Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Master's Program overview

I spent last week in Pennsylvania at Seton Hill University's Residency for their MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. It was the third out of five for me. (I am the last of the MA program. Most will have six residencies for the MFA.) It is a jam packed week of writing courses, critiques and meetings with published authors who are mentors/advisers and an afternoon with a guest speaker. This time the guest speaker was David Morrell author, best known for First Blood (Rambo) and his newest book Shimmer.
I got to see old friends and make new. It was great to meet my blogger friend Anita Miller, although I didn't get much time with her as it was constant go, go, go for me. (Anita blogged about her experience, too, so click on over and see the program through her eyes as well.)
On Tuesday night there was a welcome reception and introductions. Then Weds, we opened by discussing the general reading book, Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The program asks us to read a book in a different genre every residency so that we can get a good feel for all genre fiction. My first residency we read YA, my second it was Science Fiction, this time Romance and for January's residency it will be Horror. This allows the student to understand the conventions, similarities, and difference in genre. That afternoon was spent discussing readings in the genre of choice for your thesis. In my case, mystery, the book was a classic whodunit by Margery Allingham. That evening was spent with our mentor/adviser discussing our thesis.
Thursday for me was a morning of three student presentations- as part of the program you learn teaching techniques and must give a workshop and then are given hints and helps on how to perfect your speaking style. The workshops were very interesting and I'll speak on them in another blog. The afternoon was spent in a module about clues and red herrings in mystery stories- fabulous, then more mentor meetings in the evening.
Friday was student critique workshops in the morning and the afternoon module was finding plot ideas and twists in news stories-great! (another blog) That evening was a wine social and book signings by alums of the program.
Saturday we were all starting to drag a bit-the days run 9 am to 9 pm. More student critiques followed by the afternoon with the guest speaker who talked about where the book business began and where it is going. Also about finding your light in your writing and more. That evening was another hour by the guest speaker then a books signing and reception.
Sunday morning for me was a wonderful module on World Building in YA followed by more student critiques in the afternoon-my ten page scene was the very last one. Even though everyone was on their last leg, I got some really solid comments. The day ended with a 4 pm good bye reception. Then it was off to the Pittsburgh airport, where my flight was delayed due to bad weather. I finally arrived home at 12:30 a.m. with an armful of information and an exhausted brain. But it was all very much worth it. Cheers~


Marilyn Brant said...

Welcome home, Nancy!!! And--wow--you got to hear David Morrell speak! I really loved reading his book for writers: Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing. I'm sure there was so much wonderful information packed into your week that it'll take a while to process it all, but how fabulous this learning experience must be. Hope you were able to get a good night's sleep ;).

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn,

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, he was a very interesting speaker. Great stuff- and he wished he had more time! :)


Mohamed Mughal said...

Wow, what busy (but fun!) days; I envy your amazing amounts of energy :)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Mohamed,

Thanks! and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Cheers~

Anonymous said...

How fun ... I'd love to sit on on this. I have limited formal education regarding writing but am always ready to learn something new. Have a great holiday weekend.

Stephen Tremp

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sounds like a very intensive but wonderful experience. Glad to see you sharing some of the points.

Darn, you find some of the most interesting things to attend and I only find out about them after the fact, lol!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Stephen, it is a great program for writers.

Hi Sia, thanks for stopping by. lol- I learn so much from your blog that it all evens out in the end.