Saturday, 18 January 2020

Fundamentals of the written word, part two . . .

This week I thought I would focus on letter writing and the fundamentals of each kind of letter you might want to write, and there are many.  I can remember being taught at school how to write such things as thank you letters, invitations, etc. I am not sure that they teach children these things any more.  Its a shame if they don't as letter writing is an art form that we really don't want to lose.  Or, I don't want to lose at any rate.  So here we go!   

Writing the Perfect Letter  

A letter should read as if the writer is sitting right beside the reader, as if in conversation with them.  Ordering your thoughts before you start to write is the first step you should take.  If necessary make a small list of the things you wish to communicate on a piece of scrap paper.  Order your thoughts before comitting them to the good paper.  Haste makes waste.  It should be chatty and fun.

Watch your spelling and your grammar.  A thorough proof-read of the finished letter is a necessity. 

Letter paraphanalia should include your address, the date (in full is nice ie. May 1st, 2020) along with a warm greeting such as "Dear ...", or "Dearest ...".It should never be "To." 

Your sign off or signature should match your relationship with the intended recipient. When writing to older people formality is nice. "Best wishes"  is a good one. Signatures beginning with things such as "Yours faithfully" or "Yours sincerely" should be left for business communications.  When closing a letter to someone very close, it is entirely acceptable to close with a "Love,"

Avoid PS Bombshells if you can.  Postscripts should never be too heavy and should never be tagged onto solemn missives.   


Letters are (or should be) keepsakes, so a little bit of neatness goes a long way and will give any letter the chance of permanence.  Doctor's scrawls are so not alluring, and very inconvenient to decode. Your penmanship doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be readable. Your layout should be straight and well spaced.  If writing in a straightline is a problem for you (As it is for me) use an undersheet of lined paper to help keep things in line. 

It needn't be showroom-perfect. Corrections can be quite endearin if neatly and lighty executed.  Anything scratched out or Tippexed is ugly and suspicious.  Re-write if it becomes dog-eared, riddled with mistakes, or coffee/tear stained.  

Letters can and may be read over and over again, so do think very carefully before you send anything too confessional/secretive.  Also sending letters with no purpose to friends who live quite nearby is considered to be a bit odd, especially if you socialise with them quite regularly.  

Thank You Letters 

As an endangered species, most hosts or donors are pleased with any kind of recognition, be it a text or a phone call, e-mail, card or letter.  Text messages are fine for casual dinners, but a lovingly executed handwritten thank you letter is the way to go for a more formal occasion and an absolute necessity when one has given you a gift.  Gratitude should never be over-stated when talking about a cup of tea and a piece of cake  This can end up looking insincere or desperate, but a simple thank you will go a very long way for any occasion or gift.   I do believe that people are losing the art of saying thank you in modern times.  That's a very sad thing to me. 

Thank you letters should be warm and witty and to the point!  Begin by stating how much you loved/enjoyed/liked your X, Y or Z . . .  even if you really didn't Not liking it should have no bearing on the act. 

If you have been sent money, never express the quantity. 

If you have been showered with gifts, each should be personalised with its own letter.  Its very uncouth to send out generic, assembly line thank you's for gifts, and also very obvious that you are not truly very grateful. 

Final point, thank you letters should be sent out within a week if possible, although in all truth it is never too late to send one.  Also, when in doubt, a written note is always well received. 

Correct Cards

Some selflessness should be considered when sending out postcards. No bragging about the endless hours you have spent luxuriating pool side next to turquoise waters.  No need to try to cram details about your whole holiday into a small space either. Be witty and charming. You may include one or two details, but save the whole story for when you return.  "Enjoying the scenery."  "Wish you were here." "The food is great." etc.  Those are fine, but do try not to recycle the same message to each recipient.   Its much nicer if you can personalise each one, and means something, especially if you are sending postcards to people who are likely to know each other and compare notes. 

