Challenged by the writer of a letter to The Guardian to construct a ‘masterclass’ in letter writing I have responded (16.11) that something rather briefer is appropriate.
How you write the letter and how you send it is a matter of personal choice. However since my writing is illegible I word process my epistles and despite my ever present solidarity with CWU postal colleagues, I despatch them by e-mail.
Keeping to the letter format, of address, ‘Dear Editor’ and ‘Yours etc’ is important though, otherwise you might as well post something on twitter or Facebook, or indeed, for longer matters, write a blog.
So what are the key elements in my view of a good letter?
1] Brevity. There is more and more to read and attention spans may be shorter
2] To the point. Not quite the hook of a stand up comedy line but the letter needs a central focus
3] On one issue. 1+2 together mean that keeping to one issue in one letter is important although your point could be that several issues are connected
4] Humour: not always appropriate but a light hearted touch can reach places more apparently gravitas laden pronouncements sometimes don’t.
and of course regular practice makes perfect (ish)