John Ashcroft

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

I encourage everyone to write a novel. It doesn’t matter whether the finished product is any good—let alone publishable. It’s the experience that’s important. The novelist has to come up with a plot, create characters, give those characters challenges and invent believable behavior patterns and thought processes to deal with them. Like a chess player, the novelist must think many moves ahead, create mental scenarios and play a continual game of “What if …” In the 1960s and 1970s I wrote three novels that I was lucky enough to get published. The exercise of completing a novel gave me the equivalent of a Ph.D.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), a staunch proponent of outer envelope "shock teasers" and fear-inspiring donor letters, may have discovered its most jarringly effective effort to date. In May, the gun control nonprofit dropped a #11 envelope package with a graphic of an Intratec TEC-9 Assault Pistol ominously displayed above the poly window (601COSTGV0503). The adjoining teaser copy to the right—much more quiet and subtle than an image of a gun, but just as powerful in this context—reads: "Legal in your neighborhood as of 9/04." The package contains just a four-page letter, donor card and BRE. It is clear that this

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