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"Freedom is never achieved except in the effort to reach it."
Wallace Roberts
"All casual drug users should be taken out and shot."
Daryl Gates, Los Angeles Chief of Police
"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."
Malcolm S Forbes

UKCIA Guide to Letter Writing

Courtesy UKCIA

All sentences should have simple structures and be brief. If one sentence can be easily written as two, it should be.

ALWAYS use the spell checker, and do a visual check for the to/too and from/form typos the spell checker will miss.

Letters should be no more than 1 to 1 1/2 pages long, and the shorter the better.

Paragraphs are usually only one or two sentences long, with possibly one three sentence paragraph per full page. Look at any front page news story, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

The lead sentence should not be more than 30 words long and should state why you are writing and what you want to happen.

A quote or cite soon after the lead sentence is a good idea. A cited fact or quote will give your opinion a broader context.

If you find yourself writing way too much prose, don't worry. You'll notice that most journalists sacrifice flow in order to put the most important point first, second-most second, etc.

In general: the ideal letter is three to six short paragraphs long, with a short, witty lead sentence (that is usually a stand alone paragraph), a good quote up high in the prose, and some clear, pointed opinions to finish. Be concise, and use tight, no nonsense prose without colloquialisms.

Try to avoid using phrases coined by War on Drugs propaganda: People are not "drug abusers," they are "people who choose to use currently prohibited substances" or "users of recreational drugs other than caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol" or "people who party with substances less harmful than alcohol" or even just "cannabis smokers." Please try to make up your own. Every time you find yourself calling pot "drugs" and pot smokers "drug users," realise that you are attaching the baggage of a lot of WoD propaganda to your prose, and try to write around it creatively.

And if you are already an experienced writer DO YOUR OWN THING. There will be enough writers influenced by my posts to cause some suspicious overlap, so it is actually a good thing to completely ignore everything I say. I was a journalist before my disability and chronic pain syndrome, and I've actually had to edit LTE's as part of my job at one paper I worked at. MAKE THEM BRIEF. It works.

[Abridged - full version is at the UKCIA site]