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JKicker
Jonathan

Dec 13, 2006, 10:30 AM

Post #76 of 709 (8183 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post

I'll join the crowd of obsessives- any consensus on whether or not to include the two manuscripts together as one 25 page document or to seperate with paperclips into two documents?


HopperFu


Dec 13, 2006, 11:26 AM

Post #77 of 709 (8173 views)
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Re: [JKicker] Writing Sample Can't Post

Okay, again, not that it really matters, but this is what I did:
I numbered them sequentially (story one was pages 1-19, story two was pages 20-37), and then paper clipped each story individually and then used a larger paperclip (or maybe a small binder clip, I can't remember) to attache them together as a single document.


HopperFu


Dec 13, 2006, 11:27 AM

Post #78 of 709 (8172 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post

By the way, if it makes anybody feel any better, I spent about twenty minutes staring at the paperclip choices at OfficeMax last year, trying to figure out which paperclips gave me a better chance of getting in....


laughingman


Dec 13, 2006, 11:40 AM

Post #79 of 709 (8168 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post

Which ones did you decide on? =)


HopperFu


Dec 13, 2006, 12:12 PM

Post #80 of 709 (8160 views)
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Re: [laughingman] Writing Sample Can't Post

Actually, instead of using paperclips, I encased my writing sample in twelve cubic yards of concrete. I wanted to make sure they noticed it.


JKicker
Jonathan

Dec 13, 2006, 12:30 PM

Post #81 of 709 (8156 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post


In Reply To
Actually, instead of using paperclips, I encased my writing sample in twelve cubic yards of concrete. I wanted to make sure they noticed it.

hahahaha, you're the man hopper. All I have to say about this process is "ugh". This forum is just an invitation for me to worry-gasm all over the place, its hard to resist asking even more annoying questions but I will attempt to refrain... until Cornell is out the door anyway.

cheers


v1ctorya


Dec 13, 2006, 1:28 PM

Post #82 of 709 (8137 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post

I printed mine on fruit roll-ups, thought it made it original, and I encouraged everyone to 'ingest my words' to get the full appreciation.

They were bound together with licorice whips.

Off course, I'm a diabetic so went for irony.


BuckeyeBrooder


Dec 17, 2006, 7:12 PM

Post #83 of 709 (8067 views)
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Re: [v1ctorya] Writing Sample Can't Post

I'm submitting two stories to every school I'm applying to. How should I number the pages of my sample? 1-20; 1-20? or 1-40?


sibyline


Dec 17, 2006, 7:40 PM

Post #84 of 709 (8058 views)
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Re: [BuckeyeBrooder] Writing Sample Can't Post

i just numbered mine separately when i applied, though i know hopperfu did a table of contents and numbered his sequentially. i think both approaches are fine unless the school has specific instructions.


jargreen


Dec 18, 2006, 12:34 AM

Post #85 of 709 (8019 views)
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Applying in stages Can't Post

Howdy,

Those of you who have been there, done that wth this application process, I'm wondering something. These schools surely won't mind (if they haven't specifically requested otherwise) if our various application materials come at different times, will they? For instance, my profs sent in their rec letters last week, about the same time that my GRE scores should have arrived. But I'm taking advantage of mid-January and early February deadlines and continuing to work on my writing sample. If my writing arrives nearly two months later than the other materials, surely that won't reflect negatively on me. And surely there won't be a big mix-up in their offices.

Best,
Ryan


renapoo


Dec 18, 2006, 12:45 AM

Post #86 of 709 (8014 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Applying in stages Can't Post

I think they generally like to have your actual application (online or wherever) submitted first, along with the fee, so that the paperwork is there and you have an application number assigned to you and whatnot. But that's totally not what I did, I sent in my GREs and transcripts first, then did the online app and then sent in my writing samples and letters of rec. I think (hope) they're used to dealing with things out of order and it's not such a big deal. I figure the most important thing is paying the fee and sending the writing sample, so I send the w.s. in with delivery confirmation so I'm sure it got there.


