Why Word Count Matters

By Kat Kerr

Let’s play Two Truths and a Lie. Which one of these following statements is the lie:

  1. A book should only be as long or short as it needs to be.
  2. One should keep writing, until it’s done.
  3. Length doesn’t matter as long as the story is good.

What’s the answer? All of them; and at the same time, none of them. One should  keep writing until your book is done, and then go back and edit, edit, edit, edit. A book should only be as long or short as it needs to be, however if it’s too long or too short, it’s a red flag that there are problems. And no, length doesn’t matter as long as the story is exceptional, not just good, and exception is determined by market and how well established the author is in the publishing community. For the rest, there are industry standards pertaining to book length. And the one truth you can count on is that word count matters.

I know; it’s infuriating. You’re an artist. You create. You want agents to at least read your book, see its brilliance, and then it’ll be obvious how word count doesn’t apply to you. As creative beings, we relish our freedom and are repulsed by anything which seeks to limit us.

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As an industry professional, I’m here to tell you that we too, love your creativity. We love your art. We love your work so much, we want you to be able to live off it. To buy groceries with it. To pay your bills with the money you’ve earned from selling it. We want you to have your best chance out there on the market because we believe in you and we believe in your work.

Why do agents and editors care about word count so much? What is the big deal about whether or not your book is too long or too short?

From a crafting perspective, too short of word count is indicative that a book may lack proper development. While this may seem like a pre-judgment, and the initial knee-jerk reaction may be to want someone to read your work and decide based on its merit, industry professionals who have waded through those slush piles, reading submission after submission of great pitches with low word counts just to find that low word count almost always results in great ideas that weren’t properly executed. Common problems are lack of well-developed secondary characters, lack of sub-plots that help maintain character motivation throughout the book, lack of appropriately developed conflict arcs, and rushing story development to hit major plot points but not to develop all the transitional moments in between.

Also, too long of books can be indicative that an author doesn’t know how to self-edit. Common problems are the presence of too many sub-plots that lose the focus of the story, narrative thought vomit, overly detailed descriptions for non-pertinent plot devices or characters, and (in the case of literary works) an author who is a little too in love with their own prose. It’s really important to make sure you are thinking about your manuscript critically and to not be afraid of making changes, because changes are going to happen. Several rounds of them, in fact.

Aside from craft, there’s also the business side to consider. In traditional publishing, 71088429_scaled_251x167the publishing house is investing in your work. That means they are taking ALL the risk in the event your book doesn’t sell well. They pay for the editors, the cover artists, the production costs, the marketing, not to mention your advance; an advance that you get to keep, even if your book doesn’t sell a single copy. That’s a lot at stake for a publishing house.

That’s why there’s so much research done on book sales and on what readers roughly expect when buying a book and on what market predictions look like for future trends based on what readers ask for in stores and libraries as well as a million other things publishing houses will research to help them get the best return on their investment.

So, what are the rules? How long should a book be? What’s a good sweet spot? Well, generally speaking for adult fiction:

Below 70,000                      too low, (except certain types of genre fiction)

70,000 – 80,000                  decent

80,000 -100,000                  good

100,000 -120,000                a bit long, but still okay depending on genre

120,000 +                             too long

YA has, over the years, actually gotten longer to where it now competes pretty well with the adult market. While YA books are still written for teen readers (as they should be), they can still safely fall anywhere from 55,000 – 100,000 words, depending on sub-genre.

MG and children’s picture books are going to vary depending on target reader age range.

These are very general guidelines and word counts will still vary depending on the genre of fiction you write. For instance, thrillers, mysteries, and suspense will probably fall a little shorter due to their fast-paced, page-turning nature, while science fiction, fantasies, historical, and literary works will run higher due to world building, language, and prose.

“But what about….

  • JK Rowling
  • George RR Martin
  • All these classics that are like a million words long that were published before the 1950s?”

keep-calm-and-write-onAh, yes. The exceptions. Remember what I said earlier about how publishing houses are the ones taking all the risk? Classic literature will always have a market of buyers. There is no risk in reprints of classical literature. They’ve already proven their market base as consistent.

And while JK Rowling most certainly had some pretty thick books come out, her first book clocked in to around 76,000 words and the length of her books grew as their popularity grew. George RR Martin’s books may have started out at epic lengths, but also keep in mind that George RR Martin also had several books published with Simon and Schuster and S&S imprints before selling Game of Thrones to Bantam. And guess what? His first published novel, Dying of the Light—much smaller book.

Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time on your manuscript and want it to be successful. You want to see it on shelves at bookstores and libraries, available on amazon, reaching new heights with five star reviews, and affecting readers everywhere. The best way to achieve that dream is by knowing the industry well enough to get your foot through that industry door. Don’t give the agent or editor reading your query an easy reason to pass due to astronomical or too miniscule word length. After all, you have to know the rules in order to break the rules.

 

Kat is a literary assistant with Holloway Literary. Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter @thekatsmews.

Eight Rookie Mistakes to Watch for in Your Writing

 

By Kortney Price

A few months ago I was digging through the boxes of my old stuff at my parents’ house looking for goodness knows what and happened upon the flash drive containing all of my high school writing endeavors. I was so excited to plug in the flash drive and start reading. But man, am I happy high school me refused to let anyone read her stories!

It seems I was a huge fan of what I can only assume was supposed to be “witty” dialogue, using Word’s built in thesaurus, and starting every story with the main character waking up. Every. Single. One.

As an editor, I wanted to delete every single story immediately. Or maybe set the flash drive on fire, run it over with a car, and figure out a way to weigh it down and drop it in the middle of the Atlantic. But as I read through and saw all of these mistakes, I was actually happy to be seeing them. It means I’ve grown, right?

So, if you’re just starting out or if you’re looking for ways to polish your writing before sending it off to beta readers, agents, or editors here are eight ways to avoid making rookie mistakes in your writing.

  1. Simplify

When you’re writing, chose the word people know. Simplifying your vocabulary is a fantastic way to keep readers engaged in the story. Using words that have readers reaching for the dictionary will pull the reader from the world you’re trying to create.

Using the biggest word possible at all opportunities will also give your writing a pretentious vibe. If you’re dying to bust out the seven syllable words, maybe pick one or two and make them a character trait. Maybe you have a know-it-all character who says facetious instead of sarcastic? Even in this case, however, use sparingly.

  1. Said is so not dead

This goes hand in hand with simplifying your writing. Dialogue tags are really supposed to blend in with your writing. When you have characters whispering, shouting, breathing, or exclaiming everywhere it will draw focus away from what is actually happening. While you don’t have to use “said” for every dialogue tag, it’s the one tag that readers will naturally skim over and so it won’t pull attention from the Untitledstory itself.

  1. Structure

Varying your sentence structure is your best bet for maintaining your writing’s flow. I feel like this aspect of writing is really something that comes with time and experience. The more books you read, the more you internalize what writing is supposed to sound like and the more your writing starts to imitate that sound. If you have a section where you’re just not sure on what’s not right, take a look at the sentence structure and see if you’re stuck in simple sentence land.

  1. Avoid the cliché

Black as night, pretty as a rose, soft as silk, etc. Avoid these. If you find yourself using these kinds of phrases try to rethink how you can word those sections. If your style is more poetic, think of new ways you can describe everyday things.

On a larger level, avoid plot clichés. Don’t make my mistake and open with your character waking up to her alarm on a typical Tuesday. You want to hook your reader from the first word so drop them in the story right where the action starts.

  1. Formatting

Another rookie mistake I made in my high school writing was in formatting. Oh my gosh did I love the italics button. I used it to set off character thoughts, to show dream sequences, and emphasize words in dialogue-all in the same story! Sometimes italics are a great formatting tool, but always aim to be able to write well enough that they aren’t actually necessary. Use the text around that emphasized word to get the reader to read the dialogue the way you intend and write the character’s thoughts in a way so they flow with the rest of the story. If you’re going to utilize italics, make sure it’s only for one specific purpose. You can set off a dream sequence, but you shouldn’t use italics for anything outside of dreams after that point.

  1. Pick a point of view

As an editor, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. While I’m just as much a sucker for the dual point of view love story as the next person, I can’t handle it when there are two points of view in the same scene or chapter. There needs to be a break between narrators so that readers can adjust. Otherwise it ends up being about as confusing as I’d imagine it would be to be able to read minds in a crowded room.

