Writing the Critical Essay
These guidelines will help you tackle the Critical Essay for the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults and the MFA in Writing application.
At VCFA you will build a writer’s toolbox and continuously add to it. Your toolbox consists of elements of literary techniques gleaned through studying the work of fellow authors. Much of your work within the program will involve reading books to analyze the way authors use literary devices. With this in mind, Admissions staff would like to learn about how you interpret and use what you read in order to develop your own craft.
The critical essay for your VCFA application should be an example of this type of analysis. It’s not a dissertation. Our first-semester students generally write essays that are 3-4 pages long, and this is what we would like to see in your application. The real goal of this paper is to show us how you use reading to develop your own writing.
Here are some basic pointers to help you get started:
- Provide a brief synopsis of the work(s) you will be discussing.
- Identify the literary devices the author uses.
- Discuss how they employ these devices within their work.
- Discuss how their use of these devices is effective or ineffective.
- Discuss what you might take from this work to apply to your own writing.
- Refer to examples from the actual work(s) to support your thoughts.
Have a look at the MLA style guidelines for advice on formatting. While we’re not 100% sticklers for MLA style, you may find these guidelines helpful when structuring your paper.
If you have any hesitation, concerns, or questions about this or any other part of the application, reach out to Admissions any time.