Traditionally, when you think of letters in novels, you might go back to the epistolary novel. The epistolary novel is a form of novel which is written in the form of letters, for example, Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela’, or Stephen Chbosky’s ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. Epistolary novels are written with the general commendations that you undertake in letter-writing; dates, salutations, etc.

This is why they might come off as extremely formal. But when it comes to writing a letter in a novel right now, the conventions might change. Language becomes less formal, there might be no salutations, references will be refined and taken from all over the place, change of tone, and many more things. So if you’re writing a novel that’s letters or you’re writing a letter in your novels, here are some tips to help you out:

Tips To Write Better Letters:


#1 Use a different font. If you’re writing a letter in your novel, it helps the reader to distinguish between the rest of the novel and a letter, if you use a different font. Or use italics, which is usually the preferred format. 


#2 Make a smooth transition between your text and the letter. The sentence preceding your email should give the reader a little bit of room to understand that they’re going to be diving into the letter. 


#3 Let your character’s personality shine through most authentically through the letter. They are written through the character’s perspective and have the opportunity to be personal and messy, because that’s the side effect of putting pen to paper (from the character’s POV). 


#4 Make your characters have a conversation through letters. Most of them are one-sided, with the reader never getting to know the receiver’s response (Perks of Being…). Instead, it would be worth trying out an experiment in which the letters become the source of conversation in a novel that is, for example, written in third person perspective. 


#5 Letters can be a delightful tool for unreliable narrators to give a new direction to the plot. If your narrators are interesting and engage the reader, they don’t have to be the bearers of truth. It becomes amazing to add suspense and mystery to your story that way.


Additional Pointers:


#1 Make it feel authentic and natural. If you’re writing a series of emails, you should strive to render the formatting of the subject line, address field, and signature blocks as realistically as possible. Or a fictional telegram should mirror the syntax of the real thing. Getting these details right will only add to the naturalism and authenticity of your story. 


#2 Ensure that every voice is unique. The format of writing letters can get repetitive and boring, and if your characters slip into that rhythm of writing the same kind of letters because of your bias, it will become very boring. Make notes about how each character will write the letter and consciously incorporate them into the novel. 


#3 Don’t explain yourself. If you’re writing a series of telegrams/emails into your novel, don’t feel the need to explain why you’re writing them, that might ruin their essence. If your story is compelling enough, the reader will piece together the story from them. 


#4 Try writing letters to your friends and family to understand your comfort with the craft. See how you write letters; do you have a voice that might interfere with your character’s? You don’t have to send them the letters, just write a ton to understand how authentically you might incorporate them into your novel. 


#5 Don’t write letters unless it’s absolutely necessary or just for the sake of writing one. Therefore, your letters should be conducive to your character’s development or to the plot. 


So there you have it! Writing letters can be termed as a lost art now, but incorporating that in your novel might give it a new life and it could be your way of reviving it? Follow PaperTrue for more writing tips.