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Wednesday, May 7, 2003   |    How To

Ransom-Note Writing Tips

by Josh Abraham

You’ve worked hard perfecting your elaborate plan, keeping tabs on your subject, selecting your tools and accomplices, running practice drills, forging documents … but have you forgotten the most important part of your heist or kidnapping scheme? Too many would-be thugs are unprepared when it comes to effectively conveying a message to their intended intimidatees. A hastily written ransom note is the number one reason criminals get caught. And, even worse, poor planning at this stage can cause your readers to dismiss you and your note as the work of an amateur.

If you want your reader to take you seriously, Enterprise Thug & Goon’s brand new Ransom-Note Writing Services will help you tailor a note to your specific needs. For over 15 years, Enterprise Thug & Goon has been number one in treachery, sedition, blackmail, intimidation, and thuggery.

Some helpful hints:

Preparing Your Note

Before you start slicing up headlines, take a moment to think about precisely what it is you want to say. If you like, you can brainstorm with a pencil and paper, or even type something up… but remember to burn the evidence! No need to leave incriminating scraps of paper around your apartment or creepy sub-basement lair.

Now that you have all your main points, compare them with this checklist:

  • Have you named exactly who/what you’ve stolen?
  • Have you picked a fair and appropriate ransom expectation?
  • Have you clearly, cleanly, and explicitly conveyed the method of exchange?
  • Have you made an implicit threat to the hostage/stolen goods?

These are all extremely important components of a ransom note, and should not need reminding. Yet time and again, harried kidnappers on the lam will send a note leaving out any one of these crucial details.

Composing Your Note

Always be direct! While you may spend hours crafting your note, it’s important to remember that the average ransom-note reader will likely spend just ten to twelve seconds reading your hard work before breaking down into complete hysterics and waving your note helplessly in the air.

But ten seconds is all you need to effectively communicate your point. Do not waste time with vague threats when a simple “Or Else!” will do. If you have precise plans in the event the ransom does not come through, express these using active power verbs. Compare the difference between:

Give me the money or I will hurt your husband.”


Deliver the money or I will maim your husband.”

Constructing Your Note

Sometimes, all that separates your note from countless other threats is the presentation. You should choose a design that is eye-catching, but not overly flashy. Remember, you’ve got only ten seconds to make a lasting impression!

The first step, obviously, is your paper. Simple typing paper tears easily and may soak through to the point of illegibility if the reader is crying. You should choose a heavy cardstock that will withstand the rigorous wear and tear to come—remember, a good ransom note will be passed around dozens of hands: friends, family members, and local, state, and possibly federal authorities.

When selecting your letters, do not just cut up any old papers at hand. The careful, considerate ransom-note writer will pay attention to color scheme and font compatibility. While a white typeface may look great in a magazine, on an off-white background, it may prove hard to read. And mixing and matching various sizes, shapes, and serifs of your fonts could prove harsh on the eyes. Ultimately, you want the reader to smoothly and quickly get to the end of your note without ever stumbling over an awkward logo.

Finally, remember that neatness counts! An X-acto knife is preferable over scissors to slice clean, exact lines around your letters, and rubber cement is better than regular glue, because you can easily wipe away the excess.

Of course, there’s a lot more to crafting a perfect ransom note, and Enterprise has many skilled experts just waiting to help you bring out the best in yours. To meet with one of our professional writers, call Enterprise Thug & Goon today, and you can be delivering your own polished ransom notes in just one hour. Plus, we’ve got an extensive selection of magazines, newspapers, and flyers for you to find and cut out the letters that are just right for your special note.

Josh Abraham was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevski. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham's fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.