Today is April 1st and it also marks the beginning of National Poetry Month! Personally, I’m a huge fan of National Poetry Month because it allows me to focus on one area of writing for one month out of the year. I don’t usually write or read a ton of poetry so National Poetry Month serves as a nice reminder, a way for me to reconnect with poetry and look at literature through a new lens.
Some time ago, I began planning what I would do for National Poetry Month, and after several months of preparing, the plans finally crystallized into what I am now dubbing the DIY MFA Master Class project.
The idea behind DIY MFA Master Classes is simple: each month, I will dedicate one week to focusing exclusively on one genre or type of writing. Since I myself am not as familiar with some genres as I am with others, I have decided to bring in experts to share their insight during Master Class weeks. This way, you can learn directly from the “masters” of the craft: writers or teachers who have dedicated themselves to the specific genre at hand.
As for the topics of each Master Class: sometimes the genre will be determined by events going on that month (like this April, we will focus on poetry and in May I’ll be collaborating with StoryADay.org to bring you a fresh look at short fiction). Other times, we’ll take a seasonal approach (I’m thinking Romance in February and Horror/Thrillers in October). My hope is to represent every major area of writing over the course of one year.
As I learned from the surveys you filled out last week, DIY MFA writers are a diverse bunch. I don’t think there was a single genre or category that didn’t get at least a few writers expressing interest in it. At the same time, I think there’s a lot that writers can learn from studying work outside their chosen area. For instance, poetry can teach prose writers a lot about choosing exactly the right words and being precise with their language. Fantasy and science fiction can teach writers of any genre how to build more realistic settings and mysteries are among the best books for learning about plot and story structure.
While on an ordinary week, I post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for Master Class weeks I’ll have posts every day, plus bonus downloads, guest posts and even videos. A typical Master Class Week will look like this:
Monday – Guest Post by an expert in that genre.
Tuesday – Post on craft by yours truly.
Wednesday – Interview with a different expert.
Thursday - Suggested reading list for that genre.
Friday – Prompt so you can apply techniques from that genre to your own writing.
To kick off the Master Class series and because National Poetry Month is awesome, I’ve decided to dedicate two weeks to this month’s master class with one week focusing on poems and the other on novels written in verse. The series starts on April 9th so stay tuned!