HopperFu


Dec 18, 2006, 8:44 AM

Post #87 of 709 (7994 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Applying in stages Can't Post


In Reply To
...if our various application materials come at different times,...


Don't worry about it. As soon as they get anything - anything - with your name on it, they make a file and put all future materials in. They're used to it. I think I sent my GRE scores in like two months before the rest of my stuff last year. Most places don't look at applications until the deadline has passed, and the ones that do look early will wait until your application is complete.


BlueVelveeta


Dec 19, 2006, 7:59 PM

Post #88 of 709 (7882 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing Sample Can't Post


In Reply To

Though, again, none of these things will affect whether or not you get in....
Still, it's more fun than obsessing about if your writing sample is good enough.

Seriously. When I dropped my last application off at the post office, I was relieved, elated. For 5 seconds. And then came the obsessive wondering about whether or not my handwriting on the stamped postcard I included looked too childish, whether my choice of stamp would please the admissions committee, if the fact that I live all the way out here in California would work against me.

Perhaps a percentage of our application fees should be refunded in the form of tranquilizers.


cboisseau


Jan 7, 2007, 7:46 PM

Post #89 of 709 (7754 views)
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Re: [johnrguthrie] Writing Sample Can't Post

Hi John. Thanks for the offer of being a resource. I'm getting ready to apply to low-residency MFA programs. I also am a nontraditional student, I suppose. I am 45, a journalist who has been working in corporate communications for five years. With daughter recently having graduated with her bachelor's degree, I'm ready to break out and do more writing that I want to do for the next phase of my career.

Two questions: Do you know any of the nonfiction faculty at Antioch, and if so can you share your impressons?

Secondly, I've never submitted a manuscript before, and I'm needing a few pointer on the formatting. I can't seem to find it on this forum.

I have half a dozen stories. Do I put a title on each page? Where do I put my name? Page number(s)? Spacing? Font and point size (Times New Roman and 12 point I gather, but I may be incorrect.)

Thanks for any guidance you can provide.
Charles Boisseau
crboisseau@yahoo.com


hamholio


Jan 8, 2007, 5:43 PM

Post #90 of 709 (7670 views)
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Re: [cboisseau] Writing Sample Can't Post

Charles,

I can only help with your second query. Twelve point Times New Roman (or a similar serif font) is a safe standard, although, it's up to you. Double spacing is encouraged, and perhaps an understood given, unless the dept. web page states otherwise.

I only put my name and page number on each of the pages. I think sending only 2-3 stories is suggested, but if your six stories are short or "flash fiction" or something of the like, you'll probably want to send them so that you can approach the page recommendations (usually 20-30 pages, dbl spaced.)

I paper-clipped my two stories individually and sent them all off. If your stories are meant to be read in a specific order, I might specify that with a contents page, or sequential numbering throughout (I numbered mine individually.)

Hope that helps.


cboisseau


Jan 8, 2007, 6:01 PM

Post #91 of 709 (7662 views)
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Re: [hamholio] Writing Sample Can't Post

Thank you! Yes, that does help. One less thing to concern myself with. Trying to get these writing samples together in the next week or two.

Charles


Glinda Bamboo


Jan 26, 2007, 3:21 PM

Post #92 of 709 (7558 views)
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Re: Writing Sample Can't Post

So I know I promised myself and everyone here that I would not look at my writing sample once I submitted all my apps, but I recently had to glance through it (for non-MFA reasons) and ugh! I may have made the wrong choices. Not that I think the stories I submitted are horrible, but I have some serious concerns that a few of my others better represent my talent and style. I know there's no point in obsessing, but right now I feel really down that I might have wasted 10 MFA applications on lesser stories.

