Writing a Book from Love Letters

06 Mar

By Margaret Kell Virany

I can’t give advice about falling in love, but I can tell you how to write a book that shows readers how it’s done. If someone’s old love letters fall into your hands, and you wish to write, look at them as coupons to be redeemed.

Take them to the store of your memory which is open 24/7, even while you sleep. Work at your computer every day during the hours when you are at your brightest.

The onionskin love letters I had were in two file folders, half in my mother’s handwriting and half in my father’s, 72 in all. I say “had”. After my book was done, they were burned by a beloved, trusted family member silently succumbing to Alzheimer’s.

1. Don’t ever think the letters can be published as is.

2. Sit down and be their first patient, receptive reader.

3. Open separate, numbered chapter files in your computer under “Love…”. The order of the letters is already chronological, so each chapter is a time span.

4. Consider what genre you are writing in – Nonfiction or Fiction? History or Personal Memoir? Biography or Autobiography? Confession? Love Story?
This is important. It gives your material a theme, a slant, an organizing principle, and eventual title.

5. Judge what’s most interesting in the letters and type quoted segments into the appropriate chapters. The continuity will come later, as you are inspired in your sleep.

6. Make a note of things to be checked or researched on the Internet, in photos, from surviving friends and family members. Find out more about well known people or events cited, unanswered questions, contradictions, intriguing assumptions, contrasts to today, etc.

7. Pin down the facts. Return to the drawing board. If you misconstrue one thing, your whole story will become skewed and false. Even a work of fiction must be convincing.

8. Start back at the beginning each day, always looking for a better word and making sure you keep up the pace. If your attention droops you are boring the reader and that’s the worst sin.

My personal memoir based on love letters is read around the globe, always to high praise. Its shorter companion has been as high as #77 in the Kindle store.

If I market it well it will stay a bestseller. The hard copy of the memoir sells like hotcakes at book fairs, malls and through word-of-mouth. Meeting readers is a source of my writer’s joy.

A Book of Kells, is free March 13-17 as a St. Patrick’s Day promo in the Kindle store. 

Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, is free in the Kindle store March 18-19

Hyper Smash


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One response to “Writing a Book from Love Letters

  1. Sally tucker

    June 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I am thinking if writing a book based on my parents love letters and their fantastic life together they have both now succumbed to alzheimers and vascular dementia and I came upon their letters and mothers secret diary while clearing out their house . I love my parents very much and would love to write a book and donate the money to keep up their extortianate carehome fees . Any help would be greatly appreciated .


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