Response to: “How to Say Nothingin Five Hundred Words” by Paul Roberts


An attemptto read this essay quietly is a frivolous one. “How to Say Nothing in FiveHundred Words” by Paul Roberts is nothing short of entertaining; relating toand expressing the unspoken true opinions of those who understand the ordeal ofgrading the mounds of papers turned in by college students or calling out thosewho have put together the terrible essays in question to a direct slap on thenose.  It is a very blunt piece with allthe best intentions, making for an enjoyable essay all together.

Whenassigned a five page packet to read and respond to, a few students may throw inthe towel right away. For those who stay to put in some effort the readingmaybe the more arduous task of the night. However, when it comes to those whounderstand Robert’s opinion it is easy to see that the reading was moreinspiring than anything else. Grudgingly sitting to read the article has nowevolved into a student finding more pleasure than pain in the work. Evenbetter, the student may receive an education and a better understanding ofwhere their professors sit on the other end of the red pen.

Mr. Roberts begins with a briefnarrative between him and a student who is attempting to compile loose opinionsand round statements into a vaguely acceptable essay. Watching the clumsywritings unfold and listening to Roberts nearly provoke the student as thedevil’s advocate, we see many aspects of how little is put into college levelassignments from the honest point ofview. This narrative and his examples from the student’s poor excuse for anessay are completely believable and unmistakably the nightmare of many collegeprofessors. Not only do we realize what mistakes are being made, we can relateto them and prepare for the section of criticism that applies.

Insections, Roberts points out the frequent mistakes and deliberate efforts madeto avoid writing found in freshman college students’ essays. Displaying thefaults he sees to be most common in these essays and which he wishes to correctin the following sections, he uses the dialogue as a very large thesis.  Being that nearly everyone has fabricated atleast one terrible essay with convoluted theses and overused phrases, Robertsspeaks to a large audience. By using sections and his unique direct voice, hefollows his own advice and does not skate around what he wants to imply. Hegoes as far to advise “four letter words” and using almost ridiculous opinionson the given topic.

Emphasizingunique papers with bold wording, Roberts pulls the best out of his readers,shakes it awake and sets it to work. Roberts becomes the muse for his audienceand supports them in breaking from the pack and the mundane use of “safeanswers.” Only those dead sure of their inherent ability to write superiormaterial could possibly deny any relation to this essay. This kick in the pantsto anyone in the bland herd of cattle that is essay composers is just themedicine for a change. Amusing and educational, this essay is both exemplaryand instructive to anyone who dares to hear the truth.

To the writers out there in Nerdfighteria, and I know you’re out there, please read this short story. It’s wonderful and will have you back at your laptops or notepads within seconds!



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