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Rambler


Nov 17, 2006, 7:45 PM

Post #201 of 1175 (12497 views)
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help Can't Post

This is my first ever post. I am desperately looking for info on Northwestern Univ.'s MFA program in Writing for the Screen and Stage. Also, I'm applying to Warren Wilson and Queens (low res.). If anybody has any info on Northwestern's program or general tips for the writing sample, I would really appreciate it.


ptld


Nov 17, 2006, 9:22 PM

Post #202 of 1175 (12482 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Writing Sample Can't Post

I can tell you that I'm sending the same two stories to everyone, and a third story to those programs who require longer portfolios. Despite many people's good advice, I'm going with my gut and sending my favorite stories, not simply because I feel they're my best, but also because I think they complement each other and show my range. Also, I don't know many people who I trust to critique work, which is one of my big motivations for the mfa. I'm really sweating it though. I still need to finish my SoP and I have one story that needs one final rewrite.


In Reply To
Hello Writers,

I'm new to the forum and curious about everyone's writing samples. Are you finished writing/revising them yet? How many stories are you sending? Does it look as though you'll stay within the page length limits? Are you sending your favorite work, or that judged to be the best by your fellow writers? Do you trust your fellow writers? How do they really know who you are and what you're trying to do in your writing anyway? Will you be sending the same piece(s) to every school, or does mixing it up calm your nerves?

Nervously,
Ryan



renapoo


Nov 18, 2006, 2:23 AM

Post #203 of 1175 (12460 views)
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Re: [ptld] Writing Sample Can't Post

Is anybody sending just one piece for their writing sample? Kealey and others have said you should really send two, even if it exceeds the page limit, but the article in P&W advocated the "less is more" theory. It would be a load off my mind to just send one (18-19 page) story for the places that want 25 pages or less, but I'm afraid reviewers would want to know that I can write more than one good story. Thoughts?


ptld


Nov 18, 2006, 2:36 AM

Post #204 of 1175 (12455 views)
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Re: [renapoo] Writing Sample Can't Post

I can say that I feel more confident with two, for the simple reason that I would want to be judged by any one story. As it worked out, I feel one of my stories is about 16 pages and the other 8, which fits me nicely in the 24 page limit. However, even if this weren't the case, I don't feel like any one story shows enough of the things I do well to be comfortable being judged on it. Just my two cents, but this is based on my portfolio. If you have that one story which shows your talent well, go for it!


HopperFu


Nov 18, 2006, 8:20 AM

Post #205 of 1175 (12447 views)
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Re: [renapoo] Writing Sample Can't Post

I sent one piece last year to the school that I applied to that had a 25 page limit. They accepted me.
If your single story is really good, and they are worried if you can write another one, it's also possible they'll ask to see another story - it happens.


Glinda Bamboo


Nov 18, 2006, 5:50 PM

Post #206 of 1175 (12409 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] SASE postcards Can't Post

That's right, it's time for another mind-numbing Glinda Bamboo question. Poo on all these questions about "writing samples." I've got a winner for you:

What do you guys use for a return postcard? This is assuming you use one -- I know some schools specifically ask that you include an SASE postcard indicating whether or not the school has received all your applications materials. Do you just use large, unlined notecards, or do you actually get real postcards? The only blank postcard stock I could find had unprofessional little drawings and borders on them. I want plain white.

...because we all know that application readers toss the writing samples and immediately check out our postcards, right? Hmmm.


__________



Nov 18, 2006, 6:09 PM

Post #207 of 1175 (12404 views)
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Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

Hello, helpful ones... Any advice on the following?

My two best pieces--the ones I hoped to send off--just haven't come together. They're first drafts, but also my teacher-approved, best work. They'll probably get a second look, but nothing more. I'm so disappointed. I'm just trying to find out whether I should simply wait until Spring/next year to apply. I fear that if I send the improved drafts next time, readers will simply recognize the first, unchanged pages of each and chuck them. Any thoughts?


six five four three two one 0 ->


HopperFu


Nov 18, 2006, 6:11 PM

Post #208 of 1175 (12402 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] SASE postcards Can't Post