  1. Modifiershhhhhhhhhhhhh

“Adjectives absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.” – Mark Forsyth The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

Have you ever learned this rule for modifiers? Please, please avoid needing to reference the entire thing for your story. Modifiers are a wonderful part of our language, but if you can use a strong verb then ditch the adjectives and adverbs. Find all of the –ly words in your story and make sure they aren’t taking over your writing. While you’re at it, make Robin Williams happy and get rid of “very” in its entirety.

  1. Repetitive

Another edit note that I harp on pretty consistently is repetitiveness. This can be as specific as sentences or as broad as major concepts. On a sentence level this can be a really difficult habit to break, but once you see it you’ll notice it easily. An example would be, “He was so angry. He slammed the door” really only needs to be “He slammed the door” By cutting the unnecessary words you can really clean up your writing.

On a larger level, you want to make sure you aren’t repeating facts from the story or ideas. Sometimes it’s tempting to relate everything back to a character’s traumatic past, but that gets to be repetitive. So, for example, if Joan has a horrible relationship with her mother and the reader knows this, you don’t have to explain the relationship again when Joan won’t go to the grocery store her mother frequents or when Joan immediately dislikes the motherly figure in her office.

 

So if you’re reading through your writing and finding some or all of these mistakes, no worries! No one’s perfect. If you can see the places where you slip up, you can edit them. Once you work through editing them, you’ll find that you naturally avoid them in your next work. It’s all about learning and growing and putting your story down on paper in the best way you can, and then looking back at the early stuff and laughing (sometimes out loud) at some of the silly mistakes you made then but never make now. Happy writing!

 

Kortney is an associate agent with Holloway Literary.  Learn more about her and then follow her on Twitter @kortney_price.

Tips and Tricks for a Busy Writer

By Rachel Burkot

We’re all busy, right? If you say you’re not, I don’t believe you. Everyone knows that pursuing a creative career, passion or hobby requires sacrifices. And time is the #1 sacrifice. Time with loved ones, time making money at a day job, time watching TV or sleeping or reading. Luckily, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve ignoring your children or your spouse for the sake of your novel. But it’s a scary phrase: time management. Mastering this elusive phrase may feel like finding the pot at the end of the rainbow, but it’s possible!

If you spend more time being jealous of the prolificacy of Stephen King than you do actually writing, don’t worry. You might not put out a whopper-sized book every three months like he seems to, but with some clever tricks, you can be just as productive as you’d like to be. Here are some short and simple tips for time management when it comes to juggling family and other commitments with writing, not to mention social media promotion and all those other things writers have to do other than writing. Enjoy, and happy goal-setting!

  • Figure out what time of day works best for you to be creative. Some people are early birds, some are night owls. Syncing in to this ideal time, as much as your daily schedule permits, will allow you to more productive, ultimately saving time, because everyone has a window when they’re naturally more productive, particularly where the unique brain power of creativity is required. Can you wake up two hours before your kids get up and get your writing time in then? (This’ll likely mean a sacrifice of sleep.) Can you stay up two hours after they go to bed and get to work then? (This’ll likely mean a sacrifice of TV or reading or other “veg” time.) Sticking to more or less the same schedule day after day will make it feel more like a job, and the routine will help you to stick with it.
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  • If you have young kids, work around their schedules. Unfortunately there’s really no choice in this — young children have this power over us! Two words: Nap. Time. Most kids sleep on a pretty reliable schedule, so as soon as you put your kid down for sleepy time in the middle of the day, have that laptop ready to go — whether it’s for a forty-five minute writing sesh, or a three-hour one! Use it or lose it!

 

  • Word in shorter, more focused bursts. If you need to bang out some chapters, try a method such as writing for thirty minutes, in a hyper-focused, no-interruptions kind of way. Set a timer, silence your phone (or better yet, put it in another room!) and do not allow yourself to go online. Consider even disconnecting from Wifi so it’s not even a temptation. Then take a five-minute break to go on Facebook, make a cup of coffee, flip through a magazine or make a quick phone call. Or do this in one hour/ten minute intervals. Whatever works best for you. But it’s likely more mentally rewarding than being seventy-five percent focused on writing for an entire day, while that other twenty-five percent of you constantly has one eye on an email or some other distraction. Or, if you can’t go totally off the grid in these bursts, consider a strategy where you only interrupt your writing for a different task if it can be completed in five minutes or less. If it will take longer, set a time later on to take care of it.

