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WanderingTree


Oct 9, 2009, 12:06 PM

Post #526 of 710 (9378 views)
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Re: [OldScribe2000] Length of writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

Adverbs are the devil. And like the devil, they often look good at first but usually end up doing more harm than good.


forsythe12


Oct 20, 2009, 3:24 PM

Post #527 of 710 (9231 views)
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Re: [pongo] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

Until reading this I too was planning on submitting the same samples. But here's the thing: I was accepted with them! A few years back, I applied to a few programs and got accepted to 2. But couldn't attend at the time. Now I'm submitting again and I figured--well, if they got me in before, I should use the same ones. Granted, I am revising them slightly, to make them (hopefully) even stronger. But reading the "why would you show them your writing has not progressed" line makes me pause.

Should I go with the same ones, or will this show--if somehow they remember my writing (after reading hundreds of samples over the years) that my writing hasn't progressed? Hmmmm...


WanderingTree


Oct 21, 2009, 12:54 PM

Post #528 of 710 (9165 views)
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Re: [forsythe12] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

I STRONGLY advise you to send new, polished work. If you've been writing at all between the last time you applied and now, there's a good chance that you probably don't consider your previous portfolio amongst your strongest work. Another reason you want to send current work is that you want to show the programs what you are doing/capable of NOW (not years ago) and what directions you are going in/leaning towards. If you send old work and are interested in completely different kinds of writing, you might be setting yourself up for a rude awakening when you meet the rest of your cohort. If you haven't been writing and don't have anything else, I'd suggest waiting a year and using that year to write before applying.

And remember, just because you were accepted with your old portfolio doesn't mean you'll get accepted with them this time around. People have been rejected and gotten in with the same work and vice versa. MFA applications are a gamble no matter what. The only thing you can control is sending your best writing (which is almost never old writing). Also, there will likely be completely different readers on the committees with their own biases and aesthetics.

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Oct 21, 2009, 1:02 PM)


BLUECHEESE


Oct 21, 2009, 1:54 PM

Post #529 of 710 (9143 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

I have to agree. Unless you feel your style hasn't changed much (I mean, suppose you're working full time and apply because need the time to write). And if you haven't been writing, well, get on it. You will be a lot less likely to get into a program you'll be happy at if your writing sample isn't reflective of what you are interested in now.


Woon


Oct 21, 2009, 6:55 PM

Post #530 of 710 (9113 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

I echo the above sentiments. I was going to send my two previous writing samples (b/c of my busy schedule) but at the last minute, wrote two new short stories this past summer. Not only were they much better than anything I had written before, but they were also stylistically different.


forsythe12


Oct 22, 2009, 8:15 PM

Post #531 of 710 (8992 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, trust me--I know too well that getting in with these pieces before doesn't mean I'll get in this time. But with the great unknown of every piece of writing, there's something comforting in submitting a piece that has been accepted somewhere sometime before. That is, any other thing I submit, I have no sense of whether it's "MFA quality" for any of these programs. But with these pieces, I know that--at least to two programs a few years back--they were considered good enough.

I do have other pieces, but most of them are just as old. I did a lot more writing back then--when I submitted the first time. But I've spent the past few years raising a family while working more than full-time, and while also being a part-time grad student. Sure, I wrote my share of academic papers during that time. But the fiction has mostly been on hold. And I don't feel my writing interests have changed much during that time that I was not writing. So it would really be the choice of a several-year-old polished piece that has been accepted (sending in a newly revised form) or sending a several-year-old polished piece that has never been accepted (sending in a newly revised form).

So, perhaps I should re-ask the question. Instead of "Should I send old work that's been accepted or send new work?" the question is: send in old they liked or send in old they haven't seen yet?


eprime


Oct 24, 2009, 12:31 PM

Post #532 of 710 (8847 views)
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Re: [forsythe12] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a question regarding the length of my writing sample. I know this has been addressed here as well as other forums i've been to. But i feel my question might be slightly unique. The general consensus seems to be: if a school tells you to submit approximately 30 pages then 25-35 should be ok. I have come across a school (i forget which one, perhaps it is more than one) that says they will accept 25 pages of fiction. Explicitly they state (paraphrase): any page thereafter will be discarded. I have two pieces I am submitting to all of my selected mfa programs. one piece is ten pages and the other around 17. Do you guys think this school is serious about discarding the last two pages of my work? or is it more of a scare tactic just to ensure that most people stay around 25 pages? i find it disheartening and unsettling that they would actually just throw out two pages. do i really need to trim the fat, ie cut two pages. a line here and a line there...? any opinions would be appreciated. thnx.


pongo
Buy this book!

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Oct 24, 2009, 12:45 PM

Post #533 of 710 (8843 views)
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Re: [eprime] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

I would take them at their word, and rather than cut two pages that the story can't afford to lose, send either one piece, or two other pieces that come to 25 pages or less.

One of the requirements for entry to some schools is a knowledge of how to follow simple instructions.


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/


WanderingTree


Oct 24, 2009, 2:09 PM

Post #534 of 710 (8819 views)
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Re: [pongo] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

The vast majority of schools are going to be flexible on pages/word count and this will be reflected on their application instructions. Phrases like "if you think"/"up to"/"send your strongest work"/"minimum"/"maximum" are easy to look over, sometimes open for interpretation and among those words that tend to be flat out ignored by applicants.

But whenever I've called a program that very clearly stated that they don't want to see any more (or any less), I think you can take them up on their word. A 25 page limit is pretty low and realistically it would be a challenge to fit in two stories of avg. length. It's not how much you send but what you send. Personally, I'd go with one story that comes close to the limit.


