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LitKnit


Jul 24, 2006, 4:27 PM

Post #26 of 710 (8604 views)
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Re: [pongo] Writing Sample Can't Post

Hi David,

Thanks for your advice. I wasn't planning to apply in one genre and then switch. Whatever genre I go with is what I will study.

Ideally, what I'd like to do for my thesis is a book of poetry. I even have the title in mind and a whole selection of poem themes in my head. Some of the writing sample poems I already have done may end up fitting in there too.

My problem is that I won't be able to do this at all if I can't get in on the strength of the poetry I've already written. This is costing me so much money and time that I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. They all say "Send your best work..." but what if the work that is truly my best is not in the genre I most want to study?

Do you think it would be advisable (or stupid?) to write to the programs and ask them for their advice on this?

Thanks,
Laura


pongo
Buy this book!


Jul 24, 2006, 4:56 PM

Post #27 of 710 (8599 views)
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Re: [LitKnit] Writing Sample Can't Post

When I was applying to Goddard I had a question about how to apply (or even whether) and I called them. I got a call back from the head of the program, and we discussed my question, and I applied and got in (and graduated). So I'm prejudiced in favor of just asking the simple question.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Amethyst


Jul 31, 2006, 1:32 PM

Post #28 of 710 (8542 views)
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Re: [LitKnit] Writing Sample Can't Post

Personally, I don't think it is a good idea to start planning your thesis before you've even applied or been accepted anywhere. That's getting way ahead of things.

I do think it is a good idea to call the schools you want to apply to and ask as many questions as you have. When I was applying, I found the people who worked in the various program offices to be extremely helpful and more than happy to help you figure out whatever needed figuring out.

I would also say that your emphasis, when applying to schools, needs to be on your desire to do the work, and not on just getting in. Maybe that sounds counter-intuitive, but believe me--it is very true. One of the things that the schools try to get a sense of from your application is how much you want to be there, how driven you are to improve your writing. In your personal statement, you will have to address this in one way or another. If you come across as being burnt out on your genre, that sends up a giant red flag, no matter how great the writing sample may be.

So, if you want to write poetry, apply in poetry. If you don't think you have enough quality poems, then spend a few months writing more poems. Is there some reason why you have to apply right now? Since you are unsure of what genre you want to work on, you owe it to yourself and your writing career to explore. Give your self time and space--before applying-- to see if that really is the genre you want to work on.

At the MFA program where I am currently a student, there is a guy who switched genres--from fiction to poetry. When he decided to switch, he had to start from scratch and re-apply. The semesters he had already spent doing fiction did not count towards his poetry MFA. He was accepted into the poetry program, and believe me he is a killer poet. It is clear that writing poetry is what he was meant to be doing. Although I'm sure he wouldn't consider his time in the fiction program to be 'wasted' in any way, he did have to pay tuition for semesters that do not count towards his degree. So please, do give a lot of thought to what you want to do in your MFA program. You don't want to end up expending time or money that you don't have to.


Stella Jervis


Aug 13, 2006, 5:33 PM

Post #29 of 710 (8452 views)
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Writing Sample Can't Post

I have a longer story that's 25 pages double-spaced that I think is perty good. But if I send that story, it's the only thing they would read because of the page-maximum. Do you think it's better to send two or three works so they see more of range of my writing style? I know people say "send your best work," but did anyone else just send in one substantial work, or is the norm to send in more? Thanks!


pongo
Buy this book!


Aug 13, 2006, 5:56 PM

Post #30 of 710 (8451 views)
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Re: [mieleja] Writing Sample Can't Post

I sent in a chunk of the novel-in-profress when I was applying. I had a 100% success rate (I was accepted at the only place I applied).

