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5 Writing Tips for the People Who Send Me Death Threats

Step 4: Turn Fear into a Weapon!

When writing a death threat you have more at your disposal than just a simple piece of paper and some blood on a stick. You have the entire history of your reader from which to draw, and assuming you can pluck out a few of his/her greatest fears you can be sure that your letter stands out from all the others. Phobias are a great area of concentration because they can be sharpened into tiny weapons that, if wielded properly, can pierce the heart of your intended recipient like arrows from Cupid's bow. Imagine an arachnophobic learning that you intend to plant spider eggs under her skin, or a hypochondriac discovering that you want to sneeze directly in his mouth. That's certain to get their heart rates up, and as we all know, a quickly beating heart can easily be mistaken for love.

"Alright, let's do this."

Examples:

Forgettable:

Effective:

This one is tricky because the first one has some great specificity; it promises to, if I understand it correctly, offer my head to someone through a sack and then to introduce me to a closet so massive it has stairs. I for one have never seen a closet that large and I will admit that it piqued my curiosity. However, the whipping with wire does little for me; I don't understand how it appeared in the presented scenario or why it's important that it be electrical. What's more, I'm almost certain I would scream louder if I was being whipped, so the logic doesn't really check out.

The second letter, however, plays on my long-standing uneasiness with blood. There is a terrific attention to detail in just one line insinuating the possibility of being intentionally hemorrhaged over by a stranger. What's more, it doesn't include the actual promise of murder which brings us to another important aspect of any death threat...

Step 5: Leave Them Guessing!

Not every flirtation needs to end in sex, and not every threat needs to end in death. It's a common misconception that every death threat actually needs to mention how the death will occur, but in many ways, this can actually hurt a letter rather than help it. It turns out, for instance, that acknowledging the method of murder can a) tip off the reader to your plans and b) be used as hard evidence against you in a court of law. Instead, think of your letter as the plot of a romantic film; you might show the first few steps leading to fornication but explicitly showing the act in its entirety will only transform what could have been art into tactless porn. A letter that never blatantly promises a murder but maintains the tone of mortal threat throughout will go a lot further with the reader while simultaneously making it harder to incarcerate you on any legal grounds.

Examples:

Forgettable:

Effective:

I can't stress enough how much that last one really freaked me out. After reading it, I have nothing but questions yet I'm almost certain I will not like the answers. Furthermore, if the author is willing to hurt herself in such a passive way, then I don't like my odds in that scenario. My only hope would be that I could withstand the horror for long enough that she bleed out and I could go home. But these hypotheticals I create in my mind are exactly why this form of a threat works so well. I am playing out different options in my mind trying to understand where the writer is coming from and I simply can't; there is too much crazy there for me to wade through. If you can write a letter that even comes close to this fragment of a sentence then you've got a special gift, and that celebrity, ex, teacher, or Internet comedy writer doesn't deserve you. You should probably just move on to something worthy of your affection. Please.


Next week, the hilarious Lindy West will be filling in for me. Should you fall in love with her over me, I am fully prepared to fight her for your admiration when I return.

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Soren Bowie

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