We will see what happens. I can't do anything about it now, anyway.


piratelizzy


Jan 26, 2007, 4:08 PM

Post #93 of 709 (7533 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Writing Sample Can't Post

Glinda,

I've alternated between feeling confident that "of course" these (my submissions) are good and "Oh, gods above, what have I done?" since submitting my first application back in November.

Part of the problem is that I feel like I may not be the best judge of my own work, much as I'd defend it to the last. There is also the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what I'm up against, i.e., whatifminearegoodbuteveryoneelsesareGREAT? Too--and this may not apply to others on the board, though I'd be curious to know if anyone else feels they fall into this category--my stories are quirky and offbeat, and I am afraid that they won't be considered "universal" enough to garner much of a readership or be publishable.

It's all part and parcel of this application process, I think. At the very least it should provide good practice for the next round, should we need to apply again.


'sup?!

(This post was edited by piratelizzy on Jan 26, 2007, 4:12 PM)


hamholio


Jan 26, 2007, 4:44 PM

Post #94 of 709 (7503 views)
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Re: [piratelizzy] Writing Sample Can't Post

Oh, I would love to know the quality of work that has been accepted before to get a better idea of what I'm going up against -- I'm sure we all would. Whenever I see someone that applied or was accepted has a blog/livejournal, I definitely scope it out, not out of malice or a desire to feel better than them, but so I know whether or not I might have a place at the table. Oftentimes I feel on par with what I see and am glad that other people with such strong interests in literature are also applying; occassionally I feel inferior, out of my league with someone that works harder and writes better or, inversely, superior due to the banality or voiceless nature of the blog.

It's hard to tell based on that, since blogs are mostly first-draft writing and rarely fiction. Perhaps after I get accepted or rejected to all of my schools I'll post some of my portfolio -- or maybe that's foolish! I'll think about it.


(This post was edited by hamholio on Feb 5, 2007, 9:25 AM)


piratelizzy


Jan 26, 2007, 5:03 PM

Post #95 of 709 (7489 views)
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Re: [hamholio] Writing Sample Can't Post

 
Yeah, checking out other people's writing is kind of like scratching an itch. Instant relief ;-) I try not to give in too often, though. But like you say, it's more out of curiosity about whether my own writing even measures up. Groovy graphics on your page. The planet Mars makes an appearance in one of the stories I submitted with my applications.


'sup?!


jargreen


Jan 26, 2007, 6:12 PM

Post #96 of 709 (7457 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Writing Sample Can't Post

Hey Glinda and Others,

I know this is going to sound like an Oprah-ish answer ... but I think that we'll be all right so long as our story(ies) somehow capture what it is we're wanting to do, and capable of doing, with our fiction. If you showed them the essence of who you are as a writer, then you should feel confident that you gave it your best shot.

It seemed that most of the stories I wrote prior to Dec. '06 were fairly well-received by classmates and professors, and I suspect they may have shown some promise (to somebody under the influence), but I thought I was capable of something more - after all, most of those stories were scrapped together the night before they were due in class. So I wrote a brand new story based upon some ideas that had been incubating in my head for a couple months and submitted it to all my schools (it was 35 pages, so it exceeded most page limits). The schools that wanted two stories got "Lake Winnebago" and one of those older ones. I suppose that I could have really screwed myself, because what happens if my plot is not well-developed, what if there are some inconsistencies in characterization, what if there were a bnuch of typoes in taht frist drfat? But I have no doubt that this story represents what I want to show these schools, so I've had a peace of mind on the matter since mailing it to that first school.

I'm curious: Did anybody else do such a crazy thing as write a last-minute story?

