Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MA Creative Writing student longlisted for £5000 prize in Mslexia novel contest

One of our current cohort has been longlisted for the Mslexia 2011 Women's Novel Competition. Catherine Simpson is in the running for a first prize of £5000. The shortlist will be announced in early 2012.

The competition was open to unpublished female novelists writing fiction in any genre for adults or young adults. The judging panel is novelist Sarah Waters, literary agent Clare Alexander and broadcaster Jenni Murray.

Getting longlisted is another success for Catherine. Her short story Mercy Boo Coo was among the winners of Family Legends, a competition run by BBC Radio Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust earlier this year.

The story was published in an anthology called Family Legends. Catherine read Mercy Boo Coo aloud and was interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland's Culture Cafe in May. You can read her winning entry here.

The Process: applying to our course

The MA Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University prides itself on innovation, taking a fresh approach to the teaching of creative writing. That extends to the way we examine applicants to our course.

Demands for places is high, with far more people turned away than accepted. We take a maximum of 24 students each year, to ensure the best quality student experience. As a result, there's no annual cut-off date for applications - once we're full, we're full.

Our process starts with the application form. We look for evidence that would-be students are already actively pursuing a career in creative writing. How? They could be taking short courses in writing, or studying via the Open University programme.

Publication history also counts in an applicant's favour. Past and present students have included published authors looking to change direction, established non-fiction authors, and writers with several short stories publications to their credit.

Most students have a degree, but it isn't essential - nor does it have to be in English. Psychology, history and medieval literature are among degrees held by past or present students. We recognise a range of qualifications.

Perhaps the most crucial element of the application form is your personal statement. It's our first chance to assess your ability to write, and a chance to demonstrate your passion for our course. We recommend researching what we do before you apply!

If your application seems promising, we invite you to submit a sample of your creative writing. However, we don't just accept any old thing. Why not? Because you could have been polishing your portfolio piece for years.

Instead we set a specific challenge. We provide a choice of opening sentences, and invite you to write a 1000-word short story in the style of your choice. We give you two weeks for this challenge, even give you a choice of delivery deadlines.

We've just received the first fruits from this new method and the results are promising. This process enables us to assess like with like, rather than comparing journalism with chapters from novels or extracts from plays.

The process replicates the writing challenges students face on our course. If you can't write a 1000-word short story in two weeks, you'll never survive on our course [let alone life as a professional writer].

If your story impresses us, you'll be through the final stage: a tough interview done face-to-face [or by telephone for international applicants]. We tell you the result within 24 hours, so you can start planning.

That's our process, that's how we pick our student cohort. It's an exacting method but - we believe - the best way to find writers who'll thrive on our course. Interested? Click one of the links top right!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apply now for 2012 MA Creative Writing intake

It's only week 6 for our new cohort of MA Creative Writing students, and we're already getting applications for the September 2012 intake! It seems word about the new, innovative nature of our course is spreading. We've designed a new brochure to tell the world about what we're doing, as you can see from the images scattered through this blog posting.

Our course keeps a strict cap on numbers so we can maintain the highest standard of teaching and mentoring. Student experience is paramount for us. As proof of that, we turn away 3-5 applicants for every student we accept. So who makes it on the course? Talented, committed writers who are willing to make sacrifices to achieve their goasl.

The new class is only our third intake, but we've already attracted students from the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Italy, Finland and across the UK. The good news for full-time Scottish students is we're the only creative writing MA north of the border to offer any funded places [although those places are strictly limited].

Our course is unique in many ways. We don't believe in workshops or peer review as a teaching tool. Instead we offer professional editorial feedback, delivered in a masterclass style. This is supported with at least ten hours of one-to-one mentoring support, and voluminous written feedback is given on formally assessed student work.

Poetry is not an option on our course. Instead we focus on popular genres [crime, horror, science fiction, fantasy, creative non-fiction], commercial storytelling media [graphic novels, screenwriting] and experimental fiction. We train writers for a career, not how to fill in grant application forms.

Sound like we might be the course for you? Then click the full-time or part-time links at the top, right-hand side of this page. Join us!

[BarBelle picture © Steven Cook, used by kind permission]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Star Wars promo for MA course

This Star Wars style promo was created as a fun way of promoting the MA Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University. May the course be with you - always! [Apologies to anyone reading this on an iPad or iPhone, but we can't get this video to work on your devices - yet!]

Former MA students form Illicit Ink

Illicit Ink is another innovation that's grown out of the MA Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University. It runs themed prose reading nights at Cabaret Voltaire's Speakeasy venue on the Cowgate in central Edinburgh. The Illicit Ink team work with and support authors ahead of events, encouraging fun and risk-taking in both stories and performances. Bizarre experiements and collaborations are welcome.

