulls*** advice about success; the real deal on the writing life, publishing and marketing; why he agreed to teach this class; some very personal details about his life; and how he started writing. In closing, James wrapped up the class very nicely with one of the sweetest encouraging stories I ever heard given to new writers from someone so successful.


The Master Class also comes with a contest opportunity (with the deadline just before this blog was posted, sorry!)   Cash prizes are being rewarded to 10 talented but less known semi-finalists and 3 finalist writers for their unpublished entries: a 2 sentence hook, a summary of the novel, and a sample chapter.   Out of those finalists, James will chose one student to become his next co-author! 


That’s a lot of exposure for a new writer and this is quite the opportunity of a lifetime!  Who wouldn’t want to give it a shot?

Now the wait begins because yes – I did put in my entry for this contest.  I will not have to wait long.  Even if I don’t win this contest, the time and money for this class were well worth it from early in the series, his enriching advice continued on better and more eye-opening as it went along.  I can only improve my own writing through what I learned.

Lets practice a song while we wait.

That is a win-win already! He did make me a believer in making novel writing easier, quicker, and to have more confidence in my own story telling!  

The sky is not even the limit here in the heart.

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