Intro to Open Letters

For those of you who aren’t familiar, my origin piece(s) are text messages between my friends from home and I about my roommates over the past few years. For the most part, they’re complaints and stories about my eventful living situations. My first genre was satire, which did not pan out, so I’d figure I’d try to stick to something a little more achievable. For this next piece I want to attempt to write an open letter.

I first became familiar with the genre when I had to write one for my 125 final. I wrote this one to Donald Trump’s tie and genuinely enjoyed doing so. I’ve read many, namely from newspapers that my parents have forced me to read and from McSweeney’s.

I’ve always found these works enjoyable. My dad made me read a few political ones over the year, typically regarding acts of war and legislation, so I’ve always been intrigued by them, such as this one to former President George H.W. Bush:

My favorite one so far is this one: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-open-letter-to-white-people-in-need-of-a-token-brown-person . It’s an open letter about being the token minority and it resonated with me because for most of my childhood, I was one of the few people of color in my classes. I grew up in one of the few conservative areas in California and the experience was not one unfamiliar to me. All my neighbors were white and I didn’t make my first ‘minority’ friend until I was in the eighth grade. I like the emotional nature of this piece and I like its message.

Typically open letters are written to change something or bring attention to it (https://www.mindmybusinessnyc.com/how-to-write-the-open-letter/). Personally, I would just like to bring attention to some of the more humorous, unconventional aspects of my living experiences since 2017. Similarly, the person writing the letter must establish ethos within their piece, or else it loses its credibility and becomes less enjoyable. They’re supposed to be more concise and offer some type of solution or plea in response to what they are trying to draw attention to.

Another source, (https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/open-letter/) noted that these are supposed to be intimate, emotional appeals because of their public nature. When done correctly, this same articles states, they aren’t “simply for the person to whom it’s addressed.” It also notes that these are usually done in these particular fashions:

  • A humor or satirical piece addressed to a celebrity or person in the news.
  • A piece of constructive criticism (or praise) to a politician, either international or local.
  • A letter to a thing — one of your fears, a habit you’d like to break, etc.
  • A note to yourself at a specific age/year in the future.

My hope is that my piece would/should fall into the last bullet point.

4 thoughts to “Intro to Open Letters”

  1. I really like this choice of genre in relation to your origin piece. I think that it will probably end up humorous to some extent, but will really give the audience insight into these specific periods in your life!

  2. Tatiyana, I love this genre and how well thought out your ideas are! (An open letter to Trump’s tie is hilarious.) I’m really excited to see what you do with it. One question I have is how exactly you plan to frame your roommate issues into something you want to tell yourself in the future.

  3. What I gathered from your blog post was that you want to use the open letter genre to write to yourself about your feelings surrounding The Great Roommate Debacle! I think even though you didn’t like how the satire experiment turned out, you could still make an open letter witty enough to make the reader crack a smile. I love that you chose this genre because I actually frequently write open letters and save them to look back on in the future. I can’t wait to read!

  4. Hey Tatiyana,

    As I have told you many times in our group meetings, I think your topic of roommates and the comedy that comes with it is awesome! I love how you chose the genre of open letters—I think there are so many amazing ways to create these open letters portraying your experience living with these girls. One question I have is how many letters are you going to be composing or is it going to be one big letter of a combination of these experiences? I’m really excited to see how this turns out! 🙂

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