Christmas Cards are the perfect and most efficient way of getting in touch with people you don't see very often or who live a distance away.  "Dear X, Happy Christmas from Y" is highly impersonal and somewhat of a waste of time and effort, implying that the recipient is merely a tick on a long list.  Start early and personalise each message if you can.  It needn't be a long letter, just a few words that are personal to just them will suffice.  


Christmas circulars can smack of self-praise or indulgence, so do be judicious about who you send them to.  Oftimes a quick phone call is much better, but if you can't manage that then a chatty newsletter might be defensible. Do send them out cautiously however as in a lot of cases a few personal handwritten lines of news are much better received.  And if you do send newsletters to all and sundry, a short handwritten post-script, just a few lines at the bottom, totally tailored and personalised for each recipient goes a long way towards making them feel special. 

I do confess I personally love Christmas Card newsletters from people I don't hear from very often, and am thrilled when I see that they have taken the time to add a few lines just for me at the bottom. 

Letters of Condolence 

It is in very poor form to dilly dally about when it comes to letters of condolence.   They should be written promptly and by hand.  E-mails can be deemed as very in-appropriate in such situations and phone calls should be reserved for those who are very close friends. 

Letters should acknowledge the loss, include the deceased person's name along with a sincere expression of sympathy.  A personal anecdote (if the person was well known to you) is usually well received.  The tone should be  genuine and warm, not hysterical or overly-sentimental.  Keep it brief; a short paragraph will do.  This is not the time to indulge in your writing skills.  You can save that for a few weeks or months down the road.  I received a lovely letter last year from someone several months after my mother died and it was most appreciated at that time.  In all honesty, soon after someone has lost a loved one, there are usually a great many cards received (thankfully), so many in fact that the simplicity of sentiment will be much more appreciated at that time. 

Only offer to help the bereaved if it is appropriate, you know them very well and if you are genuine in your offer of help. 

Letters of condolence are never very easy things to write, but if you keep them genuine and the tone caring and respectful, that is enough.  

E-mail Communications 

The root of most e-mail offence is time, or lack of it.  We are busy, and sometimes lazy; we like shortcuts so our mantra can often become, "That will do,"  An e-mail sent in haste truly risks becoming polluted with un-intended insult.  E-mail vernacular is  less considered than the written word, but we are often inclined to say in an e-mail what we wouldn't or couldn't say face to face.

While e-mail is convenient, it can also be an effective means of avoidance.  Don't forget to also talk.

There is no great mystery to writing good e-mails. Just try to view them via the eyes of the receiver and read them through again before clicking send.  ALWAYS carefully check who is in the "To" box.  (You cannot imagine the number of e-mails I have gotten through the years by accident that were not meant for my eyes to see.) It is better to check and avoid later embarassment. 

Pay attention to the subject box.  If you are replying to old e-mails with a new topic, avoide the "Re:Re:Re:" thread, and delete all the detritus that has gone before.  Make is just like new.

Be fastidious about name spelling.  Watch the length; two words is much too short, but a treatise is far too long. Top and tail conmuniques with salutations; dear or hello; thanks where thanks is due; bye; best wishes; kiss-kiss. Follow your correspondent's lead if available.   


Writing proper sentences (and complete words!), capitalising titles and ensuring good grammar and spelling command respect.  Don't forget text written in capital letters is seen as shouting, but putting everything in lower case looks lazy. 

A little humour is a useful tool, but beware of using sarcasm. Don't overdo the exclamation marks!!!!!! 

AVOID CHAIN MAILS. (Yes, I was shouting there!)  Not many people actually read them in all truth. 

If you are busy be apologetic but not dismissive.  Take a moment to write something, communicate.  Response time should be within two days unless you have a very good excuse.

Remember e-mails provide no privacy. Beware of people reading over your shoulder, insecure servers and IT departments, etc. E-mails can also be read over and over again and are traceable so never say anything that you cannot defend.  Always take a moment before hitting "send" in anger, delete any rashness.  Ditto with sending love-mails. 

