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Writing Books/Questions from a young fiction author


My name is Raymond Pace, and I am a 16-year-old writer who is in the process of completing a novel. I have several questions and would be very much appreciative if you took time out of your schedule to answer them. Thank you in advance.

My first question pertains to the qualifications that one needs in order to be a successful writer, such as education. To what extent should I attend school in order to be successful as an author? I am a sophomore in high school at the moment; do I need to finish high school and go on to college, or can I sign out of high school (after publishing my first novel) and still be successful?

My second question is much more vague than the preceeding one. I would simply be appreciative if you could give me any advice that you would find helpful to me in my writing.

My third and final request is that you critique my writing; I have several chapters of my first novel done and would be ecstatic if you could read and review them. If this is possible, then perhaps I can send you the files via e-mail. If not, then I will understand.

Thank you for your time.

Hello Raymond:

So you are completing a novel - great! I am sure you will learn a great deal through this process.

So far as qualifications are concerned, there are none. Your work is judged on its merits alone. However I will say this: the more education you have, the better off you will be, whether you decide to be a writer, a plumber or a clerk in a grocery store. College in particular teaches you self-discipline, how to think logically, social skills and many other things. As for "signing out of high school" I would not count on publishing your first novel for several years yet. First, you must serve your apprenticeship.

If I were to give you the "advice" you need to succeed as a writer in these pages, I would be here until next Christmas! All the information you need is out there, it's just a matter of finding it. Go to geocities or MSN groups or and find some writing groups to join. Put some of your novel up there and see what kind of comments you get. If you have access to a library, check out some books on writing and study them. I recommend the HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL series by James Frey, but there are plenty of others.

As for critiquing your novel, I make my living doing this. If you are interested in a paid critique, send an email to, and I will reply with rates.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 320+ questions.

And good luck with your 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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