 

  • Set parameters for social media. Some of you love social media, some hate it. Fact of the matter is you all have to use it for promoting your books. If you enjoy it, the balance between using it for promotion and writing may come naturally. But if it doesn’t (maybe you even dread this part of being a writer), tell yourself that you will use it for 30 minutes each day for promotion. That adds up to 2 ½ hours per week. Not too shabby! Sure, it’s not as much fun as actually writing, but it’s part of the gig.

Calendar with Deadline Circled

  • Set weekly goals for your writing. If you have a contract with a publisher, they’ll provide deadlines for you. You know when you have to turn in a manuscript, so you’ll work toward that deadline. Because, well, you have to. But here’s the thing: If you’re uncontracted, working toward a deadline just as if you had a contract can really help you along mentally. Otherwise, if you continue to think of it as a hobby, or just something you’re futzing around with in spare moments, you’ll never finish. And whether you’re contracted or not, setting weekly and/or daily word count goals is an excellent way to help yourself stay on track in more digestible bursts, gives you a tangible way to measure progress, and plus it’s great mentally, as you see yourself inching closer, every day and week, to your target word count for the novel! Plus, nothing feels better than meeting a goal or crossing something off a to-do list

 

  • Finally, reward yourself! If you meet your goals, treat yourself to something! Maybe you have a small, different reward (a scoop of your favorite ice-cream flavor) each week on Friday night if you meet the goal you set on Monday morning. Maybe it’s fewer but bigger rewards (a bigger purchase, new clothes or a pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on) if you meet three different, important goals along the way toward The End.

Following a few or all of these tips can really help with mastering the art of time management in a creative field, where parameters and guidelines may not be the first thing you think of when you set out to get that book written. Now go forth and set some guidelines for yourself!

 

Rachel is an agent with Holloway Literary. Learn more about her here and then follow her on Twitter @Rachel_Burkot.

 

Exercises to Develop a Character’s Voice

By Kerstin Wolf

Developing a character’s voice can sometimes be difficult but is necessary in every novel. As mentioned in the last blog post, Do’s and Don’t’s of Believable Dialogue, every character needs to have their own distinct voice. Unless all the characters in your novel are emotionless robots that are programmed the same way, each character needs to “sound” different to the reader. Nothing is more confusing than reading a line of dialogue between three or more characters that all sound the same. Things start getting jumbled and soon enough, the reader is completely lost on who is saying what. In order to have good dialogue and strong characters, each character must have their own unique voice.

Understandably, this can be challenging. As the author, you are essentially creating life using only your imagination. The world that your novel explores is completely your own, and every character is of your own creation. Congrats, you’re a parent! Now, as a creator of this world, you need to know everything about your characters. Even the tiniest details of their past could affect their voice. Where they grew up, where they live now, what hardships they faced, their greatest fears, what motivates them, what their personality is, all of these could play a role in your characters voice. Giving each character their own voice isn’t easy, and that’s why I’ve listed a few tips or exercises you may want to try if you’re struggling.

Character Interviews

Conduct a character interview to really get inside their head… your head…your AuroreDamant_CharacterDesignInterviewcharacter’s head which happens to come from your head. You can’t create their voice if you’ve never met them, so what better way to get to know your characters than to interview them? If you want you can conduct these interviews totally inside your head, just be sure to write down your questions and how your character responds. Where’s the fun in that though? Why not become your character? Truly embody your character and behave as if you are them! Not only is it fun and you get to practice your acting skills, but it may help your character to become more real to you. Now, if acting isn’t your thing, but you don’t want to just interview your character in your head, try a combination of the two. Imagine your character and what they’re doing in your head, but respond aloud in their voice. This is my favorite method to further develop my characters and strengthen their voices. Do my next door neighbors probably think I have a few screws loose? Yes. But I don’t care so long it helps improve my writing!

Change the Environment

If your characters’ voices still aren’t coming very easily to you, try the old switch up method! Completely change their environment and see what happens. Is the world that they live in an icy tundra? Try dropping them in the desert. Write a short side story where they are all suddenly transported somewhere totally different. How do they react? This is generally my cure-all method. Changing the environment or situation is great way to get to know your characters better which always helps with creating their voices.

