Otis MFA Writing Program

Why Otis?

Mission: In the Otis College MFA Writing Program, we prepare students to become professional writers by providing a systematic framework, personalized support, practical tools, and a stimulating atmosphere.

Refine Your Craft in a Structured, Supportive Environment

Many people attempt to write a book, yet few succeed in completing, let alone publishing their work.

Why?

First, you need discipline. Without a clear deadline and routine in place, it’s easy to let your writing fall to the wayside. 

At Otis, we provide you with the foundational practices needed to become a professional writer. That means producing and sharing your work with others on a consistent basis.

By the end of the program, you’ll have a complete portfolio under your belt: either a novel or a short story/poetry collection. 

Second, you need a supportive environment. At Otis, you will be surrounded by like-minded people who will not derail you from your goals but will encourage you to keep pushing forward.

Immerse Yourself in the Written Word

The fastest way to improve your skills is to fully immerse yourself in the world of reading and writing. As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” 

At Otis, you will read a novel a week, absorbing a variety of genres and styles which will spur your growth as a writer. But this isn’t passive reading, nor are our seminars your typical literary analysis workshops where you untangle symbolism and themes. 

Instead, we actively evaluate the writer’s decisions. How is the novel constructed? Why did the writer choose to end this scene in this particular way? 

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As a writer, it’s essential to get detailed comments and editing suggestions on your drafts. 

The small size of our writing workshops ensures that your writing will receive the attention it deserves from both professors and fellow classmates. Our instructors are dedicated to helping you prepare your stories and poems for publication. 

Learn From Professors With a Proven Track Record

All of your instructors are successful published authors from a wide array of genres. 

Program Chair Peter Gadol’s literary suspense novel The Stranger Game, which tells of a social media experiment gone too far, has been optioned as a TV series for FX. His novel The Long Rain, about a man who attempts to cover up an accidental murder while pulling his life back together, was a 1998 finalist for the PEN Best Fiction award.

Marisa Matarazzo’s magical realist short story collection, Drenched: Stories of Love and Other Deliriums, received the following praise from Publisher’s Weekly: “Each scene is rendered so poetically, in a strange combination of tenderness and aggression, that it is difficult to turn away.” Her work has appeared in multiple literary journals including Faultline, Hobart, Fivechapters, and Unstuck.

Rachel Harper is a prolific poet, short story writer, screenwriter, and novelist who has been published in a number of acclaimed literary journals including Carolina Quarterly, Chicago Review, and African American Review. Her novel Brass Ankle Blues was a Borders Original Voices Award finalist, while This Side of Providence, which tells of a Puerto Rican immigrant’s struggles with poverty and addiction, received the followed praise from Alice Walker: “Not one line is wasted and every single word rings true.”

Prepare for Life After Graduation

Otis equips you not only for a writing career but also for careers in the teaching and publishing fields. Working for Otis Books, the college’s own in-house press, you’ll gain valuable hands-on experience in the publishing industry in a variety of skills such as designing layouts, proofing manuscripts, and creating bids. As a teaching assistant, you’ll work alongside a seasoned professor who will guide you in creating lesson plans and leading classes. 

Enjoy Personalized Treatment in a Big City Atmosphere

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, just minutes from LAX, Otis merges the excitement of a big city with the caring, welcoming ambiance of a small town where everyone knows your name. With an average class size of eight students, the professors treat you like family. Your classmates will become lifelong friends and valuable connections. 

When it comes to the competitive nature of the publishing industry, an extensive network is vital. 

Stimulate Your Senses and Get Inspired

Good writing engages all of the senses. Because Otis is home to one of the nation’s finest art schools, you’ll be in a stimulating environment, surrounded by fantastic paintings and sculptures which will guide the eye and spark the imagination. 

Our Visiting Writers Series will further invigorate you and open you up to possibilities. Get inspired by such luminaries in the industry as Deb Olin Unferth, author of the short story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance and the graphic novel I, Parrot, Nina Revoyr, author of Los Angeles Times bestseller and 2003 Book of the Year Southland, and Xuan Juliana Wang, whose short fiction has appeared in Ploughshares and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Ready to make the leap? Click here to apply.

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