WRITING SEMESTER ASSIGNMENTS
Over the course of the MFA, you may have up to four mentors — one each semester. Before each semester, we ask that you provide your top three mentor choices. We then pair mentors with writers based on genre and seniority in the program.
Once you’ve been assigned a mentor, you will determine together the four to eight books you will be reading and annotating (two per four-week packet) as well as the length of written submission. Every four weeks, you’ll turn in your packet, which includes your written work and book annotations (book annotations are only required the first two semesters, as your last two semesters you will be working on your critical essay and thesis — see below).
Faculty will have the option of using online classroom sites and platforms to conduct conversations with you and receive submissions (Desire2Learn/WorldClass/Dropbox/Email). At your Study Plan meeting during each residency, your faculty mentor will specify his or her preferred method of receiving submissions and providing feedback.
A month prior to every residency, you will submit a sample of your work that will be distributed to the other students in your workshop.
Workshop Sample Page Length:
- Poetry: 5-10 pages
- Fiction: 12-20 pages (double-spaced)
- Creative Nonfiction: 12-20 pages (double-spaced)
Workshop Sample required formatting:
• 1-inch margins
• 12-point serif font (e.g., Times New Roman or Garamond.)
• Your name and genre on the upper left corner of the first page
• If it is an excerpt, include a brief paragraph that contextualizes the work
After being admitted to the program and being registered for Residency I (MFA 601), but before arriving for your first residency, you will read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and one book on the theory of your particular genre (see below):
Lee Gutkind, You Can't Make This Stuff Up
Stephen King, On Writing
Jane Hirschfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry
WRITING IN THE WORLD
During the residencies, you will attend seminars on the real-life applications of writing. By your final residency, you’ll submit a Writing in the World Action Plan in which you describe how you will use your writing talents to contribute to your community, either in a professional capacity or through community outreach.
Examples include running a writing workshop at a local prison or library, writing for a nonprofit, organizing a reading series or running an after-school “Teen Writers” workshop.
During your third semester of study, you will submit an essay (15-20 double-spaced pages) on a topic in your genre that critically looks on a particular craft element. Since you are required to read four to eight books a semester (that you will choose with your writing mentor at the beginning of each semester), you will have plenty of material to begin developing this paper. The best of these essays will be featured in the MFA Degree Ceremony.
Topic examples include the utility (or lack thereof) of writing groups, current publishing trends, a detailed analysis of canonical works, the use of setting, etc.
The MFA thesis is a book-length manuscript that you will write, revise, and have approved by your thesis advisor (your fourth-semester mentor). They are 150-250 pages of fiction, creative nonfiction, or graphic novel, 90-120 pages of hybrid/dual-genre writing, or 50-80 pages of poetry or flash fiction. This manuscript is the culmination of your work during the entirety of the Mile-High MFA program.
Your manuscript should be a significant and distinctly original work of art. You will incorporate a Preface (10-20 pages) in which you place the book in context of what you’ve learned over the program. In a way, the MFA thesis is not only a book-length manuscript, but also a final exam of sorts, in that faculty advisors, fellow students and program directors should be able to see evidence of your mastery of the writing instruction instilled in you for the past two years.