Hi, welcome to Midwifery for Novelists, in which I hope to help you deliver that longed for brain child: your novel.
This course is aimed at two types of people:
Full details of what the course contains can be found lower down this page, but in essence we cover these key areas:
If you have any questions, write and ask, I would be delighted to hear from you. There's a contact link somewhere round here!
Click on the 'Preview' button below to watch the first lesson free.
The Sunday Telegraph was kind enough to call me the King of Welsh Noir.
Here are a few other nice things the press have said.
Pryce really is in a league of his own—Time Out
Sheer delight...already one of my favourite books of the year—Guardian
Pryce’s fictional Aberystwyth is a sustained masterpiece of dark imagination—Daily Telegraph
Inventive, funny and dark, Pryce packs more style into a sentence
than most authors could hope for in volumes—Big Issue
Marvelously imaginative...You’ll weep and laugh on the same page. Wonderful—Guardian
A uniquely surreal spin on the hoary conventions of noir writing... impossibly weird and, in parts, beautifully lyrical—Guardian
What's in the course?
- Anne-Marie Grabrucker, Munich
As a child I had a vivid imagination and loved to write stories. In high school I had an English teacher who criticised a story I wrote. She said the words and descriptions I had used made no sense and I would never be able to write anything worth while if I continued to write like that.
It destroyed my self confidence to the paralysing point of not being able to write my final essay for my final English exam. I submitted a blank page. I never wrote stories again.
Then I signed up for Malcolm Pryce’s writing course. It totally transformed my outlook on my own writing and reset my confidence.
The course was an inspiring, motivating, fun and enlightening experience. I learnt so much. The only reason why you wont be able to write a book after this course is because you don’t have enough ‘bum-glue’, all the other tools are in place!
- Lesli Lundgren
I have always wanted to write a novel but have never been sure how to start, and more importantly, keep going. Taking Malcolm’s course is a great way to learn writing techniques and provides achievable steps to map out your novel. All of the lessons are informative and full of the King of Welsh Noir’s humour, which makes them entertaining and memorable. I really enjoyed the course and am no longer daunted by that white page!
- Dr. Clive Sherlock, Oxford
This course brilliantly demythologises the craft of novel writing. It starts by tackling head-on the doubts and insecurities that bedevil us all, and then gives simple actionable ways to deal with them. I found this part tremendously empowering - it gave me the belief that I genuinely could do it. Malcolm breaks the process down in various insightful ways - ones I had not seen before, and then takes you step-by-step through everything from coming up with the idea, right through all the stages. The whole thing is presented with great wit and style, and packed with insight. The demonstration novel he constructs to illustrate the lessons is not only instructive but huge fun. Malcolm doesn’t pretend the task is easy, but if you are willing to commit the time and effort, and do the work, this course will get you to the finish line.
- Nia Campbell, Freelance writer, Cardiff
Malcolm Pryce is an inspiration, both as a writer and a tutor. His understanding of storytelling is unparalleled and he has the ability to break down the elements of his craft and to convey them with wit and humour
Dr Sandie Byrne
Associate Professor in English, University of Oxford
Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford
Director of Studies in English, OUDCE
(It was Dr. Byrne who originally asked me to write the Oxford University online 'Writing Fiction' course in 2009. The experience gained teaching those students has proven invaluable in constructing this course.)
I’ve added a lot of material on this page, further down, explaining what the course comprises of. You don’t have to read it, of course, but if you do, be warned, there is a heck of a lot of scrolling and if you go all the way to the bottom you will end up in Australia. Unless you are already in Australia, in which case you will end up in Greenland. If you get sick of scrolling you can be instantly whisked to safety by clicking the handy and strategically placed ‘Enroll now’ buttons. Happy scrolling!
Who's this course for?
Have you ever dreamed of writing a novel?
Plenty of people do, but very few actually see the job through.
Either they never get round to starting because they are not sure where to start.
Or they start and give up, and then wrongly assume they didn’t have what it takes.
If this sounds like you, then you are in the right place.
Having taught a lot of new writers over the years I have come to the firm conclusion that there are three key elements needed to write a novel.
Talent, guts and craft.
Most people, when they encounter difficulties, attribute this to a lack of the first one.
But usually the problem lies with one of the other two.
Talent is important of course. But a little goes a long way. On its own it is pretty useless. A cart with no horse.
