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Playing Around With a Story Line in Different Literary Genres and Literary Modes
Hi all you Writers and Readers out there,
Writing Leap #18 Writing Letters
It’s so rare, alas, for most of us to think of taking up our favorite free-flowing pen, smoothing out a piece or two of nice stationery and sitting down to write pages to a friend. But wouldn’t it be great to reach into our mailbox and find such a letter? Recognize the familiar handwriting right away and feel the anticipation of a newsy chat?
So people. What about bringing great pleasure to a friend and writing them a nice, long, lively handwritten letter on some special paper?
Or–for you fiction writers making up a story in letter form?
Epistolary Fiction, stories told through letters and journals, was wildly popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some say Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, a collection of fictional letters written in 1740, marked the beginning of the novel as a literary form in English. As a writing technique little else beats the dramatic, in-the-moment, intimate glimpses into a writer’s thoughts and feelings as those evoked in letters. Fast forward to the 21st century.
Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer, just out in February, 2013, is a novel inspired by author Flannery O’Connor and poet Robert Lowell. It’s their story told in letters.
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, 2003, is a middle-grade novel written as free verse entries by a young boy named Jack. It’s a charming one.
Here’s the Story Line for your Letter
Memories (long lost or immediate)
Here’s my go at epistolary fiction. Picture this handwritten on pale blue stationery.
Hello my friend Alice,
Wait until you hear what just happened in our backyard! Maggie and I are still giggling and hugging about it.
We were gazing at some early snowdrops that pop up in the mountains here (Maggie remembered that you love those flowers too) when all of a sudden–gasp–a new, little spotted fawn ambled towards us on his unsteady, spindly legs. Oh, the thrill of it, Alice.
Maggie walked towards him on her chubby three-year-old-legs. She knew to be calm and gentle. (I love this part of her.) She knew not to hold out her hand. She just looked in the fawn’s huge eyes and cooed, “Sweetie little fawn.” The fawn stared at Maggie and came closer to her, twitching his little white tail.
And can you believe this? They gazed at each other for a full minute, separated by a whisper.
I glanced into the woods and there was the mama standing by a leftover patch of snow. Watching. Just like I was. Just in case. The mama deer rustled ever so slightly and the baby deer skiddled off and nestled into her side.
This was an epiphany, Alice.
All our love to you, David and the twins all the way up there in the mountains of Vermont.
xxxxx Nora and Maggie
Happy letter writing everyone,
LINKING THE ARTS
A Good Word: Verve. As in vitality, aliveness. Verve in letter writing can be a soft glow or a blazing fire, but the energy is always there.
A Favorite Book
Selected Letters of Madame de Sevigné, Penguin Classics, 1982. Madame de Sevigné is known as one of the world’s most extraordinary and vivid letter-writers. Written in the seventeenth century her letters bring us into the sumptuous court of Louis XIV with humor, melancholy, and lots of pepper. I find her letters irresistible.
An Interesting Painting
Woman Writing a Letter by Pierre Duval-Lecamus
Is he seriously looking over her shoulder and dictating what she is allowed to write??? Madame de Sevigné wouldn’t tolerate that for a mini-second.