Best,
Ryan


LateApplicant


Jan 26, 2007, 7:44 PM

Post #97 of 709 (7434 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Writing Sample Can't Post

Well, not a last-minute story, but a last-week story. As a general rule, I think doing this kind of thing is not very smart (especially if one is, like me, a slow writer, who needs to shelve the piece for a month or so before taking a second look and spotting thousands of things to rewrite), but in your case it seems you did the right thing, provided you're certain that that is the kind of writing you want to pursue. I like what you did. And I like the epiphanic way in which you came to that realization (God am I ruining Joyce's little trick-word. But writing programs have already ruined it anyways, right?). In my case, about a week before deadlines I happened to write a short short that showed a different kind of writing from that of my portfolio, but it wasn't such a radical breakthrough. It just showed a broader range -- and yes, I do like the story, too. A couple of friends gave it a read and provided feedback, but I'm afraid I didn't have enough time and distance from the story to polish it as it should be. So, in my case, it might be a double-edged sword. But we'll see...


piratelizzy


Jan 27, 2007, 7:27 PM

Post #98 of 709 (7344 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Writing Sample Can't Post

Sure did. I'd been sending out the same two stories and then one day I wrote something in one sitting and sent it off to two schools along with the first two stories. Of course I proofread it. And I am someone whose productivity seems to come in waves--I won't work for two or three weeks and then suddenly sit down and pound two stories out in a few days. Then I like to leave them a few weeks and revise when I have more distance .

So even though I really felt good about that third story, I had not had enough time to revise it and make it shine. I am afraid that it went off too unpolished to do me any good and just hope it won't hurt my chances too much.

Then again, there is so much uncertainty with this application process. Oftentimes I felt like I just needed to go with my gut feeling, and mostly I've done just that.


'sup?!

(This post was edited by piratelizzy on Jan 27, 2007, 8:06 PM)


Glinda Bamboo


Feb 2, 2007, 8:40 AM

Post #99 of 709 (7220 views)
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Re: [piratelizzy] Writing Sample Can't Post

Last night my writing group critiqued one of the stories I did not send to MFA programs. When I pulled it out two weeks ago, I realized it was stronger than I'd thought...possibly stronger than what I sent. And I think my critique group just confirmed that. Man, I have never been so unhappy to get positive feedback before. I'm kicking myself for not sending this story. I totally had room in the page count to include it....darn.

Oh well. Maybe I can use this story next year if I don't get in anywhere this time around.

(FYI, this might be a hint to go with your gut. I planned on including this story for months, but then I workshopped it in two other groups and started to have doubts. Now I see that, with revisions, it certainly is one of my strongest pieces, just as I originally suspected. Stupid me with my stupid judgment and second-guessing.)


LateApplicant


Feb 2, 2007, 12:15 PM

Post #100 of 709 (7164 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Writing Sample Can't Post

Hi Glinda,

Yeah, second-guessing oneself is silly. But then -- and I say the following with respect and sympathy, because I tend to do the same -- stop doing it! "If I'd sent this story instead of that one..." That's all part of the same silly, unproductive game. And the funny thing is that this MFA appl. process is such a crapshoot that sending (what you now think is) your best story probably wouldn't have made much of a difference. That is, maybe some comm. member would have loved it, and others wouldn't have. And, instead, maybe the latter will go crazy for the stories you actually sent. You never know what they will like at the moment they have the page in front of them. (There's an article here at P and W by an actual comm. member that is quite revealing of how much of a crapshoot the process is even on their side!). Also, remember that you said that now, after revision, the story looks like your strongest piece. So maybe now it is indeed your stronger piece. But, without these revisions, maybe the story would have done you a disservice.

A clarification: I'm not saying that the process is such a crapshoot that anything can get you in, and anything can leave you out. No. You have to be a minimally good writer and have potential in order to be admitted. But after you pass that threshold, it all becomes incredibly subjective even for the people making these choices. So there's no way to predict what they will like.

And, to end on a funny note that shows how much I sympathize, let me say I did go back and forth when I had to choose my pieces, too. I drove my friends crazy, and ended up sending different stories to different places, depending on what my mood dictated at the different moments -- usually, I'd wait till the very last day to see whether I'd have some sort of revelation. The only revelation I had was that I wasted tons on money on overnight shipping.

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