Replying to personal ads
When you find interesting personal ads and feel an urge to reply, don't be bashful! That person may just love to hear from you. You definitely won't know unless you contact them and find out.
When replying to personal ads, try to be, well, personable. Write at least a paragraph or two about yourself and what you like about them or their ad. Don't give up too much information, but tell them enough to get them interested. Mention things you have in common, and maybe ask a question or two about them. You are trying to get a conversation going, so asking questions is a good idea, as long as you don't ask too many. Also try to avoid long letters with little details that might be considered boring. Keep it to the point, but try to let your personality shine through.
Here are a couple of good, ice-breaking starter topics: If you live in the same area, comment on the area, or something relating to it. One of you may be new to the area, and would like to know more about it. Music is also a good conversation starter, most everyone likes some kind of music. Hopefully, the person's personal ad listed the types of music they like, so you know where to go with the conversation. Whatever you do, don't talk about the weather, unless it is really extreme. It can be a very boring subject.
It is probably a good idea to have the intentions of "friends first" when replying to personals. After all, it takes a while to get to know someone, and you don't want to jump into a heavy relationship until you know (or at least think) they might be right for you. You are more likely to get a response if you are light-hearted in your first contact.