Hi there! It’s Belette, former camp counselor of the beloved Troop Silvertongue, French Iggle, and today, I’m going to try to teach you how to write a special letter… To your Nemesis.
This workshop has initially been done at the Geekopolis convention in Paris (read more here and here): the idea is to pick up the role of a well-known bad guy or good guy, and to try to write their letter to their arch-nemesis. For example, you could be the Joker trying to explain his motivations to Batman. Or Snow-White telling the Evil Queen she wants to forgive her. You can be whoever you want, and I’ll show you how to write easily a well-constructed and interesting letter. This will be a role playing game as much as a real writing workshop that will teach you how to write a simple letter in everyday life.
You can write this letter on your own or join us on the forums to be paired with another Iggle as a classic “couple” of enemies. This way, you’ll be writing a letter AND getting a letter, which is much more fun!
We’ll start with the choice of the character: who will you be? I’ll list some examples of famous Nemeses on the topic dedicated on the forums so you’ll be able to pick one.
Now let’s have a look at the template: it is meant to help you see how the letter is basically constructed. Don’t see it as an obligation! It’s like a table you’ll fill with everything you have in your head. This way, you won’t forget to put anything in your letter.
1 – Time and place
As an Iggle, you already know that it is most important to write the date on your letter. It’s very useful in many ways, as for archiving the letters. A letter might be read again in a few years! The place can also be important, especially if you are writing from a different country or if you travel a lot.
It might be a good idea if you and your nemesis wrote the letter at the same moment of your mutual story. For example, if you choose to be Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi, you could decide to send a letter a few months after your terrible battle. It would be interesting!
Before you start writing…
Now, before you start writing, it’s time to decide what you are going to say in this letter. You have the context and the characters; you need a motivation. What is yours? Why exactly are you writing to your Nemesis? What do you want from him/her? You need one clear motivation. It can be anything: set a trap, willingness to forgive, to scare them, to help them…
2 – Salutation
How will you salute your worst enemy? Because you obviously can’t say “Dear Draco Malfoy” if you are Harry Potter. Or you could, but then, the tone of the letter would have to be very sarcastic! Do you want to be polite? You can only say “Mr Smith” or “Mrs Maleficent”. If you don’t want to, you can only give their names. Or use a nickname: “Dear stupid flying pet” could be a good joke from the Joker.
3 – Beginning
For a start, you should explain why your had this idea of sending a letter. This part of the letter has to make your Nemesis curious enough to continue: they probably wont want to read your letter when they discover that their enemy send it. So you’ll need to catch their eyes before they throw it in the fire!
“Our relationship has its ups and downs, but I think we can make it, we can be friends, and that’s why I sent this letter” will maybe soothe Regina long enough for her to read Snow-White’s letter. “I don’t even know if you can read me -do you even have eyes?- but I have the deep feeling that you will understand how important it is for us both to communicate” could maybe be useful for Ripley if she writes to the Alien.
You’ve got the idea ? For this introduction, don’t explain too much, just write 1 sentence and be brief.
4 – Presentation and context
Maybe your Nemesis knows you very well, like The Master and The Doctor. Maybe they don’t. I don’t think Mario really knows Bowser. They’ve met, they fought, but maybe they don’t even know each other’s names? This is where you’ll have to introduce yourself if you feel it’s necessary. Just write 1 or 2 sentences and don’t forget to remind them the context of your last meeting (if you ever met).
For example, if Frodo wanted to write a letter to Sauron, he could say: “You saw me the other day, I know that, but you have no idea of who I am. I am Frodo Baggings, and we have never met. Yet.”
The context (last meeting, what happened to you before writing the letter, what is going to happen…) can help the reader figuring out why you choose this moment to write.
5 – Express your ideas
Remember, you decided upon a motivation for this letter. It is time you use it. You’ll now have to find 2 to 3 arguments to get what you want. Those 2 or 3 ideas are the things you’ll use to make them uncomfortable, angry, sad, or even to try to reach their heart. Ask yourself: what can I say to him/her?
If I was the Doctor and wanted to convince the Master to join me, I’d use the fact that they are alone, last of their kind. Also, that he experienced life with humans, too. He wouldn’t admit it maybe, but he liked it. So why not protect them instead of hurting them?
This the part of the letter where you can talk freely to your Nemesis and express yourself, but never forget your motivation.
6 – Questions
You might think your letter is over. It’s not, because you must expect an answer and since you’ve so far talked only about you, your reader probably won’t have a thing to say. That’s why you should ask him/her questions! If they are relevant enough, maybe your Nemesis will write you back.
“Will you tell me, honestly, why you hate me so much?” Harry Potter can ask to Professor Snape. Or “Why are you even trying to rescue this stupid girl?” could be a question asked by Maleficent to Prince Philip.
Up to 3 questions will be enough to trigger an answer.
7 – Politeness formula
Although I’m not used to English politeness formulas, I know most of them do not suit a letter to your Nemesis. You’ll have to be creative, and even though you can also simply say “sincerely”, it’s better if you figure out a funny way of being “polite”. I don’t see Moriarty saying things like “take care” but he could say something to Sherlock like: “Take care until I find you”.
8 – Signature
At last! This is the end of the letter, the real end. By signing it with your name, you’ll validate that you wrote this. Your signature can also tell how close to your reader you are. By putting only your first initial, you can make them guess who you are instead of telling them. By telling your titles like “Kerrigan, Queen of blades”, you try to impress your Nemesis. Finding the right signature will end your letter perfectly.
Do you have any questions? You can mail me at troopsilvertongue[at]gmail.com and I’ll be glad to help you. You can search for inspiration by reading the 4 examples of letters that have been written during IGGPPC’s workshop at Geekopolis.
Now that your letter is over, I’d really like to read it! You can either post it on the forum thread or send it by e-mail if you don’t feel comfortable sharing it. Happy writing!