Posts Tagged ‘letter writing’

#50 – Writing good letters is a dying art.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Cannot remember the book but the author claimed that he had been told that if you write about sex and money, the book will be a winner. It makes sense but I cannot remember if you have to write about both sex and money or if you can handle them one at a time.

But in this case, only the topic is sexy. This column is about writing good letters and money. That is making money, saving money and having fun while doing it. If you can learn to write good letters, you are going to be richer, for sure. Whether you get more good sex or not is not in question at the moment but there is no reason why not.

There must have been hundreds of times over the years that the wife has come home and said: “We need one of your letters.”

There is a clear meaning to that statement. This is not a chatty letter to Aunt Sally she is talking about. This is a crafted letter to deal with a situation. Whether she has gotten a summons from the police or it is a concern of a neighbour, I am expected to solve it with one of my letters. It can be about getting a new engine for her car after the warrantee has expired, a refund for a can of beans from the grocery store or asking a neighbour to cut down a hedge blocking the view at the corner of the street.

But it is not an imposition. The wife knows I love writing letters of this type. She knows I keep score and, as of today, it is still better than 90 per cent for the good guys. Back when I was paid to teach people how to write good letters, I used to tell them why I could park free anywhere in Metropolitan Toronto.

Recently, the city released the book of reasons for squashing parking tickets. There was nothing secret about that book. If you have never taken the trouble to find out about the why’s and wherefore’s of charges for traffic or parking offences, you deserved to pay for them. What I am talking about is a ‘get out of jail free’ laissez passer for standard parking offences. This means expired meters, ‘no parking’ signs and the myriad of purported offenses you can commit with your vehicle on city streets. Now, I hasten to add, this did not include being a scofflaw about ‘no stopping’ areas, handicapped parking, and infractions such as blocking driveways. It does not include stupidity.

It all started because of a common error made by people who forget to think. You can see the problem every night on the CTV news at six (until somebody smarter than average tells them). That weather guy who can never hold a candle to the old Dave Devol, stands there in front of graphics that show 12 am and 12 pm. And you wonder what this confused person is talking about?

It amazes me in surveying people, how many think 12 am is noon and how many think 12 am is midnight and the very few people who tell you there is no such thing as 12 am or 12 pm. Recently a very nice and obviously educated young lady gave me a very firm lecture about why 12 am meant midnight and I should just get used to it. That shut me up until I found someone else in the same room who swore that 12 am meant noon and so I introduced him to the young lady. There was a match made in heaven.

But this is why for so many years, I parked free in Toronto. All it took was one of my letters to the parking authority. It turned out that my letter was given to a very fine gentleman who loved my letter. He loved my letter so much that he called me, gave me his phone number and told me about my free parking for as long as he was at the parking authority. He was young, in excellent health, enjoyed his job and wanted to make sure that a person who could write such a high quality letter always felt welcome in the City of Toronto.

Recently, when in parking in Toronto, I noticed a sticker had been applied over a parking sign. Where the sign had previously said ‘no parking until 12 pm,’ it now said ‘no parking until 12:01 am.’ My friend must have finally convinced the sign making people that accuracy matters. That was all I wrote about.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me

#45 – A good letter is like a good pick-up line.

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The question is whether texting has destroyed the art of letter writing or the art had already died. That is regrettable because the theory is that the person who can write an effective letter is going to get far more good sex.

And it hardly matters if you are a boy or a girl. The truth be known, guys only think they pick up girls. It is the female of the species that does the choosing. If a lady wants to feel loved, can a gentleman demure? Now that we have that clear, we can talk about writing letters. Or are you really going to ask what good letter writing has to do with influencing persons of sexual interest?

You will be glad you asked. Think about how you start a letter. Traditionally, a polite salutation is used. The key is that it is something polite. While we have been doing away with the old fashioned ‘Dear Jane Smith,’ today we use something breezier and less formal. It can be as dull as ‘Good morning’ or as smiling as ‘To the happiest person.’ What a salutation is not is intrusive, rude or some kind of hackneyed pick-up line. It is about the person whom you are addressing whether it is in a letter, at the office, in a bar or after church.

But then, like a pick-up line, the first sentence of a letter is the key to success. It is that first impression. You live or die with it. Get it wrong and you are most unlikely to ever get your shoes under that bed. Yet that sentence is surprisingly easy. What the first line is not about is you. The first line of a letter must never have an ‘I’ or ‘me’ in it. If you can follow that one rule alone, you are half way there to being a great letter writer and getting laid frequently.

The rest of the letter is easy. It must follow through with the first sentence. It provides reinforcement, necessary detail, an action plan and a time frame for things to happen. Now does that not remind you of a discussion you had with that certain person recently?

What a letter or a proposition should not be is long. In a letter, you should question it, if for any reason it is longer than a page. If the details are that lengthy, they should be a separate document that you append to the letter. In talking to that person of the interesting sex, you should have completed your pitch in just one drink. The second drink never helps make things happen.

You can think of a letter as just a formal type of sales effort. Just remember that it is not the chatty letter you send to Aunt Suzy. Aunt Suzy needs somebody to leave her money to, so it makes sense to send her the occasional, homey, cheerful and expurgated tale of what you have been doing lately.

Business letters can give much faster gratification. They can make things happen. Bear in mind, they can never be 100 per cent successful. Nor will you always be 100 per cent successful with your preferences for sexual conquests. The only guarantee is that if you do not try, you will never be successful. At either.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me