On Writing a Letter


A warm picture of a letter I'm writing attached to my clipboard holding all the leaves I've collected this fall.

I’ve spent the last month deep in autumn, Montgomery-esque sunsets in her short story, The Letters. It’s a must read if you’re an L.M. Montgomery fan. This epic tale echoes the romance of Romeo and Juliet, minus all the death, though there is one death--but thanks to the enchanting, level-headed, mysterious male lead, Alan Fraser, death is minimal.

I’m sure you’ve gathered from the title of this short story that letters are certainly involved and play a large role in the main plot. Not just any ole letters, but sweet, endearing, love letters that bring comfort, warmth, and purpose back to the life of our sad, lonely heroine, Isobel Shirley.

Alan Fraser’s letters are a work of art. So as a little study in the art of stationery and correspondence, below I’ve crafted a slightly satirical tutorial on writing a letter. I say slightly satirical as this tutorial is meant to make you smile a bit, but the template of Alan Fraser’s letters is a great place to begin your letter writing if you’re in a rut. Oh, I hope you find it entertaining and helpful for all you snail-mail advocates out there.

How To Write A Letter
by Alan Fraser

To begin, start your letter abruptly. Plunge into the middle of your “strain of thought without any preface,” it’ll add some intrigue.

Follow your epic opener with some intellectual stimulation.

To understand them fully I found it necessary to acquaint myself thoroughly with the literature and art, the science and the politics they touched upon. After every letter there was something new for me to hunt out and learn and assimilate, until my old narrow mental attitude had so broadened and deepened, sweeping out into circles of thought I had never known or imagined, that I hardly knew myself.

—The Letters, L.M. Montgomery

Make your letter as long or as short as you like. Keep it authentic

And when your letter comes to an end, sign off on a good note. “Be of good cheer” was an Alan Fraser favorite and sounds pleasant enough.

And lastly, keep on writing to her or him. Write more than one letter, and you don’t always have to wait for a response. Just keep writing to ‘em. Keep inspiring ‘em without expecting anything in return. Isn’t that just lovely.

A Tip for the More Complicated Recipient:

At best, if you have a strange history or perhaps your family history dictates tension between you and the recipient of your letter, then Mr. Fraser suggests leaving your letter unnamed and unsigned. This ensures that your letter isn’t read with a hostile bias.

In Mr. Fraser’s case, leaving his letters unsigned gave him the freedom to say whatever he wished to say without fear of judgement. And he was relieved in knowing that she’d be comforted by his words if they did not come from him.

Pretty sound letter writing advice from the kind-hearted soul of Alan Fraser, huh?

The Letters is part of the audiobook series Lesser Known Works that we (the JHBrattlof team) are crafting for you (and for us). It’s a free, no purchase, no ads exploration into classic literature. We’ve sought out lesser known stories from favorited authors hanging out in the public domain just waiting to be read (like L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Oscar Wilde, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, goodness and so much more). We want to provide an easy access and free experience for you.

If you’re a student with 800+ novels to read this semester, or learning English for the first time and want to immerse yourself into the language, or perhaps you’re just a fan of audiobooks and classics like me, then this was created with you in mind.

I want to invite you to the Lesser Known Works newsletter. We’ll notify you of any new releases and current projects we’re working on. You’ll also get a chance to voice your opinion on upcoming projects, win trets as a thank you, and sneak into some behind the scenes on each project.

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful week. Enjoy writing letters to friends + family--and maybe even receiving some from those secret admirers “across the gulf of strangerhood.”

Be of good cheer,