How to Write a Love Letter That Will Knock Their Socks Off

Lizz Schumer
·6-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Doth your loved one teach the torches to burn bright? If trying to write a love letter has you muttering, “wherefore art thou, oh muse,” you’re in good company. We’re willing to bet even William Shakespeare had a case of writer’s block as he stared down the blank page every now and then. But you don’t have to be a bard to write a sweet message that will make your recipient weak at the knees. To really hone in on the best way to write a love letter, we outlined the basics — then asked a few romance novelists and authors to share their tricks of the trade. After all, nobody knows how to convey the lovey dovies through words like someone who does it for a living. Here’s what they had to say.

How to Start Your Love Letter

We all know how intimidating it can be staring down that blank page, so let us help you out. Start off with a sweet salutation like, "Dear darling," "To my love" or invoking their special nickname so they know this letter is all about them. Don't be afraid to get mushy to really set the mood. Next, tell them why you're writing a letter instead of just signing a generic card. Maybe it's because you really want to put your feelings into words, you're so full of love that you can't hold back, or because you believe they're so special that they also deserve a personal letter. If you're writing the letter in honor of Valentine's Day, a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, this intro is a great place to do that. Then in the next paragraph or two, get right to the heart of the matter. The more personal, the better.

Stick to Specifics

A really effective love note, like any good piece of writing, is all about authenticity and specificity, says Devon Daniels, author of Meet You in the Middle. Instead of rattling off a laundry list of traits that could come off sounding insincere, pick a couple of things you love about them as an individual and go deep on those. For example, you might say, “Your commitment to helping others inspires me to be more giving,” or “I love that you’re never too busy to stop and play with our kids.” Once you focus on one trait, you’ll be surprised at how easily the words flow, Daniels says.

For Gina Hamadey, who wrote her husband a thank-you note each day for a month before writing her new book, I Want to Thank You, getting specific became even more important. She focused on things like her husband playing music in the house to set the mood for the day or making really good eggs and coffee. “The most effective love letter is the one that shines a light on the person and all they are doing,” she points out.

Get Personal

While reading others’ steamy missives for inspiration can get your own creative juices flowing, resist the urge to copy the greats. “Don’t try to sound like someone else. You don’t have to be poetic or flowery unless that kind of thing comes naturally,” advises Kristan Higgins, author of Pack Up the Moon, among many others. Instead, Higgins suggests thinking about the first time you knew this was your ride-or-die person or the foundational aspects of your relationship. “You might say, ‘I knew you were going to be important because you irritated me and made me laugh the very first time we met,’” she says. Or you might point out how they make you feel safe or listen when you share your struggles.

“I learned that the most romantic and giving and loving letters aren't necessarily the ones that are the most poetic,” says Hamadey. “I think everyone in a relationship wants to be fully appreciated by the other person.” The phrase she used most in her letters was “you take such good care of us.” Sometimes, it’s the simplest truths that make the biggest impact.

Dive Into the Details

When writing a love letter, you can’t go wrong by getting really granular about why you’re super into the person. This is no time to hold back. “The more specific you can be, the more romantic it will feel,” says Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of The Ex Talk. Instead of telling someone how much they always make you laugh, take it one step further by calling out a specific joke or instance that still makes you snort-giggle.

When Hamadey asked her husband Jake how the letters made him feel, he said it was the opposite of the old adage of missing the forest for the trees. “You and I say, ‘I love you’ a lot, and that is the forest, the love we have for each other,’” he told her. “This month refocused us on the nice trees that make up the forest.” When you focus on your own trees, you show the other person exactly how much they mean.

When in Doubt, List It Out

Both Daniels and Higgins love listing out the positive qualities that make your relationship really special. Daniels, who’s celebrating her 16th Valentine’s Day with her husband this year, says she might list out “16 things I love about you,” as a fun way to organize your thoughts. If your relationship isn't quite that old, you might list something you love for every month you've been dating, or some other number that's significant to the two of you. Making a list also gives you the opportunity to mix in some silly and serious angles, to balance out the mushy stuff.

Tailor It to Your Person

If you know your loved one likes a particular style, consider getting creative with it that way. “The best love letters contain the personality and essence of the writer,” says Uzma Jalaluddin, author of Ayesha at Last, and Hana Khan Carries On. “My husband is not a writer, but he loves rhyming poems. As a result, my love notes are more love poems — of the ‘roses are red’ variety,”

Because this is love we’re talking about, a little spice never hurts. Don’t be afraid to sauce things up, Daniels advises. Even if you’ve never written a steamy scene before, the effort goes a long way.

It’s the Thought That Counts

Writers know that the best way to beat the block is taking the pressure off. Don’t beat yourself up over writing a Pulitzer-worthy masterpiece. Even if you’re the worst writer on the planet, your loved one will appreciate a letter that really comes from your soul. “No matter what, your person will love that you put in the effort,” Higgins says. “That’s what love is, after all. Showing up and giving it your best.”

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