Your friendly neighbourhood 18-year-old

My sister turned 18 recently. And my parents (after much persuasion from big sis here) agreed to have a big old shindig at home. It meant cooking lots of food, buying lots of booze, and making lots of noise.

So she decided to drop a little note to our neighbours to let them know there’d be some loud sounds, maybe till the wee hours. She called me up to ask if what she’d written was okay. This is what she had:

Dear Sir/Madam
123 will be holding a party, where there will be loud music until 2am.
We'd like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.
Thank you
123 Tokyngton Avenue

Ummm... 

I had to get her to rewrite that quick-sharp. But it was interesting to see even my 18-year-old sister distancing herself with such business-like formality. For whatever reason.

After prompting her a few times with ‘what would you say if you were telling them in person?’ and ‘how would you want it to look if you were getting this?’ she gave it another go.

And it ended up sounding like this:

Hello

This is just a quick note to let you know I’m having an 18th birthday party this Saturday. We’ll try our best to keep it down, but if it gets a bit too loud, I’d like to apologise in advance.

My excuse is I’m only 18 once!

Thanks

Aw. A bit warmer, a bit more personal, a bit more like her. And though the party did indeed get loud and late, we had zero complaints. In fact, a few neighbours came by during the week to tell us they really enjoyed the music from the comfort of their own homes. Which I don’t think would’ve happened if we’d gone with the formal, stuffy first draft.

So it’s always worth thinking about your reader – even if it’s just a note to your neighbours.

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