How to write a damned good first novel

The ultimate guide to fulfilling that long-cherished dream



Course Closed

Really sorry, this course is closed while I work on a much improved version. If you arrived at this page via my free e-course then your name is already on the list and I will let you know when the new course goes live. If you didn’t, and would like to hear about the new course, the simplest way is to sign up for the free course.

Many thanks.

If there’s one thing worse than dying, 
it’s dying with an unfinished novel in your desk.

Have you always dreamed of writing a novel?

During the past ten years I taught the online ‘Writing Fiction’ course for Oxford University. During that time I met many students who had this cherished ambition.

But so often they never got round to it. Either because they tried once and got stuck, or were too overwhelmed to even start.

Whereupon they deduced they weren’t good enough. Sound familiar?

They were usually wrong about not being good enough, and simply got stuck because they lacked a method. They started writing with no idea what they were doing. With predictable results.

This course will give you the method. I will show you everything you need to know.


Proven techniques for crushing self-doubt.
A simple but effective method for generating ideas.
A surprising insight into the nature of reading.
A definitive guide to the secrets of storytelling.
A simple but effective method for constructing a plot.
An understanding of the role of causality.
A surprisingly simple method for imbuing your story with that tantalising will-o’-the-wisp called meaning.
A blueprint to construct a stunning opening to your novel.
A crucial understanding of the concept and nature of the ‘fictive dream’.
Precise instructions on the way to use words to create this fictive dream.

I won’t teach you to have a baby in five months instead of nine.

This is not one of those courses that pretend you can write a novel in a month.

I’m sure you already know such things are not realistic.

However, if you apply yourself with dedication, and follow the instructions about the inculcation of a daily writing habit, you should be able to finish your first draft in three to four months. Perhaps a bit longer.

The first draft is far and away the most important task. If you finish it you will almost certainly be able to go on to complete your novel.

And take it from me, if you do that, you will feel amazing. You may even find yourself purring like a cat.

I did.

What’s in the course?

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

Please note, the price quoted is exclusive of tax. In the European Union digital products attract 20-25% tax and, if you enrol from a member country, the system automatically adds the tax and remits it to the fat cats in Brussels. It doesn’t go to me and is beyond my control. Sorry about that.


Occasionally asked questions

What if I am unhappy with the course?

That’s the last thing I want. If you are not happy with your purchase, contact me in the first 30 days and I’ll give you a full refund, no questions asked.


How long do I have access to the course?
A lifetime. After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across all your devices.


Is there direct tutor instruction?

No, the course takes the form of a series of video lectures that you follow at your pace. You are welcome to email me at any time with questions you may have. I love to hear from students.


How does this relate to the Oxford University Course?

I was invited in 2009 by Professor Sandie Byrne to write the ‘Writing Fiction’ course for the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, and taught it for the next 9 years.  This course is a distillation of my experience teaching hundreds of students on that course, together with 18 years as a full time novelist. The Oxford course is more generally about writing fiction whereas this course is specifically designed to teach aspiring novelists to write their first novel.


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

Sandie Byrne

Associate Professor in English, University of 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.

Nia Campbell

Freelance writer, Cardiff

The course has exceeded my high expectations. 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.

Dr. Clive Sherlock, Oxford

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!


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


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

It’s amazing what the imagination can come up when Malcolm Pryce is your tutor.

His writing advice is encouraging, reassuring, heartening and liberating.

I’ve been failing to write a novel for the past thirty years. At last, thanks to this course, I’m doing it, and spending some happy hours inside my own fictive dream.

Victoria Raden


A few words about me

A few years ago now the Sunday Telegraph was kind enough to call me the ‘The King of Welsh Noir.’ Well, when they make you a King there is an obligation on you to beget an heir, or perform great public works. I opted for the latter and the result was this course.

My first novel, Aberystwyth Mon Amour, was published by Bloomsbury in 2001. Since then I have written seven other novels for them.


Before taking up writing full time I was an advertising copywriter, in London and later in the Far East. Although advertising is often disparaged, it is good training for writing. Principally because you are writing for people who don’t like you.

In 1998 I quit and took a year off to write Aberystwyth Mon Amour, the first draft of which was finished on board a cargo ship off the coast of Guyana.

The novel was published in 2001 and was well received and my editor at Bloomsbury suggested I write more in the series.
I duly rented an apartment in Bangkok for three months and wrestled with the problem of how to continue a series about a town I had carelessly wiped off the face of the earth at the end of Book One. Somehow that three months turned into seven years, and one book turned into a cult series. I left Bangkok in 2007 and now live in Oxford.

Pryce’s fictional Aberystwyth is a sustained masterpiece of dark imagination

Daily Telegraph

Sheer delight…already one of my favourite books of the year

The Guardian

Pryce really is in a league of his own

Time Out

Work first: wash later—W. H. Auden

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