The Basics of Writing Love Letters

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Details, Details, Details

Signing Off

Yours through time and eternity, Civil War General George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) ended a love letter to his wife, Elizabeth, this way.

Always, with undying love, yours, An affectionate ending from Irish poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) to Lord Alfred Douglas in 1893.

Lover, Lover, Darling, Signed by Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) to F. Scott Fitzgerald in the spring of either 1919 or 1920.

Always, You could also try, "always" by itself. This is a favorite of mine -- one simple word that says a great deal.

With (something), With love, with admiration, with adoration, with endless devotion.

Love, Simple, yet always effective.

Love and luck, A cute way to end a platonic love letter. I saw this at the Country Music Hall of Fame -- a Patsy Cline (1932-1963) letter on display. It was a one-and-a-half-page, handwritten letter to one of her fans. Now that's a grateful celebrity! On a side note, one of Patsy's albums was entitled Sentimentally Yours (1962).

Grammar

In love letters it is the words and the emotions supporting those words that are the stars of the show, so you're welcome to take grammatical liberties. Keep in mind that grammar is a tool used to make thoughts come across as clearly as possible and also to insert spoken-word inflections into the written word. So don't set grammar aside to the point where some of your sentiments are lost.

I once dated a man who would e-mail me and consistently misuse all of his homophones (words pronounced alike but different in spelling and meaning). He'd tell me he got stuck outside in the pooring rain, or he'd ask weather or not my interview went well. Truthfully, this boy blue my mind and I, of coarse, was so taken with him that I found his mistake absolutely adorable. So again, grammatical inconsistencies in love letters are easily forgiven and oftentimes endearing.

How to Send

Whether handwritten or typed, my vote here is that the letter ends up on paper -- something to hold on to. I have no problem with typed letters because they'll take on a nostalgic charm of their own someday. I find old letters written via clunky typewriters as enchanting as a lover's poor penmanship. When it comes to delivery, the element of surprise is important. Slip it into a startling spot -- the kitchen table, the lunch bag, the driver's seat. I think it'd be fun to hand it to them before they get in the shower. If you're away from your love for a while, then you have the perfect opportunity to do it the old-fashioned way and mail it. That being said, I fully understand that love lends to many out-of-control moments, so if you can't wait and you must send your sentiments immediately, then e-mail away. Who am I to stop love in motion?

If You Receive a Love Letter

Be grateful and enjoy. Certainly let your enthusiast know you received the letter and how much it means to you (I hear sexual favors are widely accepted as a thank-you), but I wouldn't return with a giant gesture right away. That implies that you're doing it because they did it first, and love letters are most effective when given out of the blue.

One very sweet moment in great 1980s cinema comes at the end of Flashdance -- Nick is waiting outside for Alex after her big dance audition and hands her a bouquet of roses. She takes one of the flowers out of the bunch and hands it back to him. The moral here is, return a big gesture with a small one. Then wait your turn to surprise them with an equally moving love letter when they least expect it.

Continued on page 4:  Great Expectations

 

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