If you send an e-mail in error or to the wrong person, hit re-call, then immediately phone them, grovel and persuade them not to read it and to destroy it.  (Let it be noted that the chance of that happening is very slim as most people are far too curious for their own good)  😓😓 

And there you have it, the fundamentals of the written word, part two. 

A thought to carry with you  . . .

° * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★★ 。* 。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門 ★

You will never speak to anyone 
more than you will speak to yourself
in your head. Be kind to yourself.
~Anon  •。★★ 。* 。•。★★ 。* 。 

There is another smaller sized recipe in The English Kitchen today. Today it is a Golden Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting.  A six inch layer cake perfectly sized for the smaller family.

We popped over to see Doreen yesterday, but there were that many people there (Doctor, nurse etc.) we didn't really get to see her.  Your continued prayers are much appreciated.  We will try to see her again today if possible.

Have a wonderful Saturday! Don't forget! 

═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════ ⊰✿░G░O░D⊰✿⊰L░O░V░E░S⊰✿⊰░Y░O░U░⊰✿
═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════ 

And I do too!  


  1. Good morning, Marie. You have some very good advice about letter writing. I, too, love the yearly Christmas letter especially when a family photo is included. I have a friend who started including family photos when their first grandchild arrived. The arrival of a grandson and a granddaughter in 2019 brings the number of grands to 13. It's fun to see how they change from year to year. I love knowing that your mom, your sister, you and now me all have the same pretty English robin hanging in our window. I guess you could say we are birds of a feather flocking together, kindred spirits, indeed. It hasn't started snowing here yet. I'm going to make your fresh salmon chowder today. And I'm awfully tempted to make the chocolate cake, too. That icing looks delicious! I'm glad Doreen and Billie have good people around them. Hope you get to see her today. It's time to make a mug of Ovaltine and see if the paper has arrived. Today I'm going to choose Susan Branch's Winter mug, a gift from a friend. I'm looking forward to a new post from her soon. She and Joe have been ill with winter colds but I think she is feeling better. Enjoy your weekend, Marie. Hugs, Elaine

    1. Oh I would have loved to buy all of Susan's mugs. I have the first one and I love it. (The bluebird one. I adore bluebirds on anything.) Rather huge for someone who isn't overly fond of hot drinks, but I just love it. I love your thought about us being birds of a feather, flocking together. Pleased that you enjoyed the salmon chowder. Its a lovely recipe if I don' say so myself. Love and hugs to you Elaine. Sad time for us. Will e-mail. xoxo

  2. How fun to read about the fundamentals:)Thought of you as Céline Dion sang for her mom last night..
    How nice that you went over to Doreen's before all this.
    Pinned and printed your cake:)Smaller is in:)

    1. Oh how I wish I could hear that. Celine has a beautiful voice. The cake is fabulous! xoxo

  3. Such good advice in your post today, and it's good for all written words. So often I type before thinking and regret it later, but once it's written there is no taking it back. Same with every post we make on blogger. it's there forever.

    1. That's true Pam. I have learnt to be more judicious with what I share these days. I don't bare my soul as much as I would like to, lol. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday! xoxo

  4. Hi Marie~

    I can't even remember the last time I got a hand written letter. I think my mother wrote me a letter before she moved back to Idaho from Arizona...that was at least 15 years ago. I used to love writing letters, and would always check out the new stationary at the drug store. Do they even make stationary anymore?! I didn't send out Christmas cards this year...maybe I should rethink that for next year. I have been wanting to buy a new fountain pen, because I love writing with a good pen. I loved this post, definitely food for thought!

    Much love to you! XOXOXO

    Hugs and Love,

    1. If you message me your address Barb I would love to write you a letter! I bought some cute stationary on Amazon and am itching to use it. Love and hugs to you always. xoxo


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