Today’s Ten on Tuesday prompt is “10 tips for writing a great letter.”
I’m guessing this has something to do with the Month of Letters Challenge, but since I’m not a part of that challenge I’m not going to comment on it. (I could be, nearly. I write a lot of snail mail these days.)
However, all things considered, I’m going to assume that this means a personal letter, and not a query letter, or a submission letter, or a business letter. Besides, personal letters are something that I consider to be more fun, so that’s my choice for topic.
So: my 10 tips for writing a great (personal) letter are, in the order I come up with them:
1. Use fun stationary. Whether this be crazy paper, beautiful paper, or some combination thereof, you should use something you’d like to receive. While I’ve written many letters on regular lined binder paper, those aren’t the ones that I like the most.
2. Use fun pens. This goes along with the above, but it can make even regular lined paper more fun.
3. Don’t be afraid to “color outside the lines”. When I was writing letters back and forth with my Canadian penpal in college, we got in the habit of doing some pretty non-standard things with out letters. Sometimes we’d write backwards (mirror writing), but that was hard. More likely we’d start at the middle of a page and write in a spiral, or in fun shapes.
4. Don’t be afraid to color INSIDE the lines, too. Some of my stationary has lines on it. One notable paper is of a bunch of boats (and mermaids) on the water. So the lines on this paper is wavy. It’s really fun to try to write on these lines, though I’m afraid I might sometimes make people seasick as they try to read it.
5. Confetti. Enough said.
(Okay, I realize confetti isn’t actually related to WRITING the letter. But it makes the whole letter experience more fun, mostly. It can be annoying to clean up, but when used in the right quantities and for the right ocassions, it’s good.)
6. Pictures! Whether you include them in a letter or draw them on the page, they show extra effort.
7. Write from the heart. It’s fine to give a grocery list of things you’re involved in, but what we REALLY want to hear are the details. The juicy gossip. The parts of the experience you enjoyed, or – if applicable – that hurt the most. We can’t write a heartfelt letter in return to the equivalent of a monotone.
8. Show interest in your reader’s life, too. Ask questions. Comment on things from a previous letter, if there was one. Open a conversation up for debate, and invite the letter’s recipient to respond.
9. Keep it a good length. If you see the person often, or if the letter has a specific purpose, short letters are fine. Long letters are good for catch-up letters with long-time friends or people you don’t see often. But try to make sure the letter will actually fit in the envelope. Even if that means you only tell one story in a letter, and then you write ANOTHER letter soon after to tell about something else, try to keep it manageable. If we want to read a novel, we’ll go to the bookstore.
10. Write often. You like getting mail that isn’t spam, right? Well, so does everyone else. And if no one sends letters, no one can receive them.
And yes. As I said earlier, I still write letters. (And cards.) When was the last one, you ask? I sent it yesterday. The one before that was last week.