Everything old is new again…
SORTING THROUGH ANOTHER BOX of stuff I inherited from my mother and her sisters, I found a small booklet, Let’s write Friendlier Letters by Earle A. Buckley, Director of the The Buckley Institute, Philadelphia, PA.
This booklet, published in 1945, is described as: “A practical course in MODERN LETTER WRITING.” It is 36 pages long and has 21 points intended to help you become a better letter writer.
If I may be so bold as to summarize, the gist of the advice in the booklet boils down to 3 smart writing tips: be concise, be conscientious, be personable.
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AS I UNDERSTAND THEM, the 21 points are as follows:
- Every letter is a sales letter.
- Make friends with people by understanding their perspective.
- Stereotyped, trite, hackneyed phrases serve no useful purpose in letter writing.
- Words cost money so eliminate unnecessary ones.
- Your opening sentence is your first impression.
- Stop writing when you’ve said what you need to say.
- Prepare yourself mentally so that you’re thinking clearly about the subject you are about to discuss in your letter.
- Your letter must have personality if it is to be perceived as truthful.
- Stay away from long sentences because “they’re dangerous.”
- Letters are either categorized as “inquiry” or “answer.”
- Write in a way that makes the letter look pretty while molding opinions in your favor.
- When answering a complaint you must show you understand why the complainant is upset, then move the discussion to friendly terms quickly.
- Use contractions to make the tone of your letters seem conversational and natural.
- Don’t write like a telegram because your letter won’t be perceived as written by a friendly human being.
- Look at the appearance of your letters as you would the appearance of a salesman.
- Tell enough to be interesting, but not everything.
- Write so that your ideas flow logically + smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.
- Your relationship with your stenographer needs to be one of effective teamwork.
- Avoid form letters that look “form-letter-ish.”
- Get in the habit of editing your letters, you’ll become a better letter writer.
- To be an effective letter writer you must sell yourself first so that your tone will be a friendly one, sure to increase your business.
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WITH THE EXCEPTIONS OF Point 4 [words don’t cost money in the blogosphere] and Point 18 [who has a stenographer?], I’d suggest that these points are amazingly good advice for today’s modern blogger.
Good advice that is spot on IF you want to write friendlier, well-received blog posts. Perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t. Who am I to say what it is that you want to do with your blog?
However, if’n you’ve been wondering how to zhoosh up your blog making it more convivial in these stressful, antagonistic times, then may I suggest you heed this old-time letter-writing advice from 1945.
Just a friendly thought. Agreed?