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How to Achieve Fiction-Writing Fame

Being a member of the fiction-writing elite is only seven simple steps away. Unlike those other become-a-famous-writer plans out there, such as the often exorbitantly priced MFA writing program option, this plan really works:

Step 1:
Quickly dash off a short story in which a silly teen has problems finding a complementary lover. Do not worry about grammar or subject-verb agreement. Do not worry about plot or crafting the perfect d‚nouement. Make it all a dream sequence. Write it from the point of view of your dog.

Step 2:
Post a job listing online in which you position yourself as the CEO of a short- story editing service looking for new editors. List the following job responsibility: assist clients with story outlines and idea generation. List the following job qualification: exceptional creative writing and grammar skills. To take advantage of the surplus of unemployed, over-educated English majors, add the phrase: “English degree from top college a must!”

Step 3:
When resumes start pouring in, send an email to each candidate instructing them to edit the attached “practice” short story sample to better gauge their editing prowess. Attach your haphazardly created story to the email and be sure to explicitly state that judging will be based exclusively on the quality of the submitted final draft regardless of the severity of its departure from the original.

Step 4:
Read each applicant’s edits to your story, and savor their various, excellently chosen improvements. Perhaps your favorite revision of your story is titled “Shaking Me Awake.” Indeed, perhaps this particular editor has only retained 15 words from the original text. The story now, for example, might be about a man named Eustace who, despite hating his father for years, learns to love him after a freak earthquake traps them together in a wine cellar.

Step 5:
Simultaneously submit “Shaking” to all the most prominent literary magazines. When it is selected by most of them, accept publication in only the most prestigious publications. Later, when your dishonorably achieved story wins Honorable Mention in a Best American Short Story anthology, laugh at the irony.

Step 6:
When the candidate who edited “Shaking” emails you to ask why his amazingly well-crafted short story won Honorable Mention in a Best American Short Story anthology under your name, tell him: “Go pound sand, Sucker.”

Step 7:
Don’t underestimate this so-called “sucker.” If you do, he might decide to get revenge and publish your short story scam secrets in The Harbus for all to see.

January 30, 2006
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