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


writerle


Aug 13, 2006, 6:56 PM

Post #31 of 710 (8445 views)
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Re: [mieleja] Writing Sample Can't Post

I had the same experience as Pongo. I sent in a portion of my novel in progress as well. I applied to two schools, and got into both. I think it is a good idea to send your very best work. If that's a single longer piece, then send that, or a portion of it. If you feel the shorter pieces are more representative of your best work, then send a couple of those. Good luck!


zyzzyvas1


Aug 13, 2006, 9:08 PM

Post #32 of 710 (8437 views)
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Re: [mieleja] Writing Sample Can't Post

I used one 25-pg story (it was the best thing I had). I went 7 out of 12.


bastedos


Aug 20, 2006, 12:03 PM

Post #33 of 710 (8357 views)
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Re: [zyzzyvas1] Writing Sample Can't Post

My trouble is that I only have one good sample right now at around 12 pages. I have a bad problem with starting stories and never finishing them, so it is important for me to write out the first draft in full. I am a bit worried about the stories I am currently working on, because I cannot get them workshopped as I am out of school. I suppose, I will have to join some online groups.


__________



Aug 22, 2006, 5:40 PM

Post #34 of 710 (8295 views)
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Re: [bastedos] Writing Sample Can't Post

I didn't know where to put this one...

But what schools, other than Arkansas, allow you to first submit just the writing sample? It seems like such a time and money saver for everyone, only sending the application if they like your writing....


six five four three two one 0 ->


laughingman


Aug 24, 2006, 12:38 AM

Post #35 of 710 (8245 views)
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Re: [Aubrie] Writing Sample Can't Post

I have the same question Aubrie had on this thread almost a year ago. I'm in a situation in which I have two great stories but can only fit one into a twenty-five or thirty page limit school ap. I've talked to three peers and I've decided which piece I want to use, but it's only sixteen pages... leaving nine or fourteen pages of deadspace depending on the requirements of the ap. (the other good story is twenty pages.) I'm thinking about including either a two pg or a four pg "short short," but the style of each is pretty different from the style of the piece I'm sending (and they are dif from one another) and I'm afraid of sounding either a) stylistically unfocussed or b) schizophrenic. (not that any of them sound crazy.) I'm wondering, then, about 1) your thoughts on single story submissions and 2) sending out a few pieces that demonstrate some 'variety' in one's work. Thanks,

Peter


In Reply To
Alright, I've got a question as well. For a 25 page sample scenario: my short story is around 16 pages. It's def. my strongest work. I'll send that.
Do I leave it at that? OR, do I send a two page flash fiction, poetry-esque piece along with it? It's a bit more experimental and lyrical.
Perhaps this will work against me, perhaps not.
Advice?
Suggestions?
Any sanity to lend to me?



simplythat


Aug 24, 2006, 1:07 AM

Post #36 of 710 (8241 views)
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Writing Sample Can't Post

Here's a question.

Now I know that we are supposed to send our best work to programs, but has anyone ever gotten into an MFA program by sending in new, unworkshopped work?

I only ask this question because I graduated with my B.A. in CW back in 2005, and I was mainly a fiction and playwriting focus. I am planning to apply for nonfiction programs for my MFA, as I feel that it is really the area I want to work in, but my writing sample will have to consist completely of new work...I've never workshopped any of my creative nonfiction.

Is there much success rate with submitting new material in applications? I know no one can give me a specific answer, as you never really know, but does it happen much?

The whole thing is making me nervous, making me procrastinate and making me wonder if I shouldn't just apply for fiction (since I can revise work that has been workshopped) at a school that encourages cross genre work.


GDClark
George David Clark

Aug 24, 2006, 9:20 AM

Post #37 of 710 (8230 views)
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Re: [simplythat] Writing Sample Can't Post

I also graduated with a BA in creative writng in 2005, but I felt I needed another year to get my creative sample to the point where I could compete with the best young writers in the country. I wasn't switching genres but I had some of the same fears about unworkshopped poems. A former professor took a look at some of my new work but really didn't offer a great deal of feedback, so the burden of critiquing was really all mine. You've got until Dec for most of you apps, right? Try putting your sample away for awhile and come back to it with fresh eyes in a couple months. Use that time to nail down you statement of purpose, reccomendations, etc.

My best work hadn't been workshopped so I turned it in and hoped for the best. Things worked out fine, and I can't imagine I would have had the same success with the work I was doing the year before as an undergraduate. I got into my first choice school as well as other highly ranked/highly funded programs.

