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Is it wrong to copy intro letters?

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Opally
Opally's picture
Is it wrong to copy intro letters?

Basically the title. I don't feel like writing a million different intro letters and there's only so much you can say in one. I mean, it's not like they're going to know, but I feel like it's deemed as "lazy" or something?

ShadeyBiz89
ShadeyBiz89's picture

The information you share in an introduction is mostly the same, so in terms of what you share about yourself, it doesn't have to be different, but you should include something personalized to them. I have a sort of a loose template I use for my intro, in which I introduce myself, explain how I come across them/ why I wrote them/what I expect out of this correspondence, talk about some hobbies and interests of mine, and I always comment on things they say in their ad (or on the shows some of my pals were in) that stood out to me and talk about that to make sure they know this is truly meant for them. Comment on things they said in their ad that interested you, maybe talk about a couple things you have in common, and if you have questions to get to know them ask a few as as well. Nothing wrong with a sort of template for how you share about yourself in an intro, as I think we all have stuff we consider to be appropriate or not for a first letter, but at least some of it should be personalized to the individual. Figure out for yourself what you're comfortable sharing in an introduction, and stick around that, and then just make the rest of it about them. Comments about them and questions directed at them give them something to respond to and will make for a better response, as people enjoy sharing about themselves.

Not saying you or anyone here would do this, but there was a lady on here many years ago who would just literally copy entire letters and just change the names at the top, she wrote to like 50 inmates doing that with all of them. I don't recommend doing that, she did that and over time, if not right away, the inmates will be able to feel that it reads like a form letter, nothing personal or specific to them, gives it a bit of a scripted feel, which is not what you're going for. But you guys all know that.

Opally
Opally's picture

That helped so much @Shadey. I tend to forget that they should have things to respond to, so I made the mistake last night of only talking about me and sending the JPay off... oops! I didn't even say why I was writing (facepalm). I think I'll use my intro letter for another inmate and work around it to personalize it in regards to whoever else I write to. Your tips really helped me think of things so thank you for that! I wasn't sure how to personalize one. :)

ST4s
ST4s's picture

What @Shadey said. Everything.

And I’ll admit to doing most of my writing on a keyboard instead of with a pen, so it’s easy to copy/paste with impunity - but I don’t. My goal is to make a connection, and that’s something you just can’t do with a form letter. Now, tailoring some already-written, introductory paragraphs in this case, absolutely!

GalapagosDiver2
GalapagosDiver2's picture

Shadey hit it on the head and said all that is to be said. 

Shit, I didn't mean to sound like Dr Suess then Haha

It's not wrong to copy intro letters - because after all, how many different ways can you say the same shit about yourself?

But each letter should always be customised specifically to an inmate.  For example, user their name, mention specific things about their ad, what drew you to write them, ask questions specific to their interests, location, hobbies, studies etc.  By all means, copy-paste the things about yourself to them, but try relate to the individual and speak to them like a human being, as opposed to a web page or piece of paper.

Opally
Opally's picture

I have one more question! One of the profiles says I can send a self-addressed stamped envelope with my letter in case they don't have postage, but I don't understand what that means? Do I stuff another envelope into my envelope or...?

Opally
Opally's picture

I appreciate your feedback @ST4s and @Galapagos! I'm going to do customize each one since it would make me feel bad to just make a mass production of an intro letter. 

ST4s
ST4s's picture

Wow @Opally! You'd be a trailblazer! I've never heard of such a thing being allowed in incoming prison mail - a self-addressed envelope?!? With a stamp?!? Sounds like a very special place!

Yes, you'd stuff an empty, unsealed envelope in with your letter - an envelope addressed to you, with a stamp.

Thucy82
Thucy82's picture

Agree with all of the replies. It's funny, because I was thinking of asking the same question. Last year, when I started the penpal thing, I wrote quite a few different letters to each inmate only to receive 3 answers, so now that I'm looking for new penpals, I typed a generic letter instead of writing a different one each time. I'll probably add a new paragraph to each of them so that I can explain why I'm interested in them particularly, because the letter was feeling a bit generic. But then again, there's only so much one can say in an introduction letter.  Anyway, if I get a reply, I'll be answering by writing a real letter, not typing it. If I'm being honest, typing even the introduction letter feels a bit wrong, but I couldn't see myself copying the same letter by hand, so yeah.