more note-writing tips from Ms. Mismanners

Dearest kind readers,

It has been some time since I have offered you my advice in matters of etiquette. I believe that some of you may be shy about seeking advice in so public a forum, and have attempted to make your requests in subtle ways. For example, I recently received the following note:

we have mr barkworth pay or else await instructions

As I have not had the pleasure of being personally aquainted with the Mr. Barkworth referenced in the above communication, I must assume that either this note was sent to me in error, or that more probably, the note-writer was requesting advice about the proper wording of ransom notes. I am happy to oblige.

The first point I would like to address is on a matter of style rather than etiquette. While use of capitalization and punctuation is a often a matter of personal style, I would heartily recommend using at least some punctuation. I would like to point out that in such matters, it is particularly important to avoid ambiguity. In the note above, I presume that as the specifics of payment have not yet been made explicit, the writer is not actually suggesting the choice between the option of paying vs. waiting for instructions. I believe the author intended to communicate the coercive suggestion “Pay, or else” and the explicit directions “await instructions.”

Secondly, while brevity is certainly a trait to be admired, I fear that the intended recipient of your original note may have found your wording to be somewhat impolite. Might I suggest the following rewording:

    Dear Madam or Sir,

    I hope that this day finds you well, and that you are enjoying this fine spring weather. I have recently been admiring the lovely flowers that are now blooming in your garden, and I expect that they bring you much pleasure.

    It may have come to your attention that your beloved Mr. Barkworth was not in attendance this morning. Rest assured, he is unharmed, and I am certain you will be reunited with him soon.

    I am certain that you will wish avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness, especially out of consideration for the aforementioned Mr. Barkworth, and therefore I must suggest that you refrain from contacting any third parties. I will forward to you additional information about our upcoming transactions shortly. I eagerly anticipate continued communication with you in this matter.

    A Friend

I hope that this information has been of some help to you, and I wish the best of luck to you in this endeavor.


Ms. Mismanners

4 thoughts on “more note-writing tips from Ms. Mismanners

  1. Wait! THEY have Mr. Barkworth? Good god, this is a mighty coincidence…we’ve been looking for him all day!

    Well they seem to be such well-spoken and -mannered young folks, I’m sure he’s doing just fine in their company. Give them my best regards.

  2. Pingback: the skwib

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