by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.
The Pressure’s On
It’s one thing for mere mortals to throw together a family Christmas letter using colorful Santa stationary and a dutiful recounting of the year.
But for writers, our families and friends expect more.
As “jedikaiti” pointed out in an Etiquette Hell discussion,
“I have a friend who writes WONDERFUL Christmas newsletters. Yes, a newsletter. About one person’s year. About 4 pages, and I looooove getting it every year.
She’s a professional writer, so she does have a distinct advantage there….”
(Even Santa gets all judgy and up in our grill.)
So here are a few tips to help you win the Pulitzer of Christmas Letters.
Start With A Hook
Hook A: Honesty
It is our pleasure to bring you the 2010 edition of the Brutally Honest Dashwood Family Christmas letter.
As an aside, this letter includes a phrase I’d love to steal:
Margaret is a heaping helping of crazy.
Hook B: It’s a very Redneck Christmas
Jeff Ward has given some thought to Christmas letters he’d like to see.
We did it! We finally got those indoor facilities installed in the doublewide.
Create a Relationship With Your Reader
You can count on Cracked to understand the delicate thread between author and reader, in their inspired Upper Class Christmas letter:
Dear Relations and House Staff,
As I do every year, let me start by saying, "You’re welcome."
Get To the Good Stuff Fast
Brandy understands the brilliance of netting it all out so you can “get that over with.”
Invite the Reader Into Your World
Joey, The Childless Mom, allows her readers to see the real-life, blunt version of “The Funniest Christmas Letter I’ll Never Send.”
In March, Hubby has his MESA surgery and I sent out the infamous, "WE HAVE SPERM" texts to our friends.
(I bet there’s a hashtag for that.)
Don’t Be Overly Impressed With Yourself (Humble is the New Black)
At PensFatales, Laurie Perry shares her Christmas Letter in a way that ensures we’re more impressed with her year than she is.
“The cats were cute and pooped a lot this year. I wrote a book, it’s OK. It comes out next year and is just a longer version of this letter with more complaining, but there is a great recipe for fried zucchini and some knitting patterns.”
Or Avoid Reality Altogether, Because Fiction is Oh-So-Much-Better
Hey, you could be anyone. Any Situation. Perhaps a woman receiving a gift from an admirer, as in, “12 Days of Christmas Correspondence.”
I went to the door today and the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree. What a delightful gift. I couldn’t have been more surprised.
With dearest love and affection, Agnes
Now there’s ten ladies dancing –
So, to sum up.
People expect a lot out of “real” writers. Go with your strengths. Write a Christmas letter that must be shared on blogs everywhere.
I just may quote you.
Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1) Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.