A masters degree in creative writing can open many doors in your professional life. You can become a published author, with the opportunity to pitch your work to agents and editors. On the other side of the equation, you could become a professional screenwriter, or editor working in media.
The world of creative writing is a wide, varied and exciting one, and even if you don’t choose to become a professional writer, with a masters you have the potential to experience the world of publishing first-hand.
The Specialization You Need to Pursue
As mentioned above, a masters in creative writing can be a great stepping stone for your career. You could specialise in fiction, non-fiction, or screenwriting. Within each of these areas, you could focus on one of two areas; narrative or structural. Choosing a specialization is something you should think about carefully, and bear in mind that you may need to re-qualify as a professional once you have your degree.
Narrative Vs Structural
Narrative is the story of a character, or characters, and their journey throughout a manuscript. Structural writing is the layout and organisation of a story, and involves the creation of a rich and engaging plot, as well as the use of vivid and compelling characters.
When writing a narrative, you will be tempted to create a story with a beginning, middle and end, with clear protagonists and antagonists. These are all traditional narrative elements and can be extremely effective when used judiciously. However, a story with these elements doesn’t necessarily need to be a narrative.
A good example of a non-narrative narrative is Graham Swift’s ‘The Secret Life of Words’. The story centres around two very different men named Gabriel and Benjamin Button, and follows their intertwining lives over the course of several decades. The first part of the book centres on Gabriel’s attempts to write the perfect novel, which he feels will be his ticket to happiness. Swift intersperses chapters from Gabriel’s perspective with scenes from Benjamin’s life, adding a narrative layer to the mix. As the novel progresses and Benjamin becomes more and more of a hindrance, Gabriel has to find a way to write his novel without his unreliable friend.
Benefits of a Masters in Creative Writing
Even if you don’t go on to become a professional writer, there are many benefits to pursuing a masters in creative writing.
Firstly, the learning curve for a masters in creative writing is relatively short, and you can start accruing credits from the second semester. This way, you can get your degree and be working on your novel, short story or screenplay, or publishing your work, while still in your early 20s. For those in their early 20s, this is an ideal opportunity to get ahead in the world, both personally and professionally.
Additionally, a masters in creative writing can lead you to interesting and varied careers, as demonstrated by the above. You may start your career in media, where you can work as an editor, or you could take a more conventional route and enter the world of publishing. Within either of these arenas, you could end up working on a novel, with the opportunity to pitch your work to agents and editors. If you’re a confident writer, and have the ability to prove yourself, you may decide to strike out on your own and become a publisher or an agent.
Another great option is to attend a prestigious writing program, and through your studies, get the opportunity to meet and network with some of the biggest names in the industry. This could lead to your gaining valuable experience which will prove invaluable in your future career.
When it comes to degrees, many universities have recognised the value of a masters in creative writing, and are offering up their courses. Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to gain some extra learning in a field which can lead you to exciting prospects, a masters in creative writing can be a great option.
Where Can You Study?
The choice of where to study is a difficult one, especially if you don’t yet have a clear idea of what university you may like attending. The UK’s Creative Education and Media Studies (Cem) are two of the most popular degrees in creative writing. What makes these degrees so attractive to prospective students is that they combine academic study with practical experience. You may learn the theory behind effective writing as well as the terminology, but you will also get the opportunity to practise what you have learned, and develop an understanding of how a story can be told.
Typically, you may find that many universities will require you to do a literature course before you can start your degree. From here, you may choose to specialise in either literary theory or creative writing. What is great about this is that you get the opportunity to study a broad range of topics while still being able to apply what you learn in practice.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of a masters in creative writing can vary quite significantly from university to university. Typically, you may find that many universities will charge you £9,000-£13,000 per year for your studies. As mentioned above, a CEM degree is a popular choice amongst students, as it combines a diverse range of subjects with a flexible curriculum. On the other side of the pond, a similar degree, the MFA, is widely considered to be the most prestigious and cost-effective degree for creative writing. One of the main advantages of an MFA is that you don’t necessarily need to do your degree in English, as you can study creative writing in lots of different languages. This may help you in your quest to become a published author, with many opportunities in exotic locations.
What are your thoughts on a masters in creative writing? Is it something you would consider, or have seen others consider beneficial?