I just bought the large size blank index cards (I think they are 5 x 7) and used those. Other people have used normal postcards (think, "wish you were here")


rooblue


Nov 18, 2006, 6:41 PM

Post #209 of 1175 (12398 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

Amy,
If you really don't think these stories are good enough to get you in for this cycle, I wouldn't send them. My guess is that grad programs keep your earlier applications on file, so that if you sent the same story twice, even if it was revised substantially, it might prejudice a reader against you.


laughingman


Nov 18, 2006, 7:02 PM

Post #210 of 1175 (12393 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

Amy,

I think you should send your two teacher-approved drafts. If you think they're worth getting second looks, if you think they are capable of garnering interest and showing that you have potential as a writer, I say give them a chance to do so. What more could you ask for in an application piece?

'Saving' the work for next year doesn't sound like the best idea to me. Those two stories are not extent what you have to say as a writer. Trust yourself to have the ability in the next year to crank out drafts of five or six other stories that you like better.

That said, you still have time to work on your stories this year. Work on them patiently, and let them be the stories that they are. I have some advice I'm going to call my "when you see a bear in the woods" advice. As the big scary deadline looms, don't make any sudden moves with your stories. I made some very rash, very dramatic editing decisions in the last two weeks before I sent out my applications last year, and when I looked at my stories five months later (that's right, I didn't look at them at all until five months had passed) I was horrified by what I'd done.

Good luck,

laugher



In Reply To
Hello, helpful ones... Any advice on the following?

My two best pieces--the ones I hoped to send off--just haven't come together. They're first drafts, but also my teacher-approved, best work. They'll probably get a second look, but nothing more. I'm so disappointed. I'm just trying to find out whether I should simply wait until Spring/next year to apply. I fear that if I send the improved drafts next time, readers will simply recognize the first, unchanged pages of each and chuck them. Any thoughts?



bighark


Nov 18, 2006, 8:21 PM

Post #211 of 1175 (12381 views)
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Re: [rooblue] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

I don't see how substiantially improving a story could be bad under any circumstances.


jargreen


Nov 18, 2006, 8:57 PM

Post #212 of 1175 (12374 views)
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Writing Sample Jitters Can't Post

Hello Writers,

Thanks for your responses to my many nervous questions about writing samples. The writing sample is a complete mystery to me. The question that haunts me in my sleep is, How good does it have to be? Of course, I don't think this question can be answered without seeing a writing sample that gets a "Yes" from Iowa or Michigan or Bowling Green or Colorado State.

I'll just refuse to be bashful and ask my next question: Would anyone like to exchange writing samples by private email? I'm sure there's nothing braver than to share your writing with a complete stranger. But we are hoping that complete strangers buy our short story collections one day, right? So, if anyone would like a last-minute critique and be willing to give one in return, drop me a line!


renapoo


Nov 19, 2006, 4:46 AM

Post #213 of 1175 (12344 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post

Thank you! That's a load off my mind. Your school just happens to be one of my top choices, if not THE top choice.


In Reply To

Post: I sent one piece last year to the school that I applied to that had a 25 page limit. They accepted me.
If your single story is really good, and they are worried if you can write another one, it's also possible they'll ask to see another story - it happens.



sibyline


Nov 19, 2006, 5:59 PM

Post #214 of 1175 (12292 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

I feel like as long as you've done your best, that's really the important thing. In comparison to my cohorts here, I feel like my writing samples last year were quite unpolished, mainly because I had been writing fiction for a relatively short time and there were a lot of rules I didn't know about. One of my application stories is so flawed that in trying to revise it recently, I decided that it's unsalvageable and so I've abandoned it. But the admissions committee found something in my work that they liked despite its problems. It's quite possible that an admissions committee at a school you want to go to will find promise in work that isn't completely together yet.


kevin82


Nov 19, 2006, 6:30 PM

Post #215 of 1175 (12286 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

Does anyone know when Notre Dame's application is due? I can't find the due date on their website.


Banyon


Nov 19, 2006, 7:20 PM

Post #216 of 1175 (12277 views)
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Re: [kevin82] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

It's pretty hard to find. From the application section of the MFA page, click on the link that says "admissions" (it's about halfway down), and that takes you to a site with different bits of information. Under "Before you apply" is a link that says "application deadlines and GRE Subject Test Requiements." The deadline is February 1st. Your app fee is $35 instead of $50 if you submit before December 1st.

