A Semi-Serious Guide to Writing a Love Letter

Examining the language of romance.

Chase Pellerin

Dear [Name of person you want to undress; spelling counts],

The start of the letter is the throat-clearing paragraph, the part where you state why you’re writing longhand. Likely you don’t have reliable Internet access and walked by one of those little perpetually going-out-of-business boutique letter shops that smell nothing like the inside of a post office — or you fucked up royally. Don’t say this. Say you saw something that reminded you of them. Expand on this memory. Pin down why exactly it’s such a great memory, one that you must admit you think on often, especially under full moons, and then bring it to the present. Today my waiter overturned a glass of water on a middle-aged woman. You always used to laugh at unfortunate people. I was just thinking I’d like to laugh with you forever…

Unless this is a particularly new relationship — in which case put down the pen and paper, it’s too much too fast — the next paragraph should be something of a list. Try to use polysyndeton, the five-dollar word for those sentences in the Bible that use and ever other word to achieve repetition, because with enough ands even the smallest list seems overly long. Bore them with their positive attributes. List out those unique things about the person, and try to shake off the feeling that by the simple act of listing them you’ll know for certain there is someone out there that fits the same description, alas, an even better description, because it’s no doubt true and something married couples everywhere manage to ignore. You should do the same. Not only do you laugh, but you make me laugh. You are observant and insightful and well read. You are bored by the same things as me and embarrassed by the same things…you get the idea.

Any good story has change — some personal growth or overcome obstacle. Static characters don’t win Oscars, and they also don’t get laid as often. So consider all those compromises you’ve made because of your relationship. All those times that what you wanted to do and what you did were very different versions of essentially the same thing — dinner and a movie filtered through temporarily incompatible and tear-smudged lenses. Cherry-pick the ones where, even after multiple hours of self-denial, you realized that they were in fact in the right. List these as lessons that you are so blessed to have been on the receiving end of. Write that you hope to learn more. It’s mostly true. That time where you showed me that my traditional, yearly Christmas dinner with my entire extended family was something I could do every other year, splitting time between our houses on the holidays — that was vital to my understanding of family.

Alright, judging from the typical Internet article, they are probably fatigued from reading some 250 odd words on a page. So wrap it up with a Hallmark-worthy outro. Be cheesy and sincere and actually say what you mean because it’s a miracle anyone agreed to put up with you, even on your good days.

With love,
[Your Name]

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