In addition to the usual advice-giving (post to come later), today I’m tackling a topic that I really should’ve addressed ages ago—a topic I was reminded of this week, after one of you nicely jogged my memory:
I was wondering, you must get tons of letters. How do you decide which ones to share with the world?
Glad you asked.
Because it’s true, Auntie SparkNotes does get tons of letters. Hundreds! It’s crazy! And even though I read them all, there’s no way that I can answer each one. I wish I could…but I’m only one person. (Sad face.) So when it comes time to choose a question for the column, there are certain criteria I look for. If you’ve ever wondered whether there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting an answer, this post is for you. Here it is: the Auntie SparkNotes Guide to Asking an Answerable Question.
Have an original problem. I know there’s not much you can do about this, of course. Your problems are what they are. But I’ve got to mix it up each week; I can’t answer five questions in a row about how to talk to your crush. (Or, I mean, I could, but it would be boring.) If a question is unusual, interesting, or on a topic I haven’t seen before, it’s a shoo-in…and if the question is good but the subject matter is something I’ve tackled recently, I’ll save it for a column down the road. So, if you’ve been sitting on something wildly original—like, say, how to have a more affectionate relationship with your cat—send it my way!
Be concise. Try to sum up your problem in a few paragraphs. Even if there’s a long story involved, I don’t necessarily need to know everything—just the key points. What not to send? A three-thousand word email about how you met a guy freshman year, and then you didn’t talk for awhile, and then you got together for a week, and then you broke up because this girl named Penelope said she liked him, but it wasn’t true, and now it’s been three years, and yesterday you ate a chicken sandwich and had this crazy dream about Zac Efron and woke up feeling all funny and WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Because ohmigod, too much information.
Use grammar. Auntie needs to be able to read your question in order to answer it, so please, in the name of all that is SparkNotes, use grammar. And punctuation. And spellcheck. And, most importantly, real English. I’m old, you guys; text-speak confuses me.
Any other questions about questions? Leave ’em in the comments!