Let's look at two key features of personal letter - layout and content
Although there is more than one correct way to write a letter there are some universal rules.
- even in friendly informal personal letters you must put your address top right
- date should always be under address
- opening greeting can use first name only, for example. 'Dear Mum' or Dear Polly'
- ending can be informal, for example 'Best wishes' or 'Much love', and be followed by your first name only
The content of a personal letter will depend very much on the purpose of the task.
You may be asked to write a letter to -
- describe an event, place
- ask for information or a favour
- persuade someone to do something
- pass on details or instructions to someone
Whatever the purpose there are some general rules about a personal letter.
- always remember that you (probably) are supposed to know the person to whom you are writing
- keep that person in mind and don't tell them things they will already know about you
- add a few bits of personal chat, usually at the start of the letter, to make it seem genuine
- make sure main part of letter relates to task and that you use appropriate tone. Don't be bright and cheerful if writing to pass onbad news.
Task 1: planning to write a film review
As with any kind of writing, you need to start by identifying your genre, purpose, audience and style.
The first step is to get familiar the genre (or form), so if you are planning to write a film review, start by reading some published film reviews. You can find film reviews on the BBC website, listed according to film genre.
Notice what each review is doing and ask yourself what is the purpose of each review?
A film review should have a number of purposes:
- To inform. The review needs to tell people who is in the film, who it is by and where or when readers can see it.
- To describe. The review should describe the story, characters and some of the action - without spoiling the plot or giving too much away!
- To analyse. A good review gives an opinion on whether the film is good or not and why.
- To advise. Finally, the review should tell the reader whether or not to go and see the film.
These different purposes will give you a basic structure for your writing.
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