Having sprung from the Edinburgh Napier MA, the team at Illicit Ink have a soft spot for supporting writing students from any programme. Recent events include horror-themed Monsters Ink in October, and a murder mystery evening  in July. Next up is Time Will Tell on Sunday December 4th. If you want to read with Illicit Ink, click here. Read more about Illicit Ink by clicking the blogroll link at right.

Graphic Scotland - championing innovative comics, grassroots writers and artists

Graphic Scotland is an exciting new venture being developed by a graduating student from Edinburgh Napier's Creative Writing MA [with plenty of help from others]. Ariadne Cass-Maran was inspired to set up Graphic Scotland after taking our course module on writing for graphic fiction. [This post-graduate module is believed to be unique to Edinburgh Napier's course, and is taught by ex-2000AD editor David Bishop.]

Graphic Scotland aims to promote the best of Scottish graphic fiction by showcasing grassroots writers and artists. Another of its core aims is broadening appreciation of this exciting narrative medium to a wider, more diverse audience. The days when comics only meant superheroes or The Beano are long gone! To help you keep an eye on Graphic Scotland, we've added it to our blogroll on the right.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Robert Shearman joins as Writer-in-Residence

The man who brought Doctor Who’s most famous foe back to the small screen is the new writer-in-residence on the MA Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University.

Robert Shearman, who memorably reintroduced the Daleks to the BAFTA-winning 2005 series of Doctor Who, will take up his post in September 2011. The multi-award winning fantasy writer will provide advice to students on the University’s groundbreaking MA in Creative Writing course as part of the role, which was previously held by Scottish novelist James Robertson.

His ‘Dalek’ episode for the hit BBC sci-fi show – which gave the intergalactic despots the power of flight – was nominated for a Hugo Award, while he has also made award-winning contributions to the Doctor Who audio range. Shearman has successfully worked as a writer for television, radio and the stage, and was formerly the resident writer at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. His third collection, Everyone’s Just So So Special, was launched in August 2011, and he will be working on his debut novel while in post at the University.

The London-based writer, who will spend an average of two days a week at the University, has published two acclaimed collections of short stories, Tiny Deaths (2007), winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, and Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (2009), winner of the British Fantasy Award.

Edinburgh Napier’s MA in Creative Writing course embraces science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime writing and was the first in the UK to offer a specialist module in writing for graphic fiction. It also eschews traditional workshop-based teaching for one-to-one mentoring and has piloted a unique reader-in-residence post.

Mr Shearman said: “One of the hardest parts about writing is the isolation. The sense of 'so what?' that creeps over you every time you stare, alone, at a blank computer screen. What the students at Edinburgh Napier are offered is a sense of community, an answer to that 'so whattery’. 

"I'm just as plagued by that as anyone else, and whilst my post as resident writer will mean I can encourage fellow writers, I can't wait in turn to be encouraged by them, to find a new context to my prose and scriptwriting, and to bounce off their enthusiasm. I feel enormously honoured to be attached to such a wonderful course.”

Programme Leader Sam Kelly said: “We’re incredibly excited to have Rob joining us as writer-in-residence. We’re firm fans of his work, and his love of genre fiction, enthusiasm for experiments and professional success across a whole range of narrative forms make him the perfect match for our unique course. With the influence of his boundless creative energy, this is definitely going to be a memorable year for us and our students.”

The writer-in-residence post at Edinburgh Napier was created in 2010 after funding from The Binks Trust and is a 12-month appointment.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

'A radical departure' - The Times

If you want to make a career in writing, Edinburgh Napier University's Creative Writing MA is the course for you. 

You already have the talent and ideas - we will add the knowledge you need to approach your chosen market with confidence, originality and skill. Our aim is to ensure our graduates are equipped not only to succeed, but to change the culture they choose to enter.

Teaching doesn't involve traditional workshops. Poetry is not an option.

Instead we take an innovative approach to the training and support of aspiring writers, driven by published expertise, practical experience, intellectual energy and tailored individual support. We love commercial genre fiction and literary experiments equally.

Modules focus on three key areas: narrative technique, vocational skills and cultural context. The learning experience stems from expert lectures, in-class writing challenges, group work and tutor feedback. Added to all that is our acclaimed mentoring programme.

We offer every students a minimum of ten hours one-to-one mentoring and supervision, outside of coursework and assessments. Mentoring is designed to challenge, encourage and provide the guidance most relevant to each student's goals and aspirations.

To find out more, click any of the links at the side of this blog.