Fiction Focus: Last free peek at Andy Hueller’s ‘How I Got Rich Writing C Papers’

This is the last free preview of Andy Hueller’s “How I Got Rich Writing C Papers.” You’ll have to buy a copy of the book if you want the rest of the content. You can do that on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.

EXCERPT:

If you read enough, do so carefully, and know what to look for, though, figuring out what a D paper should look like versus a C or a B isn’t that difficult. English teachers are just experienced readers. They’ve read a lot of pretty decent student writing and even more hasty, careless writing, and they’re good at shoving essays into assessment drawers. You do the same thing with clothing. You put all of your socks together in one drawerbecause they all have similar characteristics. They look the same and feel the same. You don’t look at a sock and wonder, “Is that a sweater? Which drawer should I put it in?” You don’t get the two confused. English teachers don’t confuse D papers with B papers, either. They know what a D paper looks like, and they know what a B paper looks like. An A paper’s a little different. No two true A papers look alike””and yet teachers know one when they see one. I know these things, too; I’ve just figured out a way to make a lot more money knowing how to read papers than teachers do. If you want to know the truth, you probably don’t need to read this entire book if all you want to do is write A papers. You can skip ahead to the section I’ll write later.*10And I’ll give you a preview here.1It only takes me 292 words to explain how to write a strong essay. Here goes:

An essay is like a burrito. Seriously. And not just any burrito. A Chipotle burrito””the world’s best, most perfect food. You start by laying out the surface on which your essay will build. That’s your introduction. Your tortilla. You often have a pretty good idea what the ingredientswill be””you have examples in mind, points you want to make””but often something else, or something different, catches your eye. A new point. An ingredient you hadn’t been thinking of that all of a sudden strikes you as more interesting, more appealing. You plan to go with chicken, maybe, but then the person ahead of you orders steak, and then when your burrito builderturns to you, you find yourself saying, “Yeah””I’ll have steak, too,” even though you’ve never had steak before. There are so many options, always, so many potential combinations. And here’s the thing, the most delicious part of it all: By the time you wrap it up (your conclusion,the tortilla again, now pulling the whole thing together), the essay/burrito has become greater than the sum of its parts. Steak””yum. Peppers and onions””scrumptious. Cilantro-lime rice””mouthwateringly tasty. Same thing for corn and tomatoes and cheese. Wrap them all together with a tortilla, though (an introduction that sets the stage for alchemy, a conclusion that brings it all together in surprising, satisfying ways), and you have something kraptaculous (a word my grandpa used to say all the time and that should mean something’s bad but instead means something’s better than good because my grandpa was awesome). You’ve written somethingstrong and insightful and unpredictable yet carefully constructed: something kraptaculous. Something that’s gooey, chewy, and crunchy all at once. And who wouldn’t want to read/eat that? Huh?

See? That’s 292 words, and you have a pretty good idea””a visual, tangible, olfactorily-pleasing example””of what an essay should do and look like.

Does that analogy help? You might also start thinking about what your essay will feel like to your reader. What effect does it have? I’ll give you a couple examples of what it might feel like. Here’s one: To your reader, a good essay should feel like an unexpected thank-you card.

Dear Mike, Cindy, Robert, Susie, and who could forget your darling poodle Ginger!

I want to thank you for the beautiful belongings we stole from you last month! I’m sureM you’ve dealt with your share of fear and trepidation since that Tuesday night we broke into your house, tied you to chairs, and wiped your place clean, but I can assure you the effort was not in vain. I can tell you we have appreciated the flat screen TV during this exciting football season!

One of my colleagues has especially taken to the family photos, which he takes into the bathroomwith him. . . . And of course we got great use out of Ginger’s brother Cinnamon. He went in the Crock-Pot last week, and he fed us for three days!

Anyway, I felt compelled to write this note of thanks as, due to the blindfolds, you could not see the expressions of glee on our faces as we robbed you of your possessions.

We’ll see you soon””actually we see you right now!””and you may or may not see us soon, as well!

Love,
the Guys

I say “I’m sure” because we continue to monitoryour every move!

Unexpected thank-you cards may startle a reader. They may make her reevaluate things. That’s what a good essay should do, too.