Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Top 20 MFA Programs in Creative Writing

There is not a federally sanctioned accredited body to actually rank creative writing programs in terms of an MFA program, especially in creative writing.

This ranking is based, in part, upon the reviews of published authors who have read books by authors from these universities coupled with the results of avid readers of fiction who were impressed to the extent that they surrendered rankings based on their readings. We then followed up by contacting those authors to arrive at the schools to which they attended and/or earned an MFA in creative writing.

We took into account that many world renown authors do not have an MFA, therefore, we asked them "Which school would you attend toward earning an MFA if you were just starting out?"
Rankings are strongly dependent on the success of the MFA students toward publishing and gaining national recognition for their novels. Again, many famous authors do not hold a degree in the arts. That's one reason their evaluations of schools is necessary.

We credit the following resources for their contributions: Poets & Writers Magazine, gradschools.com, acclaimed novelist and The Atlantic Magazine.

We dissected a preponderance of information to arrive at this list. Here they are in the order of their rankings.

(1)The University of Iowa - Iowa City
(2)The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
(3)The University of Virginia - Charlottesville
(4)The University of Houston - Houston
(5)Boston University - Boston
(6)The University of Massachusetts - Amherst
(7)John Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD
(8)New York University - New York City
(9)The University of Texas - Austin
(10)The University of Wisconsin - Madison
(11)Cornell University - Ithaca, New York
(12)Brown University - Providence, RI
(13)Columbia University - New York, NY

(14)Indiana University - Bloomington
(15)Syracuse University - Syracuse, NY
(16)The University of Georgia - Athens
(17)The University of California - Irvine
(18)The University of Oregon - Eugene
(19)The University of North Carolina - Greensboro
(20)The University of Utah - Salt Lake City, Utah

Most Memorable Single Line in Opening Chapters

There are many strong lines in opening chapters. The thriller and horror genre, by nature requires shocking openings, however, there are some writers who simply have the knack for grasping the readers attention right away, without compromising style or flow of the story. The writers listed below are among them.

I dare say this is an exclusive list, but it is the best based on the books I've read to date. There is much yet to read. I will update this list to the best of my ability and rank in order as I discover more. If I have missed your book, forgive me, and please make suggestions as I will read it.

These rankings are obviously based upon my judgment, however, for whatever it is worth. I write and read thrillers, religiously.

Here's a line within the opening chapter of The Listener by Shira Nayman. It moves me for reasons I will not explain because I want you to discover it for yourself, otherwise, it's like attempting to explain the meaning of a particular painting, subject to interpretation.

The doctor is visiting an asylum where she treats patients. Patients are on the grounds working with hoes and rakes. I think it's clever that the author, Mrs. Nayman did not mention the doctor's name, but kept us in the story. Here it is:

...perhaps the smell of fresh dirt really is a primal palliative that makes a mockery of our talking cure.

The author followed up with tremendously suspenseful dialog. Check it out at amazon.com

Creative Writing: How to unlock your imagination, develop your writing skills - and get published