Online Novel Writing Class

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Are you writing a novel?

My Online Novel Writing Class is now open for enrollment.


Novel Writing Master Class: a 6-week online writing intensive featuring professional critique, weekly lectures and discussion forums, and informative, inspiring live video chats.


This class isn’t for everyone. Who qualifies?

  • Are you writing or revising a novel, or do you plan to begin one within the next two months?
  • Are you committed to writing or revising five to seven pages per week?
  • Do you want to hone the first fifty pages of your manuscript before sending the book out to agents and publishers?
  • Do you have questions about how to liven up the plot, find the best structure for your novel, create suspense, make the characters more complex, and write a memorable ending?
  • Have you found yourself “stuck” at any point in the writing of your novel-in-progress?
  • Have you struggled with beginning your novel?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, my Master Class in Novel Writing will help you reach your goals.

In this six-week course, you will:

  • Work on a specific project: a novel, novella, or novel-in-stories.
  • Get feedback from the instructor on up to eight pages of writing per week, a $750 value.
  • Participate in weekly discussion forums at your convenience?

What we’ll cover:

  • Crafting a compelling beginning
  • Creating and sustaining suspense
  • Structuring the novel
  • Understanding character motivation
  • Using associative writing and theme to enhance the plot
  • Writing a memorable, layered ending

During our three live video chats, you’ll be able to ask questions and discuss craft in real time. All of the Google hangouts will be recorded, so you can watch them at your convenience if you are unable to attend. You can also submit questions prior to the hangouts.


This course is taught by New York Times bestselling author, veteran writing teacher, and small press publisher Michelle Richmond.


  • October 7, 2015 – November 18, 2015. Google hangouts will be held on October 7, October 28, and Nov 18.
  • All course materials can be accessed for six months after the the class ends.
  • Remember, all Google hangouts will be recorded, so you can watch them at your convenience.
  • Please note: There will be no class the week of November 9.


When you enroll in this course, you’ll receive my feedback on up to 48 manuscript pages (a $750 value), in addition to all of the lectures, discussions, and Google hangouts.

If you’re serious about your writing and have been considering getting a professional critique of your work, the Fiction Master Class offers a great return on your investment.

Your page allotment is cumulative; if you miss a week, you can submit two weeks’ worth of writing to me for critique the following week.

Is this class right for you?

This master class in fiction writing is intended for:

  • writers who are writing or revising a novel or who have an idea for a novel they would like to write
  • writers who already have a grasp of the basic elements of narrative craft and are ready to explore craft on a deeper level
  • writers who are avid readers and passionate writers
  • writers who plan to participate in NaNoWriMo but prefer more structure and accountability

Class Structure & Benefits

  • The weekly lecture will address in-depth issues of fictive craft as they apply to the novel.
  • The forums will provide a place for students to discuss their work and their concerns with one another and with the instructor.
  • The Google hangouts will provide a live venue to ask questions and engage with the instructor.
  • Professional, in-depth feedback on your work from the instructor will help you craft or revise the beginning of your novel to grab the attention of agents and publishers.


After completing the course, you will have written or revised about 40 to 60 pages of your novel. You will have a clear idea of character motivation, how your novel should be structured, and what scenes need to be written. You will understand how your novel’s plot works within the context of your theme. You will have a compelling beginning, and you will have drafted an ending.


To receive professional feedback each week on your novel chapters, click here.

To sign up for the lectures, assignments, and Google hangouts (without professional critique), click here.


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best writing app

The best app for NaNoWriMo – 30 Day Novel

best NaNoWriMo app - 30 Day NovelWrite your novel in 30 days with the new app 30 Day Novel. Exercises, inspiration, and valuable advice to help you write a first draft of your novel from start to finish.

Why the 30 Day Novel app is the best NaNoWriMo app out there:

There are plenty of great word-counter apps, as well as apps that allow you to type text in a clean interface on your phone.  30 Day Novel app is different.  It’s a content-rich app that is as educational as it is inspirational. This is an app built by a writer, for writers.
Featuring a day-by-day guide to getting your novel on the page, plus helpful mini-lessons on plot, structure, characterization, dialogue, setting, voice, and more. In addition to the daily guide, a series of 500-word writing prompts will help you get past procrastination to get the bones of your story on the page. The Notes on Craft section includes in-depth articles on the finer points of narrative craft, as well as fascinating stories and advice from successful authors. In the Resources section, you’ll find workbooks, writing classes, and opportunities to submit your work for publication.

Want to write a novel? 30 Day Novel will help you reach the finish line. I developed this app for Fiction Attic Press–a small, independent press I run out of Northern California, which is dedicated to discovering and publishing new writers.

Get it now on the itunes app store.

Writer-friendly features:

  • Use the daily assignments to get your novel out of your head and onto the page.
  • Get a crash course in narrative craft with helpful mini-lessons on plot, structure, characterization, dialogue, setting, voice, and more.
  • A series of 500-word writing prompts will help you get past procrastination and get the bones of your story on the page.
  • The Notes on Craft section includes fascinating stories and advice from successful authors, as well as in-depth articles on the finer points of narrative craft.
  • In the Resources section, you’ll find innovative workbooks, exclusive discounts on writing classes, and opportunities to submit your work for publication, as well as an “ASK” button where you can get answers to your writing questions.
  • At the end of 30 days, you’ll have a first draft of your novel. Once you’re finished, learn the important next steps for revising and publishing your novel.
  • Even after you’ve completed the 30 days of assignments, you’ll find regularly updated content in the form of new 500-word writing prompts and additional notes on narrative craft.

