Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thoughts on a NONFICTION writing sample

kennan wrote:

I have a question about using previously published work as part of a writing sample for an application to a creative nonfiction program. I wrote for a major metropolitan paper for about a year before deciding that I wanted to focus more on writing and less on reporting. Does anyone have experience with using news-features pieces that have been published as part of a writing sample? Good idea or bad idea? Thoughts?

Any advice from non-fictioneers?


Lizzy said...

A news feature probably can't showcase the kinds of writing skills/potential that nonfiction programs will be looking for. My famous gut feeling is saying you shouldn't rely on reportage to get you in for CNF.

My usual disclaimer applies here: I'm not omniscient; these are just my opinions; please proceed with care.

Katherine said...

I agree with Lizzy. If you're applying to a Creative Non-fiction program, then you'll want to show them what you can produce about yourself....or about the world around you. Journalistic pieces tend to not be at all what MFA programs are looking for, and while I'm sure the experience will look great on your resume/CV, its not going to wow anyone as a sample.

Anonymous said...

Hi Seth & everyone -

I'm relatively new to the MFA search. Finishing up my undergrad at Temple University next May, and pursuing the nonfiction MFA for fall 2010 admission.

Anyway ... a question about the writing sample. Many programs say something to the effect of write 20-25 pages or 30 pages maximum. Others say, like Penn State, simply say "30 pages." Am I correct in assuming this is a maximum number of pages, and that 22-25 pages (via one or two stories) would suffice? Or is 30 the minimum?

Sorry if this is a) a stupid question and/or b) already been answered in a previous post. As I said, I'm new to the search and this blog.

In advance, thanks.

Ross Markman

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