Become Your Character

Thoughtful writerPerhaps try being your character for an hour. Now, this doesn’t mean do anything dangerous or harmful in anyway. Maybe your character loves knitting. Learn how to knit or scroll through knitting patterns online and react like your character would. Does you character despise knitting hats but loves socks? What would your character say if they came across a zebra hat pattern? Have fun with it! Be creative and relax. A little bit of practice, and your character will have their own voice before you know it!

Kerstin is an intern with Holloway Literary. Follow her on Twitter @Kerstin_Wolf.

Contemporary Romance Author Natalie Charles Discusses Finding Your Voice In Fiction

By Natalie Charles

Agents and editors often say they’re looking for a fresh voice. Author, Natalie Charles discusses what this really means on Writer’s Digest. Read the full article here.

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Natalie Charles is the author of three romantic suspense novels and four contemporary romance novels. Her latest book, Seeking Mr. Wrong, is available now. To learn more about Natalie check out her website and follow her on Twitter @Tallie_Charles.

 

Do’s and Don’t’s of Believable Dialogue

By Kelsey Schnieders

Writing natural dialogue can often be one of the most difficult parts of writing a story.  Writers are drawn to lyrical language, unique words, and unusual sentence structure.  While these elements can create lovely description, unfortunately, they are not the most effective tools to create believable dialogue.

When done properly, dialogue can give insight into who your characters are, develop relationships between characters, and breathe life into your manuscript.
The following are some do’s and don’t’s for creating believable, realistic, and effective dialogue.

Do:

  1. Give each character a distinct voice.

In the real world, everyone talks RM_05.15_ff_riskdialoguejust a little bit differently.  Some people are prone to being wordier than others, some are prone to using slang, some are prone to having “catch phrase” words they use often.  Including elements that individual characters are likely to use differently will help not only the dialogue in your manuscript, but also the characterization.

  1. Mimic ways in which people actually talk.

Conversations between people are often not straightforward.  People are prone to changing the subject, not directly answering questions, or maybe even not paying attention at all.  If dialogue between your characters feels stiff and unnatural, try making one character more focused on something else than on the topic at hand.

When speaking, people often engage in cross talk, which occurs when one person asks a question that the second person doesn’t quite answer, maybe even changing the subject, and the conversation continues thusly, with each person not exactly responding to the other.  Conversations like this can work effectively at some points in a narrative, as it’s an effective tool to show topics characters are sensitive about discussing.  Much characterization can be revealed in the ways in which people talk about, or don’t talk about, something.

  1. Give your characters something to do.

When your characters are conversing in a scene, make sure that they have something to do, even if it’s as simple as washing dishes or tying a shoe.  Breaking up lines of dialogue with periodic interjections of action will help your characters avoid the dreaded “talking heads syndrome” and ground the dialogue in scene.

Don’t:

  1. Overuse dialogue tags.

Overusing dialogue tags, particularly when they make use of strong verbs like retorted, bellowed, grumbled, shouted, etc., may be done with the intention of offering more detail, but may actually take the reader out of the scene.  Words Education Conceptlike these tear the reader’s attention from the dialogue itself.  The tone in which a character is speaking should be effectively portrayed through the dialogue itself and shouldn’t rely on the crutch of a descriptive word.  If you feel that one is still necessary, perhaps re-examine your dialogue and see if rewriting the line could better express the tone with which it is being said.

  1. Overuse slang.

While slang can be used sparingly to provide a valuable insight into who a character is and how they talk, constantly overusing it—or placing it in every line in which a character speaks—can be frustrating and take a reader out of the story.

  1. Use dialogue to convey a large amount of information.

Conversations are typically quick, back-and-forth banter, so long paragraphs of information often read as unnatural.  Lines of dialogue should be kept somewhat brief in order preserve a sense of realism in the conversation as a whole.  If long blocks of information, such as backstory or significant plot points, are necessary, they are best conveyed outside of dialogue.

Dialogue may seem like a simple element—and at its best, it is simple—but the effects it has on characterization and suspense can be huge. Dialogue that mimics real speech can work with other elements in your story to develop authentic, full-of-life characters.

By following the above do’s and don’t’s of writing believable dialogue, you’re well on your way to crafting believable dialogue and enriching your characters.

 

Kelsey is a literary assistant with Holloway Literary. Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter @KelseyLefever.

