How to Stop Revising and Start Submitting Your Novel

I moved to Paris in August of 2018 with a completed draft of a novel. Not just a completed first draft, but a draft that had been through several serious revisions. My plan was to take one more look at the novel, do one more round of revisions, and send it to my agent by December of that year so that I could start my next book.

I’m not sure what happened, but by the summer of 2019, I still hadn’t sent the book to my agent. I had started the new one, but fitfully, because the old one was…


Embracing Uncertainty, Solitude, and the Ticking Clock

I’ve been writing seriously for more than half of my life, and writing for the love of it ever since I could pick up a crayon and write two-word stories about my dog, a champagne cocker spaniel named Muffin who caused a great stir by biting a neighbor child beside our above-ground pool in Theodore, Alabama. Of course, my story contained none of those details. “Muffin bites” was the extent of it, although I did not quite get the spelling right. Muffun bits, I wrote. It was not an elegant beginning, but it was a beginning nonetheless.

I was not…


How to Plot and Structure Your Novel

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.” Vladimir Nabokov

Of course, there’s more to plot than getting your character up a tree, but it’s not a bad place to start.

When I made my first attempt at writing a novel about 25 years ago, the most difficult craft issue I faced was plot. I had been reading and writing literary short fiction in graduate school, and one thing we rarely discussed was plot. …


Dear Writers,

I hope you’re having a great summer, filled with good books and good writing days. I’m excited to share a bit of news with you: my new novel, THE WONDER TEST, published by Atlantic Monthly Press, just hit shelves this week.

This Silicon Valley thriller with a side of espionage was a long time in the making. Although I’ve been an FBI spouse for 25 years, this was my first time to write about an FBI agent.

You can read the story behind the book in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s one of Amazon’s Best Books of July


“International spydom meets cuthroat suburban elitism…”

My new Silicon Valley novel, THE WONDER TEST, hits shelves today. This novel was a long time in the making, a final draft in hand months before the college admissions scandal hit the news. Although THE WONDER TEST isn’t about college admissions or cheating, it is about high-stakes education. The real-life scandal gave credence to the novel’s underlying premise: that the over-the-top pursuit of a community-sanctioned version of “excellence” can rise to cultish and terrifying levels.

In THE WONDER TEST, recently widowed FBI agent Lina Connerly relocates from New York City to an affluent suburb in Silicon Valley with her…


Adventures of a Dilettante Doge-Mom

A few months ago, I bought twelve dollars worth of Dogecoin at five cents per coin. I only did it to amuse my teenage son, who was making relentless fun of Doge bros. When I showed him the transaction, he started laughing hysterically and said, “You just threw away twelve dollars!” My husband said cheerfully, “Don’t tell your mom about Reddit memes. She’ll buy anything.” The two of them made jokes about buying me a garbage can where I could stash my money. Perhaps I’d like to keep my purse by the toilet? They started calling me Doge Mom. …


The brief and wondrous joy of reading and writing flash fiction

Flash fiction is one of my favorite forms of narrative to write and to read. I enjoy writing it because I can take a break from a novel-in-progress and complete a flash fiction in an hour or less, which gives me a sense of forward momentum. As a reader I can take a few minutes to absorb a flash fiction and feel that I’ve been refreshed, or maybe shored up, or possibly even levitated, depending on the story.

For the Fiction Attic Press Flash in the Attic series, which I’ve been editing since 2012, I define flash fiction as stories…


Note: I wrote this in October, 2020, but I got busy, never quite finished the post, and didn’t publish it. I’m publishing it now, from home in California, as I look back on those last months in Paris during the pandemic.

It’s hard to believe we are now in month nine of the pandemic. While Paris is quieter than usual, carousels are running, residential neighborhoods are bustling, and many restaurants are crowded (unfortunately) during lunch hour. …


6 Personal Narratives That Explore the Writing Life

Lately, I’ve been drawn to personal narratives — particularly memoirs of the writing life. I keep coming back to books that are not about writing so much as about the daily experience of being a writer, the act of making one’s way through everyday existence (children, roof leaks, marriage, moving) while attempting to inhabit a life of the mind.

When my writing comes to a halt, personal narratives by writers help me get back to that coveted interiority, the quiet brain space necessary for the act of making something. …


Learn your craft, grow as a writer, and get your novel on the page

So you want to write a novel, but you don’t know how to begin. Maybe you tried writing a novel in the past but didn’t finish. Maybe you took writing classes in college or even completed an MFA, but you need guidance and inspiration to get to the next level.

In Novel in Nine, you will write a complete first draft of your novel in eight months and devote the ninth month to revision. The program consists of a targeted series of progressive video and written lessons, assignments, worksheets, self-assessments, and word count check-ins.

Great novels don’t happen overnight. In…

Michelle Richmond

New York Times bestselling author of the THE MARRIAGE PACT and THE WONDER TEST. Books at michellerichmond.com Write with me at https://thenewMFA.com

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