This Boy's Life: How to Write Love Letters

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that the art of writing love letters is slowly becoming a lost art. More often than not, we’ve come to depend on letter-writing manuals and résumé helpers to get us through tough times, like when we apply for jobs, for example.

However, when it comes to matters of the heart, résumés in general, don’t win the heart of the person whose affections you desire. There are no handy little guides that tell you exactly what to say so almost everything that you can say should be okay by virtue of poetic license. Sadly, there exists a fine line between garbage and gold in these letters. So many writers cross this line without ever knowing it. Bad letters make not only for bad reading, but say a million things not generally favorable about the letter sender.

Here are some notes I’ve compiled from going over the letters I’ve sent and received all the way from high school, as well as Michelle Lovric’s guide on the matter (I fear that that book is now out of print). I hope they help.

By the way, if you think having good grades in grammar absolves you of love letter writing problems, think again. Your love letter may be grammatically correct but great grammar doesn’t guarantee a great love letter.

First off, make sure that you select good paper when you write your love letter, because every aspect of that paper reflects on you. Fine linen paper is available at your local office supply store. Marshall McLuhan, the media guru did say that the medium is the message. There’s some truth to that.

Write your love letters, don’t type them. My wife, for instance, never accepted a typed love letter, except if it was an e-mail. Neither should you.

Use a fountain pen (or a gel pen if you can’t get one), and make sure it’s compatible with the paper so your letters come out clear and not smudged at the fine points. However, if you’re blessed with handwriting that looks like it came from the 18th Century, replete with touches of flourish, then by all means use that. Otherwise, and if your handwriting is worse than a first grader’s, print letters will do.

If you have to use e-mail, don’t use fonts so curvy like Curvy Script MT or similar. In a similar vein, don’t use fonts like Arial or Times New Roman — they belong to business letters. Use nice, easy fonts like Book Antiqua, or even rarer fonts just as long as they aren’t too curvy they can hardly be read. Rare fonts give the idea that you took the time to track down a special font just for them.

Begin by telling the other how lonely you were without their company. Tell them how happy you were to see them and how it brightened up the rest of your week, even though you only saw that person once that week, and while passing each other in the hallway. Be creative, just make sure it refers to the object of your affection and how that person affects the way you do or see things.

It goes without saying that the poetic license involved in the writing of letters of affection does not excuse the letter sender from bad grammar or improper spelling. These things, though overlooked, give credibility to your thoughts.

Take this sentence for example.

EnIwEiZ, hOw wuZ ur dAy?

This sentence, though informal, fun, and quirky, does not convey the same intensity, passion, and depth of conviction as this line:

Anyway, how was your day?

Where the first sentence makes you look and sound like a teenybopping idi*t, the second sentence makes you sound like you thought out your feelings in a mature, sensible manner. Correct grammar also makes you look more intelligent than what you already are. Love letters are a serious business: treating them with formality and respect signifies that you’ll treat the heart you’re wooing with formality and respect, too.

Whatever you do, never insert details of your day that is in no way related to the other, like paying the bills, feeding the cat, or going to the john. These details do not help you, your cause, or your writing, so keep them out of the way. The letter is for the object of your affection. Keep everything related to him or her.

As you end, repeat the idea that it’s sheer torture to wait until you see or hear or read from your beloved again. Tell them that the only supplication and relief you want or need is just for the recepient to answer the letter. Ask if they feel the same way. How well you write this section may very well determine whether or not you get the cold shoulder the next time that you meet.

When you end, you may or may not include personal details of affection, such as a heart at the end of one’s signature, or kisses as marked by X’s and O’s.

Choose the envelope by which you send the letter with the same meticulousness as you did your paper. It’s the first thing people notice when they get a letter. If you have a friend well-versed in the art of Speedball, have him write the addressee’s name for you. By no means should you print anything on the envelope.

Keep everything as far away from technology as possible. Romance is an idea from the time of Lord Byron. As a general rule, it s good to approximate that age in terms of overall impact. Of late, wax seals have been making their presence felt in Manila’s stationery stores. Make full use of them.

Now, all you have to do is send it. For Pete’s sake never send it by the local postal service, unless you have a second envelope over the envelope holding your letter. You do not want your hard work in preparing your letter soiled by some stamp or postal seal. Let a mutual friend deliver it or better yet, deliver it by hand. When letting a mutual friend deliver it, disclose nothing. This is where these seals come in.

Now what I’ve told you may or may not get you the man or woman of your dreams (or girl or boy as the case may be) but at least you’ll leave a definite impression.

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