MFA Notes – Form and Function

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form and function in non fictionQuick notes: form and function in non-fiction

Recently, I graduated from Lesley University with an MFA in creative writing, and I decided that I wanted to share what I learned in a series of blog posts.

I decided to share for two reasons:

1) My notes, although not too detailed, could possibly  help other writers.

2) Rewriting my notes forces me to re-read and re-think everything I learned, so it’s a win-win.

But before we dive in, please keep two things in mind:

1) These notes are neither complete nor perfect. The classes at Lesley were not typical lecture/note classes; the classes were filled with writing and thinking exercises and often this left no time for notes (in a good way). However, even with that, these sparse notes, I do believe, could still offer value.

2) I may, from time to time, include actual writing prompts from the classes, please bare with me, they’re first drafts and were done in the moment.

I hope you enjoy this series of notes and if you have any questions about the notes, Lesley University, or MFA’s, please feel free to contact me.

Form and Function in Non-Fiction

Non-fiction: Unnecessary factual: Make it real, but hyper-real. “But then, in the earliest hours of that morning in November, a Sunday morning, certain foreign sounds impinged on the normal nightly Holcomb noises–on the kneeing hysteria of coyotes, the dry scrape of scuttling tumbleweed, the racing, receding wail of locomotive whistles.” – In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

When writing memoir there are always two narrators – There’s you in the past that you’re writing about, and there’s the you of today, writing the story and having already been through the experiences you’re writing about.

If you commit yourself to telling a story, then commit to telling the whole story. Don’t let the tragedy be at the edges.

Form -> Follows -> Function

What is the function of this piece?

What form will help with the function?

Click here to see more MFA Notes

Recommended book for this section: The Situation and the Story, by Vivian Gornick.

Picture: Flickr/Denise Krebs

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About The Author
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony is a Massachusetts based writer and veteran of the U.S. Army. After his service in the Iraq War, he earned a BA in English Literature from Bridgewater State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. He currently spends his free time with his wife and daughter, and volunteering for veteran charities.

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