• MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults

  •  The Tale of Despereaux - Earn your MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults

    Curriculum

    A Finely Honed Core Curriculum

    Nowhere but at Hamline will you find a program that integrates the best aspects of the low-residency model with effective learning strategies developed over thirty years of teaching graduate programs in creative writing.

    Our unique, comprehensive program is not defined by specific required courses; rather it examines the following subjects in depth over the period of five residencies:

    • Elements of the craft
    • The writing process
    • Forms of writing (e.g., picture book; novel--realistic, fantasy, science fiction, historical; nonfiction; poetry; graphic novel; comics)
    • The history of children’s and YA literature (including classic texts)
    • The business of publishing
    • The writer’s life (e.g., keeping the work going, finding and then working with an agent and editor, promoting one’s work, teaching, etc.)

    Children and young adult literature will be explored through a required reading list and lectures during the residencies by experts in the field. Guest presenters such as agents, editors, and publishers bring the business-of-books to real life.

    The Curriculum In-Depth

    Students are immersed in the process and craft of writing while gaining a comprehensive overview of the field of children’s and young adult literature. They are also given the tools to navigate the literary marketplace as preparation for publishing and promoting their work.

    The curriculum is developed over the course of five residencies and four semesters. Each
    residency focuses on one of the five elements of the craft of writing; the residencies build
    students’ understanding of the craft, literature, and business of writing. This work is continued and deepened over the ensuing semester as students work closely with their faculty advisors on their creative and critical writing. Below are the course titles and descriptions for the work done during the residencies and semesters.

    Residencies

    • Groundings in the Craft, Literature, and Business of Writing
    for Children and Young Adults: Plot

    • Groundings in the Craft, Literature, and Business of Writing
    for Children and Young Adults: Character

    • Groundings in the Craft, Literature, and Business of Writing
    for Children and Young Adults: Point of View

    • Groundings in the Craft, Literature, and Business of Writing
    for Children and Young Adults: Setting

    • Groundings in the Craft, Literature, and Business of Writing
    for Children and Young Adults: Theme/Vision

    In Groundings in the Craft, Literature, and Business of Writing for Children and Young Adults, students study the fundamentals of the craft as well as the history of the picture book, the novel (middle-grade and young adult), nonfiction, poetry, graphic novel, and comics with emphasis on the particular element that forms the focus for that residency—i.e., plot, character, setting, point of view, or theme.

    Students attend and write reflections in response to daily lectures and presentations, read and discuss common books selected by the faculty, and participate in daily two-hour workshop sessions led by faculty advisors. In addition, they explore the processes of submitting their work for publication to an agent or editor, working with an editor, promoting their creative work, living life and making a living as a writer.

    Third semester students give a lecture based on the material in their critical thesis; fourth semester students give a public reading from their creative thesis.

    Semesters

    Creative and Critical Writing: Level 1
    During their first semester, students are introduced to the craft and process of
    writing for children and/or young adults. They can choose to focus on the picture book, the
    novel (middle-grade or young adult), poetry, nonfiction, graphic novel, comics, or a combination. Each month students do the following: (1) they do an extensive amount of creative writing and they revise in response to detailed feedback from faculty advisors; (2) they write and revise short critical essays based on issues of craft or topics of interest that arose from their own creative work or from assigned reading; (3) they write a process essay reflecting on their recent work.

    Creative and Critical Writing: Level 2
    During their second semester, students build upon their knowledge of the craft and process of writing. They can choose to focus on the picture book, the novel (middle-grade or young adult), poetry, nonfiction, graphic novel, comics, or a combination. Each month students do the following: (1) they do an extensive amount of creative writing and they revise in response to detailed feedback from faculty advisors; (2) they write and revise a ten-page, research-based essay on issues of craft or topics of interest that arose from their own creative work or from assigned readings; (3) they write a process essay reflecting on their recent work.

    Critical and Creative Writing: Level 3, Critical Thesis
    During their third semester, students write and revise a critical essay of approximately thirty pages developing a topic relevant to their creative work. They continue to explore the craft and process of writing as they move forward with their creative projects or experiment with new work. They also develop a lecture based on their critical thesis to be given during the ensuing residency.

    Creative Writing: Level 4, Creative Thesis
    During their fourth semester, students complete a substantive project of original work that illustrates mastery of the craft in their chosen genre(s) and demonstrates their ability to establish an independent artistic process. They also prepare a public reading based on their creative thesis to be given during their final residency.

     

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  • On the Faculty 

    "I had a middle-grade novel published prior to entering the Hamline program, but I still felt like there was a lot I didn't know. I was committed to writing and wanted to become a master of the craft, how to go emotionally deeper with stories... with each faculty member, I felt like I gained something new and different and continued to gain confidence."

    -- Loretta Ellsworth '09 

    Hamline student quote