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James-Patterson-TitlesStudying James Patterson – the poster-boy for churning out blockbuster novels – offers insights on writing.

  • “The only question is, how will the reader respond?” According to David Ellis (source NY Times Book Review) who has collaborated with Patterson on four novels, the only thing that matters is the reader. “Turn. Up. The. Heat.” Ellis continues: “Why speak quietly when you can shout? Why acquiesce to misfortune when you can lash out? Why jab a finger when you can throw a punch? … Why a soft kiss and not a sizzling romp in bed?” Why indeed.
  • Outline your novels. According to an article in Vanity Fair, Patterson creates outlines of up to 80 pages for his books.
  • Know your readers. Patterson says: “I know who my readers are and how to engage them, how to scare them. How to get people to feel for the characters, how to make my readers laugh.”
  • Begin each chapter “with a quick reminder of people and events in the prior one (to refresh the memory of any sleepy reader who put the book down the night before.”
  • Build your brand. In a Harvard Business School case study, Patterson said, “Brands are nothing more than trust. I trust I’m going to be able to pick this up and I’m not going to be able to put it down. There will be tension. And pace. And some sort of human identification, not just with the heroes but also with the villains. Above all my brand stands for story… Editors think it’s about style. It’s not. It’s all story.”
  • Delight your readers. “I love delighting my readers,” Patterson said. “That’s my job—to keep putting questions in front of readers that they must have answered.

Easy to do? No. But great ideas to consider while writing.

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.