Phoenix Bird


The Pen May Not Be Mightier Than the Sword, But....

Lobbying through letter-writing is still a viable option. Please make your letters brief and to the point. Please make logical, rational arguments based on facts, statistics and other solid information. Emotionalism belongs elsewhere than on paper for this project! Rather than pointing fingers at the root cause group (liberal socialists et al), find constructive solutions to the real problem, which is making our schools safe for all our children! We aren't going to get many more chances to do this, I'm afraid, so make your words count...

Tips On Effective Letter Writing

I checked with the editor of one of our local papers. They gave this advice:

  1. Don't name call. Don't level blame at any particular individual. (She said this turns off readers right away and is the most common offense.)
  2. Lay out what the negative impact is going to be on the community/reader in the first sentences, as well as problems that could arise as a result of the issue following through as proposed if not changed.
  3. Focus on issues.
  4. Keep it to 350 words or less.

The other paper refused to help. But they did say this...

If you want to write a good article to sway people's opinions, read the editorial page and follow the patterns of the well written ones...and keep it short! (HE was emphatic on that part!)

Word not only spell checks, but grammar checks, so you can check both spelling and grammar. However, it doesn't catch it all, and it is good to have a few tips.

Structure: Media personalities are weaned on the old RPA rule: Tell them what you are going to say, Say it, and then Tell them what you said.

With this in mind, the first paragraph (indeed, the first line) should simply say what event/action/perspective is motivating you to write. The next sentence of this paragraph should outline IN BRIEF, the reasons or issues that support that main idea. The subsequent paragraphs should briefly discuss each idea, with quotes or other information to back up the reasons you give in the second sentence of the first paragraph. The last paragraph should basically rehash or summarize the letter.

Further, another useful tool for me is to write in the 'heat of passion' and edit as Cool Hand Luke. In other words, I write the letter in my EMAIL, then mail it to myself, and go for a walk. After the walk, I come back and receive it, and try to put on my 'media head.' This is where I pretend I am the person for whom the letter is intended, and read it in that light. This rule is VERY powerful.

Another thing I do, is I look for the 'Them, There, they's..' and other third party pronouns. I try to make them specific, so I can be clear. I'd rather be redundant and clear, then vague. I also look for 'dangling prepositions' in formal writing.. split infinitives..etc, but for the new media, they wouldn't know a pronoun from a frog, so I would just make sure I have no dangling prepositions.

When you address the person, if you have no information on their title, make it higher. Flattery works.

Remember the age ol' Arkansas rule: 'Shit is slicker than sand paper,' or the Northern variant: 'Honey is sweeter than Vinegar.' Another alternative is the Fox and the Crow from Aesop. A compliment in the opening line... gets you more mileage than an insult.

Another rule: don't use a two-dollar word when a one-dollar word will do. Make your motto: eschew obfuscation!

Last, when it comes to the media, the ratings tell it all. Turn off the TV, throw away the paper... oops that's a John Denver song from way back, isn't it? LOL..

Hope this helps a wee bit.

Give me what you want.. and I can make it 'purdy.'

However, I have found the eloquence doesn't always shake their tree. What DOES shake their tree is VOLUMN of letters with a similar orientation. The folks behind the current 'spin' on things is the Reno/Clinton forces, and they don't give a RIP right now about popular views.

But yes.. get me off something you want it to say, and I'll see what I can do. Most media personalities have no more than a 3rd or 4th grade reading level; so while eloquence might 'sell' to the academic world, it is lost on the media. However, I will give it my best shot.

Excellent! Thanks you very much.. I always follow the 'Write mad, then edit calm' routine.

I also get rid of 'them's', 'they's' and 'It's'.

Another rule I follow from college is 'If you re-read it and stumble over any part of it, everyone else will also... re-write it so that it is smooth and clear' Thanks again!