So the short answer is don't worry too much about your unworkshopped pieces. How much did you really get from the other undergraduates? If you have a good relationship with a former prof you should be able to send him some work and be pretty close where you'd be post-workshop anyways.

Good luck,
GDC


(This post was edited by GDClark on Aug 24, 2006, 9:30 AM)


pongo
Buy this book!


Aug 24, 2006, 1:06 PM

Post #38 of 710 (8213 views)
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Re: [simplythat] Writing Sample Can't Post


In Reply To
Here's a question.

Now I know that we are supposed to send our best work to programs, but has anyone ever gotten into an MFA program by sending in new, unworkshopped work?


Me, for one.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 24, 2006, 2:36 PM

Post #39 of 710 (8197 views)
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Re: [pongo] Writing Sample Can't Post

Moi aussi.


writerle


Aug 24, 2006, 5:27 PM

Post #40 of 710 (8178 views)
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Re: [simplythat] Writing Sample Can't Post

I was accepted into two programs (I only applied to two) on a writing sample that had never been workshopped. It was the opening of the new novel I was working on at the time and, even though it had gone through a few rewrites, it was still pretty early draft. So it can be done.


Glinda Bamboo


Sep 12, 2006, 11:45 AM

Post #41 of 710 (8090 views)
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Re: [laughingman] Writing Sample Can't Post

laughingman and Aubrie: Send the best work. That sentence has been drilled into us for a reason. Don't worry if you're a little short of their maximum page count. It's better to send less work that is good than to tack on a few 2-page stories that you know are not as strong. As Kealey or maybe someone else said, don't give them a reason to reject you.

If the school asks you to send up to 25 pages (or 50 pages, or whatever) and you only have 16 pages of strong work, I think that's fine.

In an extreme case, my guess (a guess!) is that if the school asks for a *minimum* of 30 pages, and you send in a 20-page story that rocks their socks, they might not care you didn't meet the requirement. But what if you send that 20 page story and then a 10 page stinker? Maybe they'll think twice. (Just a thought...I could be wrong and maybe there are some schools that get upset if you don't follow the directions. I just know I don't want to include any writing that I don't feel entirely confident with.)

And if you're really not falling into the school's accepted page count guideliness...it's only September. Start writing and work hard. Find either an online or community group to help critique. Do whatever it takes to submit the best work possible without resorting to adding on things that you know are not as strong just to fill space.


v1ctorya


Sep 18, 2006, 3:20 PM

Post #42 of 710 (8024 views)
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Re: [writerle] Writing Sample Can't Post

Quick Little Question Re: Writing Sample.

I noticed on some schools sites it says to include a cover page. Now, does this mean that we don't put our names on each page of our manuscript in the header/footer (as I tend to do with EVERYTHING I send out, but this is business and school life and all forms that I create for my students) so that the reading and evaluating is 'blind' - meaning they assign numbers? Or should we keep our name on every page should something become disconnected, as happens quite frequently?

thanks so much,

V1c


pongo
Buy this book!


Sep 18, 2006, 8:29 PM

Post #43 of 710 (8005 views)
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Re: [v1ctorya] Writing Sample Can't Post

Unless they ask that you not put your name in the header, put it there. A cover page is just a little neater.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


laughingman


Sep 29, 2006, 2:06 PM

Post #44 of 710 (7929 views)
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Exceding the page limit? Can't Post

Will you excede the page limit in yout apps? I'm planning to stay within the limit for most of my apps, but for schools asking for twenty pages I'm planning to send twenty-two (one 14 pages and one 8). If one of the other stories I'm working on shapes up well enough, I might consider sending it out to schools with twenty-five page limits, and could be submitting twenty-nine or thirty pages (14 and ~15 or 16).

This question isn't so much about my specific situation, though. I want to know if anyone else is planning to defy the "page max."

