I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy finding a letter in their mailbox from a friend or relative. But in this age of e-mail and text messaging, writing letters has become a lost art. If you’re feeling self-conscious about your writing, distracted, or out of your groove, penning a letter or two is one way to warm up your writing muscles.
If you frequently talk to or e-mail the person you’re writing to, you might think you don’t have much to say in a letter. And who wants to talk about the weather, unless there’s something drastic about it? Instead, think about how you might tell your friend a story about what’s happening in your life. Maybe you met an interesting person when you were out and about, experienced something funny in your workplace, or observed something odd on the way home from work. Be poetic. Think of just the right words to tell your stories. Read more
From the beginning of his writing career, Anton Chekhov was recognized for his originality. Writer Leo Tolstoy called Chekhov, “an incomparable artist…an artist of life.”
Chekhov wrote about ordinary events and the relationships of people in small towns and villages. He employed a variety of techniques, including pacing and word choices that paint imagery, create his characters and reveal their changing moods. His style, in stories such as, “The Lady with the Little Dog,” and “The Huntsman,” built a new literary form that was described as impressionistic by other writers of his time.
In letters Chekhov sent to his writing contemporaries, as well as his family, Chekhov often discussed his work and ideas about story craft. His advice is as relevant now as it was in the 1800s. In a May 10, 1886, letter to his brother Alexander, also a writer, Chekhov noted six principles of a good story.
- Absence of lengthy verbiage of a political-social-economic nature Read more
As much as writing is a solitary pursuit, most writers improve their craft by brainstorming ideas and learning the perspectives of other authors, editors, and mentors.
One of my favorite writers, Anton Chekhov, frequently corresponded with other writers to offer guidance and inspiration.
Here are a few pieces of encouragement and advice Chekhov wrote in letters to Russian writer Maxim Gorky in the late 1800s.
“You ask what is my opinion of your stories. My opinion? The talent is unmistakable and it is a real, great talent. For instance, in the story “In the Steppe,” it is expressed with extraordinary vigour, and I actually felt a pang of envy that it was not I who had written it. You are an artist, a clever man, you feel superbly, you are plastic—that is, when you describe a thing, you see it and you touch it with your hands. That is real art.
There is my opinion for you, and I am very glad I can express it to you. I am, I repeat, very glad, and if we could meet and talk for an hour or two you would be convinced of my high appreciation of you and of the hopes I am building on your gifts. Read more