Novel Writing Tips: How to Finally Write Your Bestseller This Year, According to James Patterson

How do you come up with all your different ideas?

Oh I do not know. It’s an illness. I will donate my brain to science and they can test it and figure it out. I don’t know what it is. I have a folder in my office here, and it has a clever title: “Ideas.” It is about nine inches thick, and there could be anywhere from one to 10 or 11 ideas on each page. Every once in a while, when I think about writing another book, I start flipping through it and maybe jotting down six or seven of the things in it. I’m just thinking, can I make this into a story? Every once in a while there’s something that’s been in there for a long time, and suddenly, I know how to tell a story around it. If you can write the beginning and the end, you can make a living as a writer. If you write averages, you win Pulitzers, Nobel prizes and stuff. But with the beginning and the end, you will do just fine.

So this routine from 8:00 to 6:00—

With pauses, with pauses. I am very lucky because my wife and I love each other. We love being together. In my autobiography I write, and this is true, every night we go to sleep holding hands. And one of my comic lines about her, which is also true, is: “If any of her leaves me, I’ll go with her.” That’s another habit, another routine, but it’s a really good one. We are best friends, we love to talk to each other and people we meet who don’t like to talk to each other makes it really hard. It’s just like, “You know, you’re really pretty…”. This is not enough.

In your daily routine, how much do you spend writing and how much looking at other things your co-authors wrote?

Well, it could be anything. Practically every day I will have things to read. In terms of the routines we go through with the co-writers, 95 percent of the time I’m going to write a 50-70 page outline. So I encourage the co-author to contribute, because I want the contributions to be emotionally engaged, which is important. If they’re just going to do a blue collar job, I really don’t want them. I want to see pages every two weeks, unlike publishers who say, go ahead, and then a year later you go, that’s not what I was looking for. But every two weeks I can say “Awesome” which I like to say, “you’re the best, that’s great, best pages ever.” Or I might say, “We’re going sideways here. We’ve lost our groove. This is not the tone of voice of a Women’s Murder Club story,” or, “We’re not buying this part,” or, “These three chapters feel flat.” .” It’s much easier to manage 30 pages than 400 pages.

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