You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a writing class: "Write Your Novel in 30 Days!" "Go from Poor to Published in Seven Steps!" "Sell your Manuscript!" Some of these classes are great, many are not. When I was placed on the Education Committee of the national board of the Mystery Writers of America, our goal was to formulate an all-day creative writing seminar that was consistently excellent. The project was guided by the vision of MWA EVP Larry Light and Edgar-nominated author Reed Farrell Coleman. The guidelines were simple:
- The classes must focus solely on the craft of writing
- The classes should take the student from the initial stages (I've got a great idea for a novel!) to the end, and beyond (what does a writer's life look like?)
- The classes will be built around industry-relevant instruction, not peer critique
- The instructors must know how to teach as well as how to write
- The cost must be accessible to allAnd so, MWA-University was born. As a committee, we brainstormed what areas to cover, how to get the best teachers, and in which parts of the country to pilot MWA-U. The final product is a one-day seminar consisting of six classes, taught by six different specialists in each area. The classes are:
- After the idea
- Dramatic structure and plot
- Setting and description
- The writing lifeOur pilot took place in Bethesda, MD, last October and was a smashing success. Over 100 students registered, and they all left with the buzz of excitement that accompanies an artist with a good idea and the skills to make it happen. Our next session will take place this coming Friday at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books (http://www.sewibookfest.com/). Basically, we go where we're needed, at the request of MWA chapter presidents.
So, how much would you pay for six hours of college-level writing instruction taught by tenured professors, Emmy-winning newscasters, and national book reviewers, every one of 'em also a published author? Fifty dollars sound good? Thought so. Hope to see you at one of the seminars: http://www.mysterywriters.org/?q=MWA-University.
Thanks to Jess for the write up! Now people, go and learn. Write awesome books!! Then send them to me. :)