Jan. 20, 2010: Letter writing advice for others


To The Editor:
I hate long-winded, long-sentenced, run-on paragraphs in which the writer espouses his or her personal viewpoint concerning a current political or environmental issue that they feel they ‘have to take a stand on’!
Each Wednesday when the News arrives I initially browse through the front-page stories, check the police blotter (to see if any of my friends or neighbors have run afoul of the law) and then, slowly scanning to the left, I glance at the “letters.” As usual, I’m never disappointed! Literary prose that would make a Stephen King novel pale by comparison! Columns and columns of endless dreck!
In order to foster some intelligent, original, genuinely novel, conceptual ideas, from now on all letter writers should adhere to this simple set of rules:
No parroting of something you heard on any local or national news program or talk radio/TV show. All opinions/ideas must be solely those of the writer.  Difficult as it might be to believe, most of us have already heard all the talking points from all the talking heads and the last thing we need is your personal playback of the same rehashed jargon.
Be original, come up with something new or just zip it and keep your opinions to yourself and/or your small circle of same idea, same-minded friends!  
Keep paragraphs to a few intelligible sentences. Don’t babble, be concise! Straight and to the point (assuming you actually have one). The paragraph breaks actually help keep us readers from losing our place so even if you have no change of thought, put a paragraph break in there anyway!
Closing a letter with the same ideology used to start it, but worded differently, is a waste of the readers’ time, newsprint and trees! Contrary to what your mom, priest, rabbi, psychologist and/or bookie may have led you to believe, repeating yourself will not make your argument or point of view any stronger, more valid and/or believable.
Enough already with the global warming! Neither you nor I nor the tens of thousands of scientists around the world know really what’s going on here. Restating some “facts” you heard on last night’s Learning Channel documentary does not make you any more of an authority on this issue than the man in the moon. If you are so inclined, then find ways to improve your own lot; burn cleaner fuel, drive a more fuel-efficient automobile, take cold showers, take shallower breaths! Stop breathing! Whatever! Just do it quietly in your own space and time!
Research. If you must write about a current event then use real facts! Believe it or not these will help support your position, if they are true and accurate. Ambiguous statements such as “from what I’ve heard” or “as far as I can determine” lend no credibility to any argument. This stuff won’t even work in a court of law so why think it will work in the court of public opinion.
If you present a problem, then at the very, very least make an attempt to come up with a “viable” solution of your own creation. No one here cares what “Dr. Ogborden” of “Lower Slobavia” thinks about polar caps melting. Odds are his counterpart  “Dr Borogden.” in “Upper Slobavia” that has an entirely opposite “finding” on the subject.
When presenting your personal point of view on anything, keep in mind, not all is black and white! Most things in life fall into that huge abyss in between known as the “gray area.” Who’s right, who’s wrong?
Don’t write rebuttals to rebuttals to rebuttals that appeared in previous issues. It serves no real purpose. If you really disagree with someone that strongly...call them on the phone and have a conversation! All this ‘he said...she said”, absolute waste of time and energy!
Proofread what you have written before wasting a 44-cent stamp. Does it make sense? Does it read well? Did you inject any new thought or idea on the subject? If your answer to any of these questions is a “no”, crumple up the paper, throw it in the trash and go fishing! This way the day’s not a total loss!
This one’s for the “Save the Mountain” crowd that walks among us. The mountains are not going to disappear. Regress back to the 1940s and apply this mindset to Belleayre Ski Center. It wouldn’t be here today if we had “saved that mountain.” It’s called progress and as much as you may hate it, it’s what makes the world go ’round.
Finally, be interesting! If you can’t, then be funny. If you cannot do either, don’t say anything! Of course, I realize no one really cares what my opinions are of others’ opinions so I’ll take my own advice! Who’s got the bait?

Tom Dee,