-Banyon


HopperFu


Nov 19, 2006, 8:34 PM

Post #217 of 1175 (12263 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post


In Reply To
Hello, helpful ones... Any advice on the following?

My two best pieces--the ones I hoped to send off--just haven't come together. They're first drafts, but also my teacher-approved, best work.


First of all, you've got between three and six weeks before deadlines at most places. Work on them. Get them as good as you can before you throw in the towel.
Second of all, I agree with what Syb says: you send in your best work. That's all you can do. Programs are not looking for genius; they are looking for the sparks of genius. Yeah, I guess it's a bonus if you come in as James Joyce (without the attitude), but most programs are simply looking for promise, for spark.
Third of all, you absolutely have to keep writing no matter what. If you submit this year and do not get in, then write a bunch more short stories, keep workshopping, try to go to summer conferences, whatever. Do you really think you only have these two good stories in you? I say submit, hope you get in, but plan as if you won't. The day after you post your applications (or two days after, if you are hungover), start working on stories for next year. The hope is that you keep growing as a writer, and the stories you write in the next year will be better than the stories you applied with anyway....


HopperFu


Nov 19, 2006, 8:36 PM

Post #218 of 1175 (12261 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

And, I forgot to add, it's so subjective anyway, that as long as you have one person saying to you, these pieces are good, then hell, send them in. Somebody else will, hopefully, have the same reaction.


__________



Nov 20, 2006, 6:08 PM

Post #219 of 1175 (12192 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

Hey guys. Thanks for all the advice. I think P&W should seriously be paying some of you by now.

I've decided to hunker down and work feverishly for the next six weeks. And to retitle my story "Serious Potential".


six five four three two one 0 ->


Fear&Loathing


Nov 21, 2006, 12:46 AM

Post #220 of 1175 (12140 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing Sample: Help Me Please!!! Can't Post

I understand the sentiment. I appreciate the comments from those who are in or have finished their MFA programs. It's like talking to people from the afterlife. You make it easier for those of us who are trying to break on through to the other side. Sorry for the Doors' cliche. It seems like Cornell has their students regularly posting here. Am I missing other program respondents? I remember Franz from Hopkins.


Glinda Bamboo


Nov 25, 2006, 5:21 PM

Post #221 of 1175 (12034 views)
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Re: Online letters of rec Can't Post

This is probably another dumb question, but that's what I'm here for. When you have someone registered to submit an online recommendation, does that mean you cannot officially submit the electronic application until that person has turned in the online rec? I was planning to submit my online apps for two of my early deadline schools this week, but I'm still waiting on one recommender.


Aubrie


Nov 25, 2006, 7:35 PM

Post #222 of 1175 (12022 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Online letters of rec Can't Post

I was wondering the exact same thing. Anyone have any idea?


Fear&Loathing


Nov 25, 2006, 8:19 PM

Post #223 of 1175 (12015 views)
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Re: [Aubrie] Online letters of rec Can't Post

I think the online application is usually only to register them. It would seem rare for a graduate admissions site to hold up an online application because of a recommendation. I could be wrong. Some sites will have an application inspector that will tell you if you can't submit after filling out their form.


HopperFu


Nov 25, 2006, 8:36 PM

Post #224 of 1175 (12340 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Online letters of rec Can't Post


In Reply To
This is probably another dumb question, but that's what I'm here for. When you have someone registered to submit an online recommendation, does that mean you cannot officially submit the electronic application until that person has turned in the online rec? I was planning to submit my online apps for two of my early deadline schools this week, but I'm still waiting on one recommender.


You can submit the electronic application before all of the recs are in - I did last year.
If you are still waitin on a recommendation at this point in the process, and you haven't already, I STRONGLY suggest you contact that recommender and remind them / check on their status in a very friendly way....
You should be able to check on the status of your recommendations online - it sometimes takes a few days to update, I think.


blueragtop


Nov 28, 2006, 1:04 AM

Post #225 of 1175 (12251 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Online letters of rec Can't Post

I took the GRE last week. How soon do I need to call ETS and tell them to send off the scores to the schools that weren't free. Are we talking tomorrow? The time is running out here and I'm trying to do a million things at once.

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