This specialist creative writing MA is designed for writers for children, teenagers and young adults who aim to complete a novel, series of picture books or shorter stories for young children. It is a practical course, taught by experienced lecturers who are all published children's writers and/or industry professionals.
The course is for writers for children of all ages, from the picture-book age through to young adult (YA). Prose fiction is likely to be the main area studied, but students will have the chance to look at writing in all forms, including poetry, picture book texts and narrative non-fiction for young people.
COURSE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT
The course supports you to create a significant body of writing, with practical plans for its place in the real world of publishing. It is based on the principle that most writers learn and benefit from working closely with their fellow writers, in a disciplined supportive setting, and with tutors who are practising and published writers in their field. Most of our students aim to complete a novel by the end of the MA.
The writing workshop is at the heart of the course. What you’ll do with tutors and your fellow writers in a workshop situation is learn to see your work through objective eyes and to think clearly about the different strategies you might adopt. You learn from each other’s mistakes and successes as well as your own. You will be urged to try things out, take risks and experiment, and reflect on and discuss the writing process. The context modules help you to see your own writing in the wider context of published children’s writing. The course encourages you to read widely and analytically.
In the first trimester’s writing workshop you’ll explore a variety of forms of writing, gaining a sense of different age ranges and styles of writing and experimenting with your own writing. The context module is Writing for Young People: Forms, Ages and Stages and it is concerned with the writer’s relationship with their audience, and will help you understand some of the issues raised by writing for young people.
In the second trimester, you'll be asked to choose your area of writing and use the workshop’s feedback and encouragement to explore it in more depth. You will bring short excerpts from your work-in-progress for discussion and feedback in the group. You may continue to experiment with different ideas for other stories.The second trimester's Context Module is Contemporary Children's Publishing, which aims to give a realistic grasp of the choices open to new writers in the field.
In the third trimester, you'll continue to write your work-in-progress, developing a manuscript as near to publishable quality as possible. The manuscript may be a novel, picture book texts, or a collection of stories or poems.
Modules are normally taught via tutor-led writing workshops, with one three-hour session each week for the eleven weeks of each taught trimester, at the Corsham Court campus. We aim to keep the writing workshops small – usually no more than eight students – so that there is sufficient time, support and attention for each person’s work.
The assessed coursework for each Writing Workshop is a folder of creative writing plus a short reflective commentary. The manuscript is 35,000-40,000 words, or the equivalent in poetry or picture book texts.
This course is taught by publishing writers and depending on timetables will include:
• Julia Green: her novels for young adults include Blue Moon, Baby Blue and Hunter’s Heart (Puffin), Breathing Underwater, Drawing with Light and Bringing the Summer (Bloomsbury)and her most recent novel for younger children is Tilly’s Moonlight Fox (Oxford University Press). • Lucy Chrisopher: prize winning author of Stolen and The Killing Woods for YA readers, and Flyaway for younger teens ( Chicken House). • Steve Voake: his novels include The Dreamwalker's Child, The Web of Fire, The Starlight Conspiracy, Blood Hunters, Fight Back and Dark Woods (Faber & Faber), plus his Daisy Dawson and Hooey Higgins series for younger readers (Walker Books).
Graduates have achieved publication deals with a range of different mainstream and smaller publishers, and many more students have secured literary agents. Other students have subsequently taught Creative Writing at university level. Some have combined their writing with subsequent careers in journalism, teaching, publishing, television etc.
More than 30 graduates of this MA have achieved publication deals since the course began in 2004, with more novels due to be published in 2016-2017. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls won the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year Award and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award in 2008. Marie-Louise Jensen and Elen Caldecott were shortlisted for the 2009 Waterstones Prize. Elen Caldecott, Clare Furniss, Gill Lewis and Jim Carrington have been long-listed for the Carnegie award. Sally Nicholls was short-listed for the Guardian children’s book prize and won the Independent Booksellers’ award in 2015 for her novel An Island of Our Own. David Hofmeyr was short-listed for the Branford Boase award 2016 for his novel Stone Rider.