Writing Books/beginning


I have, for a few years wanted to write a book. I am a history major and that is the area I'd like to write in. No, this is not a homework question. I would like to write a history of the U.S that the common man may be interested in reading. My concern is I have had no classes in writing and my school doesn't offer any classes locally, maybe online, but I am not too keen on e-courses. I don't know where to begin. I'd appreciate any advice you could offer.

Dear Stephen:

Many people have a head full ideas but no idea how to start writing a book. Getting started involves bringing these ideas under control, putting them into some tangible form, and manipulating it until it suits your purposes. By “suits your purposes” I mean it guides and supports your writing and ensures you don't put a foot wrong.

First, you must decide on a premise. The premise is what your story is “about,” and can also  be described as the “takeaway,” what you want the reader to take away from the book. It should be universally applicable (works for all people) and stated in a single sentence. This statement will describe one principle - something you believe about history: "From history we learn that war is hell," or something along that line. True or untrue, it should reflect your views on the subject. This is the most important part of your book, so choose carefully.

Once you have your premise, get some 3x5 cards and on each, list the historical events that support your premise.  Keep going until you feel you have enough events to fill a book.
At some point, a pattern should begin to show itself. Sort the cards around this pattern until the arrangement suits you. From that, make an outline, keeping the premise in mind at all times. Make sure there's some kind of progression – some movement from A and B toward C.

If this process doesn't appear to fit your situation, if you simply want to provide information while keeping your personal beliefs about it out of the book, just list the events you want to describe.

When you are finished organizing your material, you may begin to write your first draft. If you need more help, please come back.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 600 questions.I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 670 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 http://pygmypress.com, 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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