If you’ve ever considered going back to school for your Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, grab the Portable MFA first.
The introduction alone is worth the cost of the book.
I’ve been tossing around the idea of going back to school for years. I took a class once. The teacher pulled me aside one day after class and asked why I was taking the class. I told him I was pursuing publication in genre fiction, romantic suspense actually, and that I wanted to improve my skills.
He told me essentially the same thing that the Portable MFA will tell you, and teach you, that you can spend $50,000 on an advanced degree, or you can write and improve your skills. Neither promise a career like that of Nora Roberts or Charlaine Harris, but you won’t be $50,000 in debt if you simply dedicate yourself to the craft of writing.
It’s Ultimately Up to You
Of course the key there is to dedicate yourself to the craft of writing. That means learning the concepts and practicing. That’s one thing actual college coursework will do for you – you’ll have to complete the homework and assignments. It inevitably forces you to be focused on writing. However, if you can find your own focus and determination, with the help of great books like the Portable MFA, you can save tons of time and cash.
Inside the Portable MFA
Now, the Portable MFA of course takes their advice further. They offer specific chapters dedicated to the craft of writing. The first chapter and the one that will likely be most relevant to you is the first chapter, Fiction. There are also chapters on magazine writing, memoirs, play writing and poetry.
I’ve focused my attention on the fiction chapter for obvious reasons. The chapter is divided into essential elements of fiction and becoming a better writer.
For example, plot. The author (and there is a different instructor/author for each chapter) then offers valuable writing exercises related to the topic. If you do all the exercises and take the chapter seriously, it’ll take you about a week to get through the content. That’s reading and doing the exercises for just one chapter.
Does it mean you’ll be an accomplished fiction writer at the end of the book? Probably not. It does mean that you’ll have learned all of the elements they’ll teach you in college. You’ll have learned them in a fraction of the time and it’ll only cost you about $12.
Best suggestion, buy or borrow the Portable MFA, read the Fiction chapter and do the work. And then do what everyone has to do to become a published and skilled writer – write! Practice what you’ve learned, improve your skills and you’ll be way ahead of other aspiring writers.
To your success!