If you’ve always wanted to write a novel but you don’t know where to begin, or if need inspiration and advice to draft your novel, the 30 Day Novel app is for you!


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How to Get Past Fear and Procrastination and Write Your Novel

Anyone who tells you that writing a novel is easy has probably never written one. Here are the five most common statements I hear from people who are struggling to write a novel:

I don’t know where to begin.

I’ve written a few chapters, but I can’t figure out where to go from here.

I have a great idea for a novel, but the idea of actually sitting down and writing it feels too daunting.

I’ve heard you’re supposed to write an outline for your novel, so I did. Now what?

I’ve actually written a novel before, but I put it away because it isn’t good enough to send out.

No magic formula.
If you find yourself nodding your head to any of these statements, I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. The truth is, there’s no magic formula for writing a novel. Writing a novel comes with no guarantee of publication, of success, of sales, of an audience. But if you’re reading this email, you probably know all that already. And I believe that you’ve already made up your mind about one thing: writing a novel is worth the time and effort, the headaches, the inevitable state of not knowing what will happen to the book into which you’ve poured your heart and soul.

You don’t have to know where you’re going.

Too often, novels don’t get written because writers think they have to know exactly where the novel is going before they begin. I worked on my breakout novel, The Year of Fog, for more than a year before I knew what would happen to the child who was kidnapped in chapter one. A year! Most of the how-to books on novel writing will tell you to sit down and write an outline first, and start writing your novel later. My approach is the opposite. There actually will come a time to write an outline, but not until you’re deep into the book, with some key chapters and scenes already written.

Try this:

While I’ve never found a formula for writing, what I have found is a process. It works for me. It has worked for many of my students.

Here are the 4 basic principles.

1.Get some stuff on the page. Write a few key scenes, and fill them with significant detail. Don’t write what you know, necessarily, but write what you care about.

2.Figure out who your characters are and what makes them tick.

3.Put it all together using a process of arrangement that involves your primary story arc, at least one subplot, and thematic associations that add depth and interest to your story.

4.Revise the novel using a revision checklist. Make sure the first 50 pages will catch the attention of one (or all) of these three key people: agent, publisher, reader. Send it out.

I call this process The Paperclip Method.

What’s different about The Paperclip Method is that it doesn’t ask you to know what your story means or where it goes when you begin. It is, instead, a highly intuitive process that requires you to simply enjoy the writing first, and make the tough decisions about what goes where later. Sounds like procrastination, but it’s really about discovery. So often, when working with private clients, I’ll praise a particular section of the book for its naturalness, for the fluidity of the writing and the complexity of the characters. Often, the surprised writer will say, “But that was one of the easiest chapters to write!”


Letting go of the inner tension

I think what’s happened in these sections is that the writer has let go of the inner tension of trying to make the passage fit into a predefined idea, and has, instead, written about what mattered to them in the story.

Forget you’re writing a novel.

So, if you’ve been holding back on your novel because it scared you, or because you got stuck, or because you simply didn’t know where to go, my primary advice would be to forget for a moment that you’re writing a novel.

Instead, begin here:
“I want to write this story because…”

Follow that up with:
“I care about these characters because…”

Then, see where it takes you! You might be surprised.

Learn more about writing your novel with The Paperclip Method.


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Revision: first draft vs. final draft

No one writes a perfect story, essay, or novel the first time around. That’s where revision comes in. The first draft contains everything you wanted to say. The final draft contains everything you needed to say—those things that are essential to the story.

The first draft is likely to have more abstractions, while the final draft should be brimming with significant detail.

The final draft should not contain every detail you find interesting or clever, every detail that came to you during your many inspired and challenging hours of writing. It should, instead, contain relevant details that add meaning. Purple flowered couch may be less meaningful, for example, than the broken pot beneath the window. The purple couch is merely a matter of taste, whereas the broken pot indicates that something has happened—a break-in, maybe, or a more general state of disrepair in the lives of the characters.

The final draft may be longer or shorter than the first draft, depending on your inclinations, but it should be more focused.

I usually edit out many thousands of words over the course of my revisions, but some writers create a skeletal first draft and flesh it out later. I tend to write an overblown first draft and pare it down over time. Whether you pare down or expand upon your first draft, in the end, your final draft should be more focused. The associations among the various parts of your narrative will be clearer, and the themes will have been strengthened by the actions and observations of the characters.

The first draft is your baby, the thing you can’t let go of. The final draft is your concession that a book must be interesting, it must be cognizant of an audience, and it must make the reader want to keep turning pages.

By “concession” I do not mean that you have sold your literary soul, only that you have found a way to combine your best vision and your hard-won narrative skills, in order to make a thing of beauty that is both meaningful and entertaining.

Michelle Richmond is the author of four novels and two story collections. Get her weekly writing and publishing tips, or sign up for an online writing class.

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NaNoWriMo Day 7

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series How to Write a Novel

It’s day 7 of National Novel Writing Month. If you’re following the plan of writing about 1,660 words per day, you’ll have just shy of 12,000 words by the end of the today. If all is going well, by now, here’s what you have established in the past seven days:

  • Your protagonist’s motivation
  • Your setting–where and when the story takes place
  • The point of view: who is telling the story, and from what distance?
  • The premise: what is the primary conflict driving the novel?


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