How to: First letter to a pen pal

Photo: Igor Stevanovic

Photo credit: Igor Stevanovic

You could be the most conversational person in the world, but given a blank piece of paper and a pen with the exciting yet daunting task of writing to a new pen pal, anyone could be at a loss for words. So, how do you go about writing that all-important first letter? I have gathered together some of my best tips below, to make the task a lot easier. Of course, if you’re really anxious about it, you could always ask your pen pal to write the first letter, but I am hoping that after you have read this article, you’ll be excited to grab your pen and paper and get writing!Cover the essential information

Depending on how much contact you have had online or in person beforehand, make sure your new friend knows your name, your age, your gender, and where you live in the world. Then tell them about a couple of your hobbies and interests, or perhaps about your family – whatever you fancy sharing at the time. You could even tell them about what you’ve been up to that week, if it’s quite interesting and varied.

Tell your pen pal where you found their details

This one might not apply if you found your new penpal on a website which uses internal messaging, but if you found their profile and address somewhere else, let them know where.

Keep it personalised

Don’t be tempted to send this pen pal the same first letter you’ve sent to everyone else you’ve ever written to. This is very obvious, as it includes no questions specific to their likes and dislikes, and the chances of getting a reply would be very slim. It would be a bad first impression to give someone, and also it would be no fun whatsoever to write, so don’t do it!

Don’t overdo it

It could be tempting to spill out your whole life story in your first letter – from your favourite instrument, to the unusual way you hold your knife and fork. Stop! Keep the first letter short, so it’s not overwhelming to receive, and give it time to get to know each other. Let your friendship blossom naturally; throwing a load of facts at someone in one go isn’t going to help.

Ask your pen pal some questions

Photo: gstockstudio

Photo credit: gstockstudio

This isn’t a soliloquy, so make sure to include some questions about your pen friend’s life too, and ensure you do this in every single letter you send to them. A letter with no questions not only comes across as quite selfish, but it is also difficult to reply to; give your friend some questions to answer – they’ll be happy, and you’ll learn more about them too. If you’re ever stuck for questions, take a look at this article, which features 75 questions to ask a pen pal.

Mention what you have in common

The chances are, you chose your new penfriend because you have something in common with each other – be that a fondness for jazz music, vegetarianism, a dog obsession, or a positive outlook on life. Mention this common ground in your first letter to grow a feeling of familiarity, and to learn more about the topic from their perspective when they reply.

Add a little extra

Pop something in with your letter to give it an extra dimension, if you fancy – perhaps a photograph or newspaper clipping of your town, the view from where you sit down to write letters, or even a tea bag if your pen pal lives abroad. Take a look at this article for 50 ideas of things you can put inside an envelope with your penpal letters.

In summary, just be yourself and show an interest in your new friend, and you’ll write a great first letter. Good luck and happy penpalling!

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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