BLUECHEESE


Oct 24, 2009, 4:28 PM

Post #535 of 710 (8795 views)
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Re: [eprime] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

You could always play with font/formatting slightly (don't be obviously obnoxious like you're trying to pull something over, but some fonts take up less space and so on). You might be able to take a page off that way.


__________



Oct 24, 2009, 5:17 PM

Post #536 of 710 (8783 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

----------------------------------
!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING !!!!!!!!!!!!
----------------------------
------

DON'T PLAY WITH THE FONT!


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Oct 24, 2009, 5:19 PM)


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 24, 2009, 5:50 PM

Post #537 of 710 (8772 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you can play with the font as far as switching from, say, Bookman Old Style (very readable and loose) to Times Roman (less readable, but much tighter), as long as you keep it readable and keep it 12 point. Don't even consider going to 11 point -- it will be noticeable and not appreciated.


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/


eprime


Oct 24, 2009, 6:08 PM

Post #538 of 710 (8767 views)
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Re: [pongo] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

f***.
My Microsoft 2007 has been set on Calibri (sp?) font 11 since i've had it. which of course means 17 pgs might turn into 18 or more. but i've been using this for all my classes and no one has commented (and of course they probably dont care). whatever, it was only one school i think. i'll go find out which one it was. i think it might have been UC San Diego. bottom of my list. yet: i might flippantly toss them a "whatever," bottom of the list schools probably seem a bit more important come end of march.


eprime


Oct 24, 2009, 6:15 PM

Post #539 of 710 (8763 views)
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Re: [eprime] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

ok, it's not UC san diego.


WanderingTree


Oct 24, 2009, 6:22 PM

Post #540 of 710 (8758 views)
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Re: [pongo] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

You can also play with the margins quite a bit without it being noticeable. International applicants might have some breathing room due to A4 paper. What also makes a big difference is really minimizing the space you take up in your header and footer.


eprime


Oct 24, 2009, 6:31 PM

Post #541 of 710 (8752 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

or rid my paper of a few egomaniacal footnotes. yes. yes. yes. which i've been advised against (by most, not all).


BLUECHEESE


Oct 24, 2009, 7:48 PM

Post #542 of 710 (8733 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Submitting same writing samples [In reply to] Can't Post

yeah, I wasn't saying really mess with in any serious way... just switch to something standard but more compact like times new roman... and make sure your borders are set to 1"... the default in MS word is 1.25 nowadays.


taraberyl



Nov 3, 2009, 12:35 AM

Post #543 of 710 (8479 views)
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writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

there ARE dumb questions, and here's mine.
a major character in my writing sample, who is often referred to by his last name alone, shares a surname with a major character in a major novel by a faculty member at my dream school. if it were a first name i probably wouldn't give it a second thought, but it seems unusual for them to have the same last name.
i guess i am wondering if i should change it just in case, just temporarily for this application. it feels weird b/c i am so used to this character's name but it would be easy and possibly worth it in case the committee thinks i either (1) didn't read this major book by this faculty member and so didn't know or (2), heaven forbid, that i for some reason did it on purpose.
do you guys think i should change it to be safe? or have i officially gone off the deep end?


bighark


Nov 3, 2009, 1:04 AM

Post #544 of 710 (8473 views)
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Re: [taraberyl] writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

If all the story shares with the novel is the surname of a character, I'd say you have nothing to worry about.


__________



Nov 3, 2009, 1:09 AM

Post #545 of 710 (8473 views)
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Re: [taraberyl] writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

Thoughts:

Does Big Academic Writer own this name?

What is the name? Is it a common name?

Name, name, name...

Whatever your cut and paste dilemma, it can't be as bad as Peter Sarsgaard's in 2005's The Dying Gaul.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 3, 2009, 1:09 AM)


onemike


Nov 3, 2009, 1:15 AM

Post #546 of 710 (8470 views)
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Re: writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey folks,

Just putting the word out that I'm offering manuscript consulting this Fall/Winter via my website, www.mikeagrestafreelance.com. I'd be psyched to help out with some MFA applications.

I'm a recent Michener Fiction MFA working freelance as I put a book together. My contact info is on my site if you're interested. I have a package rate for $225, or I could work hourly.

www.mikeagrestafreelance.com/academic_editing.html


Good luck!

MA


StellaBella


Nov 17, 2009, 9:56 AM

Post #547 of 710 (8223 views)
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Re: [onemike] writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey all,

Just wondering if anyone out there is applying in creative nonfiction and if so, if you'd like to share what kind of writing sample you're going to submit. I'll be submitting several essays but I'm not sure if I should definitely choose work that represents what I say I'd like to work on in my personal statement, or if I can branch out from that...

Also, can't seem to find a way to post a new topic here! I can only seem to reply. Am I that technologically inept?

Thanks!


StellaBella


Nov 17, 2009, 3:34 PM

Post #548 of 710 (8187 views)
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Re: [StellaBella] writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

And one more question while I'm at it - should I go with double spacing on all of the samples, even though only one school specifies that?

Thanks all!


bighark


Nov 17, 2009, 3:50 PM

Post #549 of 710 (8182 views)
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Re: [StellaBella] writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes!

Always use standard manuscript format for fiction submission. Double space, sensible font (Times Roman, Courier, etc.), 1-inch or 1.25-inch (the Microsoft Word default) margins.


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Nov 17, 2009, 4:47 PM

Post #550 of 710 (8162 views)
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Re: [bighark] writing sample [In reply to] Can't Post

Double space for fiction, single for poetry.


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


(This post was edited by ericweinstein on Nov 17, 2009, 4:48 PM)

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