Letter writing tip: use the opening line you’re afraid of.
“I’m writing to you today because …”
We writers push back from using this opening line in letters. Isn’t the wording overused? Won’t the reader consider this approach too ordinary or trite? Isn’t persuasive writing purposely vague rather than direct, as suggested by this line?
No. No. And no.
Do your own unscientific poll. Read the opening lines of 10 or 20 appeal letters, job inquiry letters, and business letters (or any kind of letter) and you’ll discover that the wording “I’m writing to you today because …” is anything but overused.
Even in the off chance that you note the phrase in a few of the letters you read, you’ll discover that it is not clichéd or trite. Good writers are simply too creative to let that happen.
The truth is that a direct approach is one of the best ways to start a letter. Readers can spot evasion fast. That’s why the opening line, “I’m writing to you today because …” is so effective in appeal letters, cover letters, letters of inquiry, and straight-up business letters. (In fact, one of the biggest pitfalls in letter writing is a delayed opening.)
“I’m writing to you today because …” shows the reader knows you’re not messing around. She won’t have to wade through several paragraphs or pages to find out what the letter is about.
Readers appreciate directness. It demonstrates that you respect their intelligence and their time.
I wish I’d known this letter writing tip years ago. If I had realized that I could at launch into the first draft of a letter with the words, “I’m writing to you today because …” then I could have saved hours of frustrated writer’s block and had better results sooner. It’s a great way to get started. And you can always edit your opening line later.
That’s why I’m sharing it with you. Take a look at the variations on a theme of “I’m writing to you today because …” and notice how creative and persuasive you can be with this opening line.
“I’m writing to you today because of Rafael. When I looked into his face 6 months ago, I saw the pain of rejection and ridicule of being born with a cleft palate. But today I had the opportunity to Skype with Rafael and his family. And when I looked into his face this time, I see a big smile …“
The opening line allows you to launch into a story … which allows you to launch into your ask.
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