Can you give me some hints on how to get accepted to Brandon’s BYU English 318r class?
Karen here. I’m one of Brandon’s assistants, and I judge the applications each year. There are a few ‘tricks’ to getting accepted, but mostly they’re just common sense. Treat this application as if you are submitting your manuscript to an editor for possible publication.
1. Fill out the application and follow the directions EXACTLY. Remember to name your files and email subject line EXACTLY as requested in the application. If you don’t, I will reject your application without looking at it. In past years I have been overwhelmed with applications, so I can only consider the first 65 submissions. Here is a link to the application. Applications can be submitted beginning on October 23 each year for winter semester of the following year.
2. The writing sample should be the first chapter of your novel, and fit the wordcounts listed. If it’s too short, I won’t be able to get a good sense of your writing skill. If it’s too long, I will just stop in the middle and might reject your application for not following the rules. It’s best if you find a good stopping point within the wordcount limits.
Your first chapter is the hook of your novel. It may be the only thing that an editor or reader looks at. Make it something that will make me want more at the end of it.
After reading each writing sample, I’ll write a one sentence summary and give it a Good, Maybe, or No score.
3. I won’t look at the short answer questions before judging the writing samples. I generally end up with more than 15 ‘Good’ stories, and that’s when I take the short answers into account. A senior who has taken the lecture class before, has written three complete novels and listens to Writing Excuses is more likely to get accepted than a freshman who has not completed any novels or attended the lecture.
4. The essay will either confirm my previous impressions, or turn me off entirely. It’s all well and good to say that you feel your calling in life is to be an author, and that you’re committed to making a career of it, but if you haven’t put in the work of actually sitting down and completing a novel or two, then you’re not ready to get the full benefit of the workshop portion of this class.
5. Remember that if you are not accepted into the class, it does not mean that I’m rejecting you as a person or as an author. I only have 15 slots. There have been authors who applied one year, got rejected, took the lecture class anyway, then applied the next year and were accepted because they had a few more pluses on their application and more experience writing. I hope that you will take the lecture class no matter what your application status is, and that if your schedule permits, you will apply again another year.
Good luck and good writing!