Anyone already in a program willing to admit they stretched the limit? If not... please share what you did submit relative to certain limits? (anyone send one great twelve page story and get accepted at a school that asked for thirty?)

thanks,

laugher


sibyline


Sep 29, 2006, 6:01 PM

Post #45 of 710 (7904 views)
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Re: [laughingman] Exceding the page limit? Can't Post

i stayed within page limits but i've figured out that less is more generally. just imagine people going through piles and piles of stories. they'll actually be much happier with you for sending 16-pages when the limit is 20, rather than sending 22 when the limit is 20. my current rule of thumb is to submit fewer pages than required, within reason. i didn't employ this strategy when i applied to programs, but it hasn't failed me for conferences and scholarships since then.


johnrguthrie


Oct 5, 2006, 2:45 PM

Post #46 of 710 (7836 views)
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Re: [pongo] Writing Sample Can't Post

Hi Everyone --

I've appreciated reading through the posts on choosing a MFA Program. There are a lot of good ones around these days.
I'm a student in the MFA program at Antioch Univesity LA (fiction/poetry).
For me, it's been a ideal program. I write every morning. (I have a webzine and publish other stuff here and there). The low residency format works well in that respect and provides flexibility when one needs it also.

Faculty: My experience with faculty has been strongly positive. For instance, I worked my first to terms with novelist Alma Luz Villenueva of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She is now one of my favorite persons in the entire known universe. I'm working with poet and novelist Frank X. Gaspar this term, a fine mentor as well as a capable writer. I enjoy interacting online and during the June and December residencies with other students also.

I also appreciate the cultural opportunities and diversity of being in the megalopopolis of Los Angeles,

If anyone needs specific information that I might be able to provide concerning Antioch's world class MFA program, you're more than welcome to get in touch.

John

PS -- I'm an atypical student in that I retired from medicine--operated a Family Medical clinic in the foothills of Appalachia. But atypical is OK at Antioch. jrg

John R. Guthrie
3424 Palermo Court
Simi Valley, CA 93063
805 579 9552
johnrguthrie@adelphia.net




.


Fear&Loathing


Oct 9, 2006, 1:14 AM

Post #47 of 710 (7770 views)
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Re: [Mikaeltb] Writing Sample Can't Post

Just a word to the wise on the writing sample. Your first three to five pages probably weigh in much more than the remaining pages (not that these are unimportant after you pass a couple hurdles).

If Iowa accepts something like 700 applications- let's say, with each writing sample having 25 pages- that's 17,500 pages a person on the admissions committee has to read. Over three weeks, that's 833 pages a day. Realistically, let's say they read three pages of each writing sample...that's 100 pages a day over three weeks. Keep in mind they have their normal personal and professional lives to lead.

My friendly advice - if you work on anything, work on your first three pages.

I could have my math wrong.


__________



Oct 9, 2006, 2:22 AM

Post #48 of 710 (7759 views)
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Fonts? Can't Post

Has anyone considered using an unobtrusive, twelve point font other than Times New Roman? I've never read a book in Times New Roman. And leading scientonomers agree, everything influences reader perception. I'd like to experiment, pre-application, with a few alternatives. Anyone know any bookish fonts? Something in an early Barthelme, perhaps?

Or do you guys think anything other than Times New Roman is going to send Mary Gaitskill running?


six five four three two one 0 ->


__________



Oct 9, 2006, 2:25 AM

Post #49 of 710 (7758 views)
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Re: [Fear&Loathing] Writing Sample Can't Post


In Reply To
if you work on anything, work on your first three pages.
______________________________________________________


Agreed. But I'm hoping readers are a little more charitable and will read the first two pages of both stories. Geoffrey Wolfe says he does that, at least.


six five four three two one 0 ->


HopperFu


Oct 9, 2006, 7:37 AM

Post #50 of 710 (7750 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Fonts? Can't Post


In Reply To
Has anyone considered using an unobtrusive, twelve point font other than Times New Roman? I've never read a book in Times New Roman. And leading scientonomers agree, everything influences reader perception. I'd like to experiment, pre-application, with a few alternatives. Anyone know any bookish fonts? Something in an early Barthelme, perhaps?

Or do you guys think anything other than Times New Roman is going to send Mary Gaitskill running?


stick with 12 pt Times New Roman. I don't know if it is really the best font or not, but it is the standard, and when you are reading through a stack of manuscripts, non-standard sticks out, and never in a good way. I'm a reader now for Epoch, and everytime anybody pulls out something using non-standard font there's a big groan.

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