 

 

A Creative Writing MFA Is Not For Everyone

By Michael Caligaris

I’m certain every serious writer, regardless of age or day job, has at one time or another contemplated getting their Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Why wouldn’t you? It’s so alluring to the serious writer: a 2-3 year commitment to producing work while up against hard deadlines, tough critics, and countless reading assignments. I myself received an MFA in 2014 from St. Mary’s College of California, located in the Bay Area. Now an agent, I can’t deny that my time as a student certainly helped hone and shape my literary taste, style, and knowledge. It not only furthered my career through invaluable teaching and writing experience but also instilled a deeper appreciation for the literary scene and business.

With that said, I can also attest to the fact that the MFA is not for everybody. There are just as many concerning factors to take into consideration before applying or even thinking about applying. My hope here is to provide some insight that can hopefully aid those dedicated writers wondering if the MFA is the next road they should travel down.

 

MONEY

mfaFirst and foremost, writers, especially struggling writers, are not necessarily wealthy people. We work odd jobs, freelance, or plug away at an office desk while surreptitiously revising our novel—ready to pull up that Excel sheet whenever the boss makes the next round around the cubicle. Ah, the life of an artist. And it is perhaps because of this lifestyle that one must truly consider the financial aspect of the MFA.

Full-time tuition ranges between $21,000 and $35,000. You should expect to swallow at least a portion of that amount of money per year through FAFSA or private loans, even if you are granted the coveted scholarship—you cannot forget living expenses, which should be factored around $10,000.

Getting a “full-ride” is not necessarily a goal or hope any future MFA candidate should have. Only a handful of programs—those being the most prestigious, such as The Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Cornell, Michigan, NYU—offer this sort of funding flat-out. And if you are granted such a generous scholarship, expect to teach as being part of a fellowship.

With that said, this is loan money we are talking here—which is really Monopoly money—and you should never let a price tag discourage you from attaining your dream career.

 

WORKSHOP
Majority of serious writers out there are in some sort of workshop or writing circle or have a BETA reader on hand. These are usually acquaintances that share a passion or members of a local bookstore group or your Aunt Sally who reads your manuscript in the bathtub. What’s so great about getting your MFA is that you now have access to THE ULTIMATE WORKSHOP.

Not all graduate programs are alike. This means that not all workshops are alike. There are of course horror stories out there—workshops that range from drunken buffoonery to sadist blood baths. I can only really speak to my own workshop at St. Mary’s and then again at The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Both were extremely pleasant, albeit tough to please, which is the best combination in my opinion. Constructive criticism is hard to come by, and the MFA facilitates this.a423a5550

Additionally, many programs invite visiting writers to teach workshop for 1 semester. This allows you to work with well established or maybe even FAMOUS contemporary authors on a first name basis. Pretty cool.

Buyer Beware: the thin-skinned will not have a pleasant time whatsoever in an MFA workshop.

 

EXPERIENCE

Terrified of reading your work in public? Great, me too. But I did this during my years as an MFA candidate many times over. It allowed me to grow as a writer. Having to stand in front of a crowd of strangers and read your personal art aloud not only forces you to truly revise and consider your work at a micro-sentence level, it trains you to believe—I mean truly believe—in your authorial voice and your talent.

Additionally, most programs offer unique internships. For example, I know numerous colleagues that taught writing to inmates at that infamous San Quinton prison for class credit. Depending on where you live, you can also work for literary magazines, get involved in writer salons, and even host your own literary events. If you have the itch to fully submerse yourself into the literary scene, then an MFA provides that opportunity.

 

TIME

Time is never on our side. Life is a whirlwind. I get it. Maybe sacrificing 2-3 years of your life in order to better what you see as a hobby is not financially or professionally responsible. These are real things to consider.

College Student Studying in Library
However, I know plenty of writers who went through the MFA program and today are no longer writers. This is because time, or lack thereof, does not stop for you to write. Think of the process of obtaining an MFA as “stopping time” in a way. Like any other graduate program, the student must put other less-significant priorities on hold while in school. And I can’t see a better excuse for why you have to leave a party or quit a job or relieve yourself of your duties at the church bake sale than: “Sorry, I have to go and write. It’s for school.”

 

Michael, who has a Creative Writing MFA from St. Mary’s College is an agent with Holloway Literary.  Learn more about him here and then follow him on Twitter @mikecali31.