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The Portable MFA in Creative Writing

4.3 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1582973500
ISBN-10: 1582973504
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The New York Writers Workshop is the only teacher-founded, teacher-run writing collective in New York City. It offers writing courses to writers of all levels on short stories, novels, non-fiction and other disciplines. The rapidly growing group also co-hosts a webzine at www.ducts.org and runs a monthly reading series.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (May 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582973504
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582973500
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Just finished THE PORTABLE MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING by NEW YORK WRITERS WORKSHOP. It impresses me as a book for the pros, not the academics. No dull jargon, no preposterous theory, just the straight dope on writing in five different forms. Since I'm primarily a poet, I spent the most time with Rita Gabis's section -- it's like Mary Oliver's POETRY HANDBOOK meets THE ARTIST'S WAY. You can't read this book without developing the habit of writing, and in the ten-to-twelve days that I've had my copy, I've seen my work improve. This book is indispensable.
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Format: Paperback
This book has it all: how to write fiction, how to write plays, how to write for magazines... It's the best single source on writing that I've found so far (and I've read almost all of them).
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Format: Paperback
I'm a graduate, or maybe I should say survivor, of what was considered a prestiguous MFA program, and I

can truthfully say that not only would The Portable MFA in Creative Writing have helped me then, but it certainly would have proved invaluable if I had decided to forego the MFA experience and write on my own in a cabin by

a lake in Ontario.

I knew Tim Tomlinson in a former lifetime and I'm happy to see that he has become a wise, helpful guide

in leading readers through the section on fiction writing in The Portable MFA. There definitely is a craft to

fiction writing, which goes along with a writer's innate ability, and Tim approaches the subject as one who

could almost be considered a friend trying to offer sincere advice from experience, experience which includes years of teaching.

Likewise, Charles Salzberg comes off as a natural born teacher in offering practical advice about the craft of magazine writing. As you read his insights, you can't help but feel that Salzberg is a three-dimensional person

and extremely dedicated teacher who wants what's best for each individual reader,

There are many good books on the craft of writing but I rank The Portable MFA certainly up within the top five.

I am not a poet or a playwright but the sections on these disciplines in The Portable MFA are also interesting and enlightening. In short, this book is a great investment for both beginning writers, as well as experienced writers with many publications to their credit. One can always learn new things and The Portable MFA refreshed my creative drive and also prompted me to see truths I knew from a new perspective well worth

many, many times more than the cost of this great book.
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Format: Paperback
I found The Portable MFA incredibly useful, not only because it provides useful tips that any writer (I myself am a fiction writer just out of college) can apply to his work but it also made me want to write and be a part of the writing world. The fiction chapter (again, that's my personal genre of interest) wove personal opinion, literary anecdote, and practical info all together so impressively.

My own favorite lesson was about flashbacks and the potential drawback in their tendency to be used for explanation, esp when writing a memoiresque piece (there's a separate chapter on personal essay and memoir but there is of course a lot of overlap) - so many writers, including myself, write to be understood, to share, to have others point and say, 'Yes,that is just how I feel,' but the danger is that we write for catharsis not for storytelling - that we write when we should simply be visiting a therapist. The flashback is a tell-tale sign that I'm sinking into the pitfall, though it does have its merits. Also, appreciated the comments about peppering description into a heavily-dialogued passage in order to ground the characters in space and time. I know some of my dialogue can drift into the abstract void otherwise.

Overall, it's a fun read and an encouraging experience - just what you'd expect from an MFA program.
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Format: Paperback
This is the kind of creative writing textbook you'll keep pulling off the shelf to remind yourself of what you should be doing and probably aren't. Writing texts don't necessarily need page after page of idealistic advice. Just get me to the craft, the exercises and cover as many topics as possible. This is reference material for a good writing collection.
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Format: Paperback
As a writer struggling with dramatic structure for years, the Portable MFA in Creative Writing gave me clear direction, exercises and hope for my writing. With the help of this book, I've returned to my novel and have moved the inciting incident from the first third of the book to the first page. My characters have purpose and each scene has a point. When I get stuck, I go back to the book and it reinvigorates my clarity. I appreciate the authors for writing an easy to read guide with an encouraging point of view. I've read many books on writing but this one addressed my particular difficulties in the most productive way.
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Format: Paperback
I've read countless books that are intended to improve creative writing, and this may be the best. What makes it different from the rest, is that it's not just theoretical. Instead, along with the theory, there are countless lessons that can be applied immediately, and on a practical level, to one's writing. While the initial foundation of imagination and taste maybe cannot be taught, craft can be, and the lessons within this book are a tremendous place to start. Even the greatest of writers learn how to write as they go along. If you don't believe me, take the time to honestly compare Oliver Twist to David Copperfield or Great Expectations. The differences are practical, and they exist sentence-to-sentence. Even Dickens had to learn how to write. This book would have helped him in his earliest stages.
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