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Writing Books/letters into book?


Hello, I have a Bachelors degree (major History). I am 54 year old woman. I have many letters written by my family 1930s - 1950s. Many of these letters are during WWII (including letters to and from my 2 uncles who fought in Europe. One of these uncles was taken prisoner of war by Germans in Italy. Some of these letters were written while in prison. Many, many letters from my grandmother. These letters give day-to-day life of East-Texan farm life. My family was poor but very good hard working people. I really want to write a book based on these letters. But do not really know where to start. Help! Is this possible? Thanks for any information.

Hello Linda:

What a wonderful idea for a book. This kind of text - as you may know - is called by historians "primary material," and they depend on sources like the letters you have to create historical records.

You didn't say what you wanted to do with this book once you are finished. Much depends on the answer to that question; so much that I can't really advise you properly without knowing.

Another question (and I'm supposed to be answering here!)- do you want to let the letters tell their own story, or will you write a book around them? A great deal depends on the answer to that question, too.

What would really help you is a mentor. At my website,, I offer mentoring services at a very cheap rate: $2.50 per "lesson." What that buys you is guidance: - not generalized advice so vague as to be useless, but help tailored to your particular novel, from beginning to end. Writing a first book with no guidance practically guarantees that you will flounder, suffer writer's block, find it hard to stay motivated, etc.

In any case, I would really like it if you would come back with answers to the questions above. Then I will be able to advise you further.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 1350+ questions.

Pleaase do come back, Linda. And good luck with your book.  

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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