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Midwifery for Novelists

Turn your dream into a novel

Push!


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:

  • Those who have always dreamed of writing a novel, but weren’t quite sure how to go about it.
  • Those who started and gave up.

Full details of what the course contains can be found lower down this page, but in essence we cover these key areas:

  1. A simple blueprint to follow so that you always know what you are supposed to be doing next.
  2. A thorough analysis of the pleasure readers seek in a novel, in order that we may find ways to deliver it.
  3. Ways to defeat the doubts that are a natural part of any writer’s life.
  4. A demonstration novel. In parallel to the lessons I construct a demo novel that shows you exactly how the theory translates into practice.

If you have any questions, write and ask, I would be delighted to hear from you. There's a contact link somewhere round here!

 




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Click on the 'Preview' button below to watch the first lesson free.

Who is this chap?

Well, let me see. I’ve written seven critically-acclaimed novels published by Bloomsbury of London. And in 2009 I was invited to write Oxford University’s online ‘Writing Fiction’ course.
Midwifery for Novelists is based on my experiences teaching students on the Oxford course for the past nine years.
It also represents an attempt to ‘reverse engineer’ the particular system I devised to write my own novels. I wrote my first novel the way a blindfolded man finds his way out of a forest. You can do it that way, but you end up with a lot of bruises. This is a quicker way.

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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?


There are 14 video lessons, comprising about an hour and 20 minutes.
There are also some course notes. Additionally, I construct in tandem to the lessons a demonstration novel to show how the theory translates into words on a page.


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Malcolm's course put my writing on a different level. I always knew I wanted to write, but often felt daunted or got lost and then it was easier to just give up.

With plenty of humour and wisdom, the lessons in this course showed me how to persevere and to structure my writing. These techniques have have significantly improved it. The art of writing is made accessible, the process is broken down into manageable chunks and Malcolm‘s insights and instructions still help me whenever I struggle.

For someone who felt lost in a sea of words, the course was like being given a paddle and a compass; you still have to do the work, but you know what to do and where to go.


- 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!

- Amelia

I had previously collaborated with Malcolm on a large writing project and found his help to be stimulating, surprising, encouraging, professional, creative, sincere and reliable. He is a master at explaining a difficult serious and important point with humour and without trivialising it. This alone has brought my otherwise dry, humourless writing, to life and given it an engaging vibrancy.

Malcolm once said to me, ‘You need to make it sexy!’ It worked and it worked so well that when he told me about this course, I needed no encouragement to enrol. The course has exceeded my high expectations – as I knew it would. It is filled with insight and humour but best of all you finish what you started because you feel, you know, that you really could do it if you are willing to put in the effort.

I am more than grateful and can highly recommend this course to any would-be author.

- 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

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(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.)

Kangaroo Warning

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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.

Macbeth:

If we should fail?

Lady Macbeth:

We fail.

But screw your courage to the sticking place,

And we'll not fail.

Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are not happy with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
 
 

Lesson 1.

Bonfire of the silk-tasselled smoking jackets.


We start by crushing the fear that you aren't good enough

The notion that writers belong to an anointed set, and that it is an act of presumption to aspire to join their ranks, is a devastating act of self-sabotage. Before we can even begin to look at the skills you need to write your novel, we must first completely crush this fear of not being good enough. This lesson aims to do precisely that. It contains a simple and effective method for proving to yourself that you probably do have what it takes to write a novel. I know you will be sceptical, but check it out. You may be in for a surprise.
 

Lesson 2.

Mental Boot Camp


The only person who can stop you writing your novel, is you.

If you are anything like I used to be, you’ve got more self-defeating behaviours than you can shake a stick of celery at. Writing a novel is like setting out on an expedition. If you don’t prepare mentally, you will fail. And then you will say, ‘See! I knew I didn’t have what it takes.’ Thing is, you do have it. You just need to attend to the demons first.

Fortunately, the task of demon-emasculation is easily achieved. You don’t need any specialist equipment. There is no blood to mop up. You do it with insight. I will show you how.
 

Lesson 3.

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

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Lesson 4

Introduction to our demonstration novel

Theory can only take you so far. In parallel to the lessons I construct a demonstration novel to show you precisely how the theory translates into practice. I invent the whole thing from scratch, starting with an idea generated in Lesson 3. Then I go through each stage to turn it into a novel. Or rather, the first draft of one. You will look at it and think, Hey I could do that! And you know what? You will be right.
 
 

Lesson 5.

The Hero's Journey

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Generations of storytellers have been this way before. They've even left you a map.

Let’s face it: most people haven’t a clue how to go about writing a novel, they just set off with hope in their hearts. That’s what I did. The results are unsurprising. Imagine trying that in any other walk of life. Imagine building a flatpack wardrobe without the instruction leaflet. Our instruction leaflet is The Hero’s Journey, a paradigm distilled from two thousand years of storytelling.


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Lesson 6

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A Tale of Two journeys

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A novel is always about a guy or gal who wants something. That something has to be tangible. The stolen papers, the diamond tiara, the Lost City of Ecyrpmloclam, the elixir, or whatever.

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Whatever it is, the hero won’t get it until the end, principally because the author has to make him suffer first. This is well-known. Less widely known, however, and fundamental to the construction of a novel, is the inner journey the hero makes across the landscape of the heart. In this lesson you will learn how to devise this journey.


Lesson 7

It was the day my grandmother exploded

As children we were misled. While we were young and impressionable they herded us into institutions where specialists called teachers were paid by the State to read whatever we wrote.
After thirteen years of this conditioning, we emerged with an entirely false set of beliefs. We assumed that reading is automatically entailed in the act of writing. If you write, they will read. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to grab the reader by the lapels and not let go. And the place to do it is in the first few pages.
In this lesson we consider the various ways of taking your reader captive.
Lesson 8
Demonstration Novel, Part I

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I go to the lab, wait for lightning to strike the clocktower, and roll up my sleeves.

Igor appears at the door bearing a tray of bread and water. ‘You must eat, Doktor!’

‘No! no, Igor, not now! Can’t you see? I’m creating a novel out of thin air. I take the mindmap from Lesson 3, use it to generate an idea, and lo! I turn it into a demonstration novel before your very eyes. Abracadabra!’

‘Strewth-a-mundo Doktor!’

‘Indeed dear Igor, indeed!’


 



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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!

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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

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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:

  • How most of what you were taught at school about ‘fine writing’ was wrong.
  • That there are two categories of words.
  • And only one type can be used to make a reader dream.

Lesson 12

Storytelling

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

Get started now!