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Writing Books/Welcome advice on first FICTION book


QUESTION: Hello.  I've been a technical writer for some years and am planning on writing my first non-fiction book.  I'm a history buff and am considering a book (first in a series?) about a professional genealogist who, with the help of a wide range of characters found among his historical society compatriots, helps people find out information about their past, for a variety of reasons: greed, fame, finding lost love, etc.  I have not written one word yet... just developing story lines and characters in my head. As I do, I am asking people such as yourself for any insight or guidance you can offer. If this is too broad, I can certainly focus my question on, say, character development or marketing.  But being a beginner, I'll happily abide by whatever you say.  Thanks. -- Curtis

ANSWER: Hello Curtis:

I am a bit confused whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction. Does this genealogist really exist? If he doesn't, if you are making him up, you are writing fiction. Before I can advise you, I need to know for sure.

Please come back and let me know, and ask further questions.

Thank you for writing!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am SO sorry for the confusion.  I meant FICTION.  I knew that and I have no idea why I said what I said.  Sorry about that.  Can we try again please?

Hello Curtis:

I believe this story as outlined has a lot of potential and if "properly" written could even become a best seller (a la Water for Elephants ). By properly, I mean

1. Written so that people will enjoy reading it;
2. No obstacles are put in the way of the reader's enjoyment;
3. Meticulous care is taken with the basics: spelling, grammar and usage,
4. You have your manuscript professionally edited; and
5. Assuming you find the right agent who can put you in touch with the right publisher.

If you have more questions, do come back.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores over 1900+ questions.

And thanks for writing!

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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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