Far more important are the two horses you need to pull the cart.
Horse number 1. is called Craft. This is something you can learn, practice and hone to your heart’s content. All artists spend their lives working on their craft. This course will give you a thorough grounding in the art and craft of novel writing.
Horse number 2. is called Guts. This is the vim in the soul you need to undertake any difficult enterprise.
They say 80% of success is showing up. With writing it’s the same. You need to show up at your desk and put in the hours.It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people write to me complaining of the difficulties they are having publishing their novel. And when I inquire further it turns out they haven’t written it yet.
There’s no denying this bit is hard work.Even if you sat down and randomly bashed out 75,000 words on a keyboard it would wear you out.
So if you are only half-serious, or think it might be ‘nice’ to have a go, then let’s be honest: this course is probably not for you.
And I wouldn’t want you to pay for something that wasn’t right for you.
But if you are serious about this, if you want it badly enough, you will find the necessary vim in the soul. This course will show you how to harness it, how to focus it and how to use it to slalom round the doubts that lie in wait for all new writers.
If you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, you really owe it to yourself to sacrifice a few months in pursuit of this dream.
And even if you discover—after all I’ve said—that maybe you were not cut out for it, wouldn’t it be worth it just to find out? Wouldn’t it be good not to have to wonder any more?
That’s the worst case scenario: you tried and it didn’t work out.
Now consider the best: in the immortal words of Lady Macbeth, you screw your courage to the sticking place (whatever on earth that is!) and you stick your backside to the sitting place; and lo! After a few months of graft, you finish your novel.
The angels then immediately transfer you from the huge army of people who talk about doing it to that tiny coterie of ones who actually did it.
Believe me, when that happens, you will find yourself purring like a cat who inherited a dairy.
That’s how I felt anyway, and I would sincerely like you to feel the same.
Think about it. And if you are still not sure, feel free to write to me with any questions you may have.
If we should fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail.
Bonfire of the silk-tasselled smoking jackets.
Mental Boot Camp
The Idea Factory
If you’ve ever attended a reading in a bookshop you will know that authors get bored shitless of being asked where they get their ideas from. So they come up with ingenious non-answers.
I once heard Sandi Toksvig, say, ‘I get my ideas from Ideas-R-Us, but I’m not sure where they get theirs from.’
In this lesson I will tell you where ideas come from. Not just empty theory either. The idea we produce here will form the basis of the demonstration novel. What demonstration novel? See next lesson
There’s another reason new writers give up, isn’t there?
You know how it goes. You sit down and write, and out it comes: scenes, dialogue, description…It just flows. It feels good. But then a doubt clouds your mind. What if it is all nonsense? What if it just looks like writing? The way a duck decoy looks like a duck? What if it doesn’t quack?
You can laugh but that is precisely how I used to feel. The solution is to be found in an insight gained from asking a simple question, one that no one ever asks. Not, ‘Is it writing?’ But, ‘What is reading? Once you understand this your doubts will vanish.
Lessons 10 & 11
Spell like a Pro!
The voice that answered was fat. It wheezed softly, like the voice of a man
who had just won a pie-eating contest —Raymond Chandler
Is there not something totally brilliant about that? You can see the man belonging to the wheezing voice so clearly. But how? This is arguably the most vital skill you can acquire as a writer, and possibly the least understood.
How do you construct a dream in someone else’s mind using only words as your tools? The secret to this weird alchemy is provided by the greatest collection of unsung heroes the world has ever known.
Forty-seven men whose names are now forgotten outside the realm of specialised academia and who were responsible for the only example in history of a committee creating a great work of art.
One moreover that has been hailed as the greatest prose work in the English language. Who were they? The forty-seven men who gave us the King James translation of the Old Testament.
What you will learn:
You know the story. The Sultan adopts a strange new bedtime routine. From now on, he will sleep only with virgins. Then he will behead them in the morning. Before the year is out the town has run out of virgins. Not to worry, the executioner has a daughter who volunteers to marry the Sultan. Her name is Scheherazade and she has a cunning plan. She invents storytelling. In particular she devises the various techniques—principal of which is curiosity—for beguiling and ensnaring the reader. We look at her recommendations: they kept her head on her shoulders for 1,001 nights, and will ensure your readers stay hooked too.
What you will learn:
Seven venerable techniques for keeping your reader captive in a cage of words.
Work first, wash later—W H Auden