I first heard of the letter game when I read the great Regency fantasy, Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. At the back of that book, Wrede and Stevermer talk about how they started writing the book and the process they went through. For them, it just started out as something fun between friends, but near the middle of it, they came to realize that it was more than just for fun and when they finished their story, they went back through the letters again and revised and it got published! Followed by two sequels (though neither are as good as the first).
I read that book when I was about 16, and I loved the idea of the letter game. I desperately wanted to do it, but I couldn't think of anyone to do it with. I thought about my brother, but our writing styles are so different. So, nine years have gone by, and I kind of forgot about the game.
Then maybe about a month, I reconnected with someone that was in my study abroad program when I went to London (which, tangent, was almost FIVE years ago! FIVE! That's amazing to me that such a long amount of time has passed since then.). Anyway, this girl (her name is Becky and she's fabulous. You can check out her blog here) and I started chatting on facebook (actually, commenting on a status update, meaning that the rest of facebook was inundated with our craziness) about period movies, and how we are both romantics, and the books we were writing and how hard it is to keep writing sometimes. And then there was a mention about us writing a story about Rye, the town were nothing happens. Then it was time for me to go to bed, but just like that, there was a spark in my brain, and I couldn't seem to shake it.
I remembered the letter game, and I thought, this is a perfect opportunity. I contacted Becky again and she seemed up for it, and it's been going great! It's completely no pressure, so if things start getting busy in our lives, it doesn't matter. It's just been this amazing experience for me, at least.
Here's a quick overview of what the letter game is: both people create characters, and a reason for them to be writing letters to each other. I have an idea of where I want my character's story to be, and Becky is the same with her character. And then, you just write!
I would definitely recommend this to any writer. It has definitely gotten me into the habit of writing again, after a long time of not doing it. And it's great on letting yourself let go of control over the story. If you've ever taken an acting class (and with my one acting class, I feel like I can say this now, because I totally an expert), you probably know a little bit about improv. The first rule to improv is you always say "yes." No matter what you thought you wanted to do, you always go along with what your improv partner says. This is exactly like what the letter game is: I may introduce a character or a situation, and then Becky gives some sort of information (like maybe that character is a cousin, for example), and I just go "Oh, cool, okay. Let's go with that." It's also great to have another person to go off of, it keeps my writing juices going, instead of just sitting in front of a blank screen trying to decide where the story is going to go next. I even decided to let go of one of my characters and pass him over to Becky (it was strange, it was like I pictured him walking off my page and onto hers.) That takes a lot of trust in someone, but in the past few weeks, I've come to trust Becky's writing. In fact, she makes me want to be a better writer, because she's so good at it. Her humor is amazing, and I'm also so excited to read her letters, because I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.
That was all kind of disjointed, but the conclusion is, this is a wonderful writing exercise. And it's been a great way to reconnect and get to know someone better. I really didn't know that Becky and I had so much in common, which is really sad. And now that I'm writing again with someone, I feel like I can start writing again in my own novel, because I'm getting in the habit. It's given me something more productive to do after work, which is good. Again, I got off of where I was going: if you have someone you can do it with, and you love writing, I would say, try out the writing game. There.