Top Tips for Writing a Good Love Letter
Sep 10, 2009
Expert Answers & Top Tips,
Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you have to put the brakes on romance. A good love letter puts a zing in your partner’s step for days on end. And since they bring that zing back home to you, how can you go wrong?
Need a little help getting started? Here are my top tips:
1. Kill a tree.
Don’t get me wrong: I love our fine, leafy friends and support going paperless in just about every other situation in life. And flirty text messages and e-mail mash notes definitely have their place in a good relationship.
But if you really want to make your intended’s heart skip a beat, break out a pen and paper, or at least the printer. There’s something about the permanence of it. Not to mention you give your mate the fun of having something to open – the treat of getting mail that’s not a bill, or the spy games intrigue of finding it in a briefcase or coat pocket.
And if in 30 years your grandchildren happen to find that little bundle all tied up in a bow, well, that’s a treat for them too. Plus they’ll know what hot stuff you were in your heyday.
2. Heart first, brain later.
The number-one thing that gets people tongue-tied (pen tied?) is assuming you have to write a perfect letter all in one go. Don’t try it – you’ll make yourself nuts.
Assume you’ll write at least three drafts. Hey, you’re in love – part of this is about the effort. Plus, that takes away the pressure of being perfect.
For the first draft, just pour out your feelings. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, syntax, or punctuation. Don’t worry about being clever. Don’t even worry about making full sentences. You can take care of all that later. Just let your heart say everything it needs to until it’s done. Feels good, doesn’t it?
For the second draft, take all that big, lovely mushiness and give it a little discipline. Organize your thoughts, tame those sentences, and take the time to hit a thesaurus or call your friend to find that one perfect word you want. It’s work, but it’s satisfying. And you’ll start to notice you’re not half bad at this: Some of those heartfelt emotions you’re herding around are pretty good.
Now set your letter aside for a bit, then come back and look at it with fresh eyes so you can give it a final polish. It’ll never be perfect, but it can be pretty satisfying. Well done.
3. Keep your focus.
True story: I once went to the wedding of a talent manager who chose an actress as her maid of honor. And while the maid’s speech was technically about the bride… It really wasn’t. Oh, sure, it began and ended with the bride's name, but there was a whole lot of maid of honor in between.
Unlike most letters, when you’re supposed to do most of the talking about you and your life, the make-‘em-swoon love letter is all about the recipient. Ideally, you serve as a filter for the fabulousness of your partner. Make liberal use of phrases like “I love it when you…” and “I love the way you…” It’s all about how the world (and your time in it) is better because the lucky recipient of your love letter is so amazing.
People should hear how terrific they are more than they generally do. To hear sincere appreciation from the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is one of the best gifts you can get.
4. Go big.
It’s a love letter, after all. If you’re going in, go all in. Tell your one and only why he or she is, and how you know. If you’re feeling a grand, sweeping passion, mention it. You’re already using the stamp.
5. Go little.
You’ll earn extra bonus points for noticing the little things that no one else would. Don’t underestimate this. Years ago, a guy I hadn’t ever really noticed at work dropped a note into my cube – already points for charm – and in it he mentioned noticing that I took my rings and watch off to type.
The fact that he’d noticed such a little habit showed me that he really paid attention. And he fact that he took it as evidence that I was intriguing showed he had excellent taste – and got him a date.
6. Risk being silly.
It’s not about being guarded, safe and cool. A love letter isn’t a love letter unless you’ve put your heart on the line. Go ahead and be a fool for love, and go ahead and say something imperfectly rather than censor your feelings. Silly? Maybe. But that’s the letter that your mate will never quite be able to throw away.