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LETTER WRITING -- A FEW POINTS


Personal Correspondence 

All of us like to receive letters, but only a few of us like to write them and send out to friends, relatives and acquaintances.  But why we dislike writing letters?  The simple answer is that we don/t know how to write good and meaningful letters.  There are rare examples which show people writing wonderful and interesting letters.  We all know that letters are forever.  They are a great source of inspiration, solace, good advice, news, views and play such a significant role in our personal and social life.  There cannot be any substitute for letters.  They have, virtually wings and their reach is far and wide to every nook and corner of the globe.  Actually it is a very good asset to be able to write good and wonderful personal letters.  Letter writing is a two-way traffic which is full of pleasure, beauty and solace for both the sender and the recipient.  They are so effective and charming in their effect as nothing else can take their place, not even your personal visit.  They represent us so adequately, beautifully and purposefully as our personal ambassadors of goodwill, friendship and intimacy. 

But writing beautiful and relevant personal letters is not difficult either.  You have to just cultivate the habit with practice and perseverance.  We should never neglect replying letters and also frequently write them to our near and dear ones.  They bring us close to one another and bridge distances.  It is such an excellent way to communication and expression.  Therefore, everybody must know how to write friendly, warm, intimate and personal letters.  A letter is a personal visit on paper.  It is both an art and technique and not difficult to achieve. 

BE YOURSELF 

A letter should reflect your personality and its charm.  Therefore, be conversational and intimate.  Write as if you are talking with your friend.  Never be formal, cold and indifferent.  The secret of good and successful personal letter writing is that be always put yourself on the paper, be spontaneous and natural as far as possible.  Visualize the person to whom you are writing your letter, think of his hobbies. Interests, likes and dislikes and of your relation with him.  Use everyday speech, be conversational warm and personal. 

BE TIMELY 

It is important what you write and how you write, but it is also important when you write.  Time is the essence of good letter writing.  Never delay replies and social obligations.  Never miss opportunities and occasions.  Utilize them to your best advantages.  A belated letter of sympathy, solace, congratulations, advice, thanks or regrets may spoil the beauty and wonder of the whole exercise.  Always write your letters in a positive frame of mind.  It is time and positiveness that make all the difference. 

REMEMBER THE PURPOSE 

Always keep in view the purpose of your writing.  You must know well why are you writing.  What purpose is the letter going to serve?  You should be definite about your aim and object in writing your letters.  This identification of the purpose will provide your letter writing a definite direction, motivation and a cutting edge.  You must also be well aware of the person to whom you are writing.  You must know what is your relation with the recipient of the letter.  Different people would demand different approach and style of your writing.  Such an identification would lend your letter the required brevity, clarity and preciseness. 

BE BRIEF BUT COMPLETE 

Brevity is said to be the soul of wit.  It makes your letter spicy and adds punch.   If you want that the recipient should read your letter in whole and enjoy it, then you must certainly be short and exact.  Brevity helps in achieving simplicity and clarity.  Simple, brief and crisp letters are always read with interest, enthusiasm and eagerness and then cherished long.  These qualities make a letter natural relaxed and sincere.   In these days of hectic activity and tight schedule, people don’t have time for lengthy and verbose and boring letters.  Therefore, be brief and to the point and avoid repetitions and non-essentials.  Be economical with the use of your words and save time.  But it never means that you should not be complete.  Brevity is never desirable at the cost of completeness.  Be complete  but at the same time be clear, slim and to the point. 

Be natural, easy and use short sentences and simple words.  Always keep in mind to whom you are writing and what is your purpose of writing.  Short, simple, logical and relaxed writing has its own charm and attraction.  Short simple sentences and matching short and logical paragraphs would make your letters charming and beautiful.  Use right punctuation marks at right places.  It is wiser to underpunctuate than overpunctuate.  Right punctuation a good means to make your letters simple, easy, brief, intelligible and functional.  Don’t write the way others do in dull, routine and prosaic manner.  Let your personality be there, but avoid being self-conscious. 

