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I desire to write a non-fiction book. I have traveled extensively and have lived abroad for several years. I have been encouraged to write and I need help getting started.

What are the elements in getting started from scratch?

- BW

Hello BW:

First, you must choose whether you want to write a non-fiction book about yourself and your travels, or a fiction book based on yourself and your travels, but with "made up" sections. The "methods" for getting started are different for each.

Non-fiction: answer the questions below:

1. What's the advantage of writing as non-fiction? The disadvantages?
2. What kind of book do I want to write - autobiography, travelogue, history - what?
3. Which of my experiences do I want to include? (Pick the most intense, emotional or interesting).
4. At the end, the reader should be convinced that _______________________________________.

5. How can I best arrange these adventures to convince the reader that_____________________________________________?

Fiction: answer these questions:

1. What's the advantage in writing fiction? Disadvantages?
2. What kind of story will this be: Adventure? Love? Educational?
3. Who will the characters be? How many real? How many made up?
4. See 3, 4 and 5 above.

Whichever you choose, list out the major events you want to use, on your computer or on a set of 3x5 cards. Fill in a few details on each to remind you what you're talking about. Arrange them in a way that pleases you. From the cards, do an outline.

That should get you started!

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 260+ 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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