An English Professor Gives Feedback on Sex Spam Subject Lines


  1. “There is no problem for me to sleep with strangers, from Abigail.”

Abigail, that’s great, but there is a problem with your “there is.” In this case, those two words are an expletive construction, meaning they don’t add value to the sentence. It’s like how “fuck” is a filler word with no real meaning (though it can be a verb too—I guess I don’t have to tell you that!) Be more concise. Why not just say “I have no problem sleeping with strangers”? Save your energy for your other endeavors.

  1. “I’m so lustful. I can’t be a modest one.”

I like the short, staccato sentences to thematize breathless concupiscence. The anaphora created by the repetition of the first-person pronoun is also nice. However, “I can’t be modest” would be a stronger statement. As written, the sudden switch from the definite “I” to the indefinite “one” is problematic. James Thurber wrote of this kind of error, “Rare examples of it still exist and are extremely valuable as antiques, although it is usually unsafe to sit or lie down on one.” Especially in your case, I’d imagine.

  1. “So just one chance for you to hook up with me.”

Be sure to proofread for dropped words. Microsoft Word won’t catch the missing verb, perhaps “remains,” in this sentence. I find it helpful to read my work out loud. Do you have a cat? Read it to him, a john, whomever!

  1. “I know you do not think I’m as spicy as Angela.”

Claims should be concrete and specific, but in this sentence, I’m not sure who Angela is or why she’s spicy. Give the reader more information, like “I know you do not think I’m as spicy as Angela with the huge knockers and sublime fellatio technique.”

  1. “How about a free striptease? I’m good.”

Starting an essay with a rhetorical question can be effective, but be careful not to confuse the adjectival and adverbial forms of “good/well.” I believe you’re trying to say that you’re doing “well,” although I’m not quite sure what that has to do with a free striptease. Incidentally, did you know that the word “striptease” dates back to the 1930s but is part of a much older tradition of burlesque? You might enjoy Roland Barthes’ analysis of the semiotics of striptease in Mythologies—give it a read in your spare moments.

  1. “Let’s get drunk and then you fuck me.”

I long for you to situate the reader more within this scene. Describe the setting. What are you drinking, wearing, listening to? Show, don’t tell. Use vivid verbs to enact the progression from your libations to your exertions. I want to feel as if I’m right there with you.

  1. “You can skeet on me.”

I suspect a catachresis here, but I can’t tell which word you meant to use instead of “skeet.” Always take care to choose the word that best expresses your ideas. You seem like you have a lot to say, but without the right words, your fine argument will not shine through . . .

Okay, honestly, I’m exhausted. I can’t handle one more comma splice, dropped apostrophe in the possessive form, or paper plagiarized from Wikipedia. Is your work any easier? Could you show me the tricks of your trade? At the very least, I think I could write these emails beautifully once I knew the argot. I assume the rest of it comes with time—and rereading Joyce’s love letters to Nora should give me a few pointers, right? Ha! Maybe some D. H. Lawrence too. Anyway, please write back and let me know what you think.