How to Write a Letter

It is often said that without smartphones and tablets, people on public transport would talk to one another. False. Before instant messaging, the primary mode of communication was the letter.

The writer fondly remembers the beautiful prose and vivid salutations exchanged between commuters on the 7:36 Upfield train to Flinders St. Alas! Technology intervened and the art of letter-writing is now all but lost.

In a bid to save the written word, we have provided a step-by-step guide to writing the perfect letter.

Step 1. Choose a recipient. Knowing their name will help the letter reach them directly. Knowing their address can be just as important if the recipient is not present.

Step 2. Choose a greeting. "Dear" is a popular option, although a more curt draftsman may offer nothing more than the recipient's name.

Dear Mother,

Or, for curt draftsmen:


Step 3. (Optional) A subject header will concisely state the matter or matters to be discussed in the body of the letter. It may or may not include a punctuating device.

Stewart Candy: Ear infection

Step 4. (Ah, readers will be trembling with anticipation) The body of the letter. This step has been split in thrain for clarity.

Step 4a. The opening. If the circumstances dictate, explain your position in society and your reason for writing.

I am a regular customer of your facility, having admitted myself on four occasions and having once been committed by the State of Victoria.

Step 4b. The subject matter. Often referred to as "the heart" of a correspondence, this is where you tackle the matters in issue.

Your loud snoring is upsetting the peace on this quiet morning train. I am in agreement with other commuters in submitting that you have a serious medical condition which likely requires immediate attention. Indeed, at the time of writing this particular sentence you appear to have ceased respiration.

Step 4c. The closing may provide a final thought for the recipient’s consideration.

Ultimately, though, adult circumcision is a matter requiring thorough consideration, and the advice provided above should not be construed as medically sound or accurate in any other sense of the word.

Step 5. A sign-off is the shortest yet most complex part of any letter. Be warned: complacency is every writer's downfall in this regard. Too formal and you're a prude:

Mr Candy

Too informal and, well, see for yourself...

Kind regards

Apologies for any horror you felt at this forwardness, but shock is a valuable learning technique.