How To Write Letters Your Friends Will Love

In less than 15 minutes, you can learn how to write letters your friends will love to receive....

How many times have you ripped open a letter from a far-away friend, only to be left feeling disappointed when you reached the last line? Most letters consist of a few, hastily scribbled sentences that tell you absolutely nothing about what is going on in the writer's life. Don't be guilty of wasting a stamp on a letter like that. You can write a letter your friends will love to receive. Here's how.

1. Drop the formal address that you learned in grade school. Instead of "Dear Jack," write, "Hi Jack," or "Hi there Buddy of Mine." In other words, a personal letter deserves a personal greeting.

2. Start your letter by asking how their life is going. Not, a boring, "How are you?" but something that will let them know you really want to know what is going on in their life. Try saying, "I've been wondering how your new car deal came out. Did you end up getting the Volkswagen Van or the Jeep Cherokee?" If you know about some other ambitions, problems, or plans, ask specifically about these, too.

3. By now you should have two or three paragraphs. Only then should you switch over to what you have been doing. (Let's face it. People are more interested in themselves than they are in other people, and starting your letter by inquiring about their life, lets them know they matter to you.

4. Next, jot down two or three things of interest that have happened to you since you last wrote. (They really don't care whether or not it has rained for three days in a row.) Pick things that the person you are writing to would care about. If he builds model airplanes, tell him about a new model you just read about; if he likes to read, recommend a book you think he would like to read; if he is a woodworker, tell him about a man in your town than just won an award for carving bears with a chainsaw. Don't those make more interesting topics for your letter than the observation that you went to have your teeth cleaned yesterday? If you broke your ankle, or had a coronary bypass, by all means, include it in your letter, but avoid the mundane things that happen to almost everyone, everyday, everywhere.

Your last paragraph should, if possible, remind the recipient of something the two of you share in common. This keeps the bond between you strong. Perhaps you went to high school together. You might mention that your ran into an old classmate at the store the other day. Or may have camped at a particular lake together. You could tell your reader that they just stocked the lake with rainbow trout at your old hangout, or that you really miss the old times you shared together at the lake.

Finally, end your letter with a friendly phrase of some kind. Use the recipient's name, if possible. After all, we are still talking about personal letters. "I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon, Jack," is much better than, "Truly yours."

Sit down today and answer those letters that have been piling up because you don't know what to say. You'll be surprised at how much more fun writing letters can be when you put a little effort into really "getting personal."

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