Advice about writing program
I'm applying to several creative writing programs and I worry about the number of applicants they say they get each year. Is there any way to get noticed and stand out from the crowd? Are letters of recommendation from famous authors better than ones from lesser known writers?
Julie, it never hurts to have a big name recommend you when you apply to a creative writing program, so if you have connections that allow you to ask a well known writer for a recommendation, by all means do so. And be sure to list any publications or awards you may have received.
However, by far the most important part of your application is your writing portfolio. Your competition will be talented and in many cases, already published. Excellent writing skills and an original writing voice will make you stand out from the crowd better than a letter from the most important writer.
I strongly recommend that before you send your writing portfolio with your application, you pay to have an editor or creative writing mentor go through your work and make suggestions. Good writing will always trump everything else--letters of recommendation, grades, even awards--so send only your very best work.