The reality of it is there is no real template that will be your golden ticket for a Reconsideration Request
The key to any Reconsideration Request is that you simply show that you have done what is necessary to satisfy Google. You can say sorry all you want but if you have not shown enough hard work or changes it won't do a thing for you.
If you are trying to lift a manual penalty you should consider what your penalty notice was, lets say it was an unnatural links penalty, there is no need to go too in-depth about what happened. The webspam team at google do not care where the bad links came from, if an SEO company did it, if you did it, if you paid for them etc.. just be honest. (Any site can recover from a Penalty yes that right ANY site. Dont believe me? Check out this clip and this one)
Step 1. In a few sentences explain what has happened, be honest.
Step 2. List the issues you have fixed/solved, for example, I looked at my Webmaster Tools Links and found there were 500 links, out of those 100 were dofollow, of those 80 of them were suspect. I managed to contact 50 of them and got 30 of them removed.
Step 3. List the area you still have some trouble with. for example, I was unable to remove 50 Links that I know are bad and I have put them into my disavow file.
Step 4. Explain that you are sorry for what happened and that you will be taking responsible action from now on.
Step 5. optional but can be very helpful. Upload a spreadsheet to Google Docs showing all the work you have done.
If you have been affected by a Negative SEO Campaign / Attack or there has been some sort of mistake, explain that in Step 1, but you will still have to do something about it. There are only very very rare cases where Google will revoke a manual penalty without some hard work being done to make sure your site is compliant.
Submit your reconsideration request here
How long does it take to hear back from Google?