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Looking for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing

once upon a time...

once upon a time…

Ever since working on reworking a friend’s character history for Dungeons and Dragons in 2011 I have been working on learning how to write with what little time I have had available.

In the last year, mind I have been looking into going back to school for a Creative Writing degree. Specifically, sales I have been looking for places to where I can complete a BA online. I found one that interested me – Southern New Hampshire University. I have had my credits transferred and accepted, and had my classes picked out. Then I had to deal with the dreaded financing. I was hoping that the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program which starts in October of next year would get me there in a reasonable way, but it turns out that whatever my payment plans were for the last 10 years were not a payment plans that qualified for Loan Forgiveness so my 10 year timer will get start when I change the loans which will increase their monthly payment by almost $100. I was counting on this to have my loans paid off sooner than later to justify going back to school, but that was not to be, sadly.

Last week I met with a counselor at the UW Sauk Campus and talked with her. She said for most people who come to the campus with and existing Bachelors Degree that they look at going for a Masters Degree of some sort. She suggested a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA). I had been looking at the MFA while looking for an online degree program, but thought I should get to a BA first. It turns out that if you are accepted into a Masters Degree program in this way they will figure out which classes you need to meet the prerequisites for the degree program and then you will have to complete those before officially entering into the program. Basically, I would need to finish to the core BA courses for a Creative Writing degree. Now, unfortunately, the UW Baraboo Campus does not offer a Creative Writing Degree so that makes things much harder. I will be meeting with their Creative Writing instructor, who graduated from the prestigious Iowa University, in the next week or so to talk to her about things. I also found out that the Wisconsin GI Bill should cover at least 2 years of schooling as long as it is with a State of Wisconsin public university, so that is some good news, however, I had been checking for that specifically and I cannot find one that offers a Creative Writing degree online, although UW Madison does offer an MFA. Me sad panda. We shall see if anything comes of the next meeting.

If you are completely bored and are interested to read some of my subjectively better writings then here are a few examples that might be palatable for you:

I am a guest on Episode 8 of the Storium Arc Podcast!!

I am a member of the Storium Arc podcast team for the Storium game (@FreeXenon), read although I only help a little in the background mostly, generic but I had the wonderful chance to be a guest on the show last week as we were recording Episode 8, ascariasis in which we discuss character creation. I am in a game or two with one of the hosts named Justin (@Twisted_Gnome) and he thought that my view point as a player might be interesting for people to hear.

Now, this was my first time on podcast and I was really nervous about it. I spent time beforehand to write up a script that would cover the parts that I thought I knew I was going to have to speak on, but it never quite came out that way. I never ever looked at what I had written down, although it was fresh’ish in my mind. I felt like a hot, hot mess, so, as a method of some level of redemption, or at least to make myself feel better, I am posting my script here to translate my borderline incoherence below, also keep in mind I have posted links to everything  mentioned here at the bottom of this post.

My Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Jim O’Neill and I go by Free Xenon on Storium,  and just about everywhere else on the web. That is Xenon with an ‘X’.

I have been playing role playing games for about 25 years starting with Dungeons and Dragons First Edition and then Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth editions. I have also played Alternity, a smidge of Rifts, Shadowrun, Marvel, GRUPS, Vampire, and then a bit of Star Wars, which is what my gaming group is playing now.

As far a writing is concerned, Role Playing Games were my primary gateway drug, and then blogging was a close second. In the years I have been playing RPGs there have been many, many character histories and narratives written, however in the last 5 or so years they have been getting more complex and larger, much to my DM’s chagrin.

My journey into writing really began after I was helping one of our players who was a high school student and son of one of the other players. I was working with him on his character history, since we were intertwining our histories. At one point he came to me with his character history and I was inspired by it so I rewrote it for him. It turned out to be 10k words long and I finished it in 3 days, so about 3.3k words per day. I was completely shocked when I saw that I had written 10k words. I began to ask myself if I could write a book and this was really the beginning to my serious look into writing. I have also participated in National Novel Writing Month 2 years ago (2013) with a Sci-Fi A-Team sort of thing. You can read my posts on this experience under the posts with the NaNoWriMo tag. I am currently, more off than on, attempting to work on a fantasy series.

I have also been blogging or had a website for about 15 years, so I have had a lot of experience just writing my thoughts out on the web covering mostly religion and politics.

I am current playing in 7 games, but all of them have hit that wall, where everything has slowed down a lot. Maybe one post per week or two. I generally prefer sci-fi and fantasy games.

So, yea, that is me in a nutshell, more nut than shell, that is. =)

Character Creation Process

  1. The Hunt
    • Hunt through the Browse Games Listing or, on occasion, I will look at the Looking for Players thread, until I find one that piques my interest
  2. Cardic Inspiration
    • Once I find one that I like I will click through to the character creation cards and see what they are about and see if there is something there that inspires me. If I do find some inspiration then I start will look at the cards more closely and start to assemble a potential character, personality, and history in my mind.
    • Here I also tend to spend some time reading the current characters too, to see where I can fit in or fill a hole.
    • Once I am done experiencing and selecting the cards and I have a character percolating in my mind, it is time to get serious.
  3. Character Creation Preparation in MS One Note
    • Now, if any of you out there have not used MS OneNote and you play RPGs or are a writer please go to download it, NOW. No, seriously stop, what you are doing right now, pause this seriously kickass  podcast, and go to download it. We’ll wait. tick tick tick tick
    • Ok, once I have OneNote open I create a copy my game template pages which contains (link below):
      • a page to copy the game description, a character submission template
      • character profile page
      • a section for writing my posts
      • as well as providing a space to record any research I need to do about the world. This space was especially important for a Mass Effect and Start Wars game I was in.
  4. Character Submission Template
    • In One Note I open the Character Submission template which is the page that I will post to the game’s character page,  and then I fill that out. (link below)
    • This has info like: my post times and time zone at the top; and then the character’s: name, gender, race, faction, height, weight, etc
    • Once I have that filled out then I will work on writing the character history
    • At some point during this process sometimes during the Cardic Inspiriation of the Character Submission Template phase I start to look for images for my character, and for me, frankly, this is the hardest part of character creation – trying to find the image to reflects that character and the cards I have in my mind. I have honestly scrapped a few too many characters due to not being able to find the right images to go along with the character and cards in my mind, which is really, really annoying.
    • Once the history and the rest of the template is done’ish and I have adjusted my cards as needed I will finally submit the character
  5. Character Profile
    • Once the Submission Template is done I go on to the last major step which is to fill out the Character Profile (link below). Now, I have posted my Character Profile to a Storium forum thread under the Player Advice Forum. This Character Profile is something I have put together from trying to put together a Character Profile for characters found in the fantasy series I am attempting to work on, but this is modified a bit just for Storium characters.
  6. Revisit the Character History and Cards
    • Once the Character Profile is done I will generally revisit the published Character History and the Cards to make any changes or corrections as needed based on revelations that the process of putting together the character profile has revealed.

Links

Images for Cards: at some point during this process sometimes during the Cardic Inspiriation of the Character Submission Template phase I start to look for images for my character, and for me, frankly, this is the hardest part of character creation – trying to find the image to reflects that character and the cards I have in my mind. I have honestly scrapped a character due ot not being able to find the right images to go along with the character and cards in my mind which is really, really annoying.