Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Advice from Washington Post on writing angry letters

Columnist Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post has compiled a list of tips for writing more effective angry letters.  He was prompted to do so by one such angry letter he received over the summer in response to his comments about Dick Cheney's autobiography.  Among the columnist's humorous tips - use plenty of "all caps" to convey emotional intensity and employ multiple exclamation points to persuade.

Here's the rest of Mr. Weingarten's advice:

1) As you intuitively understand, letters that are written entirely in capitals impress us with their emotional intensity. I would advise that you adopt this form of communication for all your correspondence, particularly job applications.

2) An e-mail can never have enough exclamation points. They strengthen any argument. Here at The Washington Post, letters to the editor are prioritized for publication entirely by the number of exclamation points. You use 89, which would ordinarily just get you on a waiting list for publication. Henry Kissinger always uses at least 250.

3) You should try to be more inclusive in your use of racial, ethnic and sexual slurs. Your letter contains only one reference to sexual orientation, only one racial insult and only one ethnic disparagement. You can do better. Here are some hints: New Zealanders call Pacific Islanders "coconuts"; Australians call East Indians "currymunchers"; the British call Afro-Caribbeans "golliwogs"; French Canadians call the English "squareheads"; aborigines call white people "gwubs"; and when they do something stupid, Jews call each other "goisher kopf," which means "gentile brain." "Non-dairy creamer" is a North American term for a woman with obvious breast implants. Sprinkle these terms through your letters, particularly in correspondence with clergymen.

And finally:

4) You correctly perceive that any message will be bolstered by assurance that you are a loyal American, but you do not go far enough. Do you seriously think that merely declaring yourself an "American patriot" is enough to persuade readers that you are not secretly a terrorist, a traitor or possibly even a liberal? In the future, include the number of Confederate flags that displayed on your rotting porch, a list of your misspelled tattoos, and at least two examples of your ability to Photoshop Sarah Palin's head onto the bodies of naked teenagers.

A big thank you and hat tip to Mr. Chris Wren for sending this to me.  You're right, I did enjoy it.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2010/01/advice-from-washington-post-on-writing-angry-letters.html

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