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James Patterson's writing process

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

According to James Patterson by James Patterson, he writes with a pencil. He does three to four drafts of an outline. Each outline is 50 to 80 pages long. If his written pages equal a typewritten page it should be about 12,500–20,000 words.

According to, many of his books come out to around 65,000-80,000 words. Since most of the beats have been sorted out with the multiple outline drafts, he's already completed one-quarter of the book beforehand.

This process of outlining is interesting and something my writing partner and I intend to play with. We outline, but only one draft and not as long. Most of our mistakes are discovered in the first draft of the book.

I'm not saying you should follow the exact rules of James Patterson (or any other writer, for that matter), but if you think there is value in a process, it doesn't hurt to test it.


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Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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