In writing your personal letters your guiding principle should be, ‘write as you speak.’  Avoid such expressions, terms and phrase which you would never use in your conversation with a friend.   The rubber stamp words, phrases and expressions are to be always avoided.  It has an established fact that hackneyed terms, words and phrases ruin most of our correspondence.  Let your language be simple, spontaneous, easy, natural and flowing.  Be brief and direct in your communication and message.  Given below is a list of some words, phrases, terms and expressions which should be avoided in writing your letters.  Against these are given alternative words, phrases and expressions which you can always use and rely upon: 

INSTEAD OF THIS USE THIS 

Will you be kind enough to ---please 
At this point of time--- now 
Along the lines of---- like 
Consensus of opinion---consensus 
During the course of---- during 
Inasmuch as----since 
Few in number--few 
At all times---always 
At your earliest--soon 
Awaiting your esteemed instructions---we wait for 
Due to the fact---because 
I have pleasure in informing you-----I am pleased to  
We wish to thank you-----we thank you 
We extend our apologies-----we apologies 
Thanking you----thank you 
On a practical basis-----practically 
Until such time as----until 
Take into consideration-----consider 
The undersigned/ the writer------I / me 
At a time when-----when 
With the exception of----- except 
On a weekly basis------------weekly 
Personal in attitude------------personal 
In the event of if--------------, in case 
Under separate cover-------------separately 
In the great majority of cases--------------in most cases 
In spite of the fact that------------in spite of 

However, there cannot be any hard and fast rule in this matter and you should be your own judge in selecting your words, phrase and vocabulary.  Your aim should always be to achieve simplicity, clarity, brevity, completeness and economy of words and expressions—use only such means as to make your correspondence efficient, suggestive, imaginative and beautiful.  Make your writing crisp, spicy, vibrant, expressive and exact by using short and simple sentences as far as possible.  The use of long sentences with skill and efficiency is not possible for all of us. 

POLITENESS PAYS 

Politeness is a great human virtue.  It pays and costs nothing.  It is the hallmark of successful, and wonderful personal letters.  It reflects good manners and good breeding.  Your letters are your personal visit on paper.  They are your ambassadors, and so they have to be ever polite, courteous, sweet and pleasing.  You should always aim at civility in your correspondence.  You have to be effective and meaningful and also polite at the same time.  Even unpleasant things should be told in a pleasant and polite manner.  Manners make a gentleman.  Courtesy has a ripple effect and so in its turn begets courtesy.  You must put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of the letter and only then write your letters.  Even in complaints, you must be civil courteous, warm, personal, persuasive and sympathetic. 

NEVER WRITE ANYTHING WHICH YOU MAY REGRET LATER 

It is a very sound principle and policy not to write anything which you may have to repent and regret later.  Therefore, you should be careful about the content and style of your letter so as not to offend and displease the recipient.  Let there be no thoughtless and careless remarks, comments, observations and reactions.  What you have once written cannot be retraced and retrieved.  It becomes a permanent thing with the recipient in black and white.  It might have been there because of a slip of mind.  You might have made an unpleasant remark just in jest or you might have really not meant it as it appears to the reader.  But these are lame excuses and would not serve your purpose.  You would not be there with the recipient to explain your position and viewpoint.  It is a very sound and perfect advice, “think before you leap.”  Therefore think well and twice before you put it on the paper.  Never write anything which may be misunderstood and misinterpreted as rude, impolite, uncivil, ill-mannered and unkind.  After having drafted your letter, rewrite it and see that everything is in order as it should have been. 

PLAN YOUR LETTERS WELL 

You should plan your letter and write them in a relaxed and positive mood of mind.  Never be in haste, because haste makes waste and spoils the whole exercise of writing a personal letter.  Your letters need to be properly visualized organized and planned.  These steps ensure that your correspondence is good, successful, full of meaning and purpose.  Planning means that you have taken some trouble before putting your thoughts, ideas, views and reactions on a piece of paper.  It means that you are not casual in your approach and attitude in writing.  To convey your message effectively across to the reader, you should plan your letters.  It will give your writing a good foundation and consequently there would not be any redundant expressions, careless remarks, casual observation, vague language and platitudes.  Letter should never be written in a bad mood and negative state of mind.  You may jot down the points on a piece of paper and later use them to elaborate your ideas and views in a logical, convincing and persuasive way.  Planning also ensures accuracy, exactness and brevity.  It would go a long way to help you identify your purpose of writing your personal letters. 

THE BASIC PARTS OF A LETTER 

A personal letter represents you in a way that nothing else can do.  It is an organic whole with its different parts well defined and standardized.  A good and purposeful letter is always well-proportioned, balanced and symmetrical, its inner spirit and meaning should be well reflected in its make-up and physical appearance.  A well made up and organized letter consists of the following basic parts: 
1.         Heading 
2.         Date  
3.         Salutation 
4.         Body of the letter 
5.         Complimentary close and  
6.         Signature 


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