Writing Books/kick start.


my name is luis im in th army reserves and i was in iraq for a year.

i want to write a book about my experiences.
but i would like ot get a little non-fiction in there.

i have taken classes in high school about writing and i loved writing. its being a while since i done that.

i have the main idea, just not sure how to put it down on paper.

thank you

Hello Luis:

First let me thank you for risking your life overseas while defending helpless people. I am glad you survived. You must have a wealth of material in your head about what happened over there. Our job is to get it out and on paper (or computer).

Before you start your book you need to make some decisions. (Most books require more planning than actual writing):

 1. What kind of book will this be? Non-fiction? Fiction? Or a combination (called "creative non-fiction")? I would recommend you stick to non-fiction, for this reason: your subject matter. Would you want to read a novel about the 9/11 tragedy? I don't think so. People reading books about Vietnam, Bosnia and Iraq want the facts. There is nothing you can do with fiction that you can't do equally as well with non-fiction. Of course you are free to make up incidents such as a conversation you can't quite remember, but it should be personal and be used with a fictional character made up for this function. Still, you may get emails from your colleagues saying, "I don't remember any such guy, he wasn't in our platoon," or whatever.

 2. Writing non-fiction is quite different than writing fiction; it has different rules and procedures. Non-fiction is a lot easier because there are certain established structures that will hold your story together. It is, in effect, simply a long essay. If you will go to
you can learn about essays ((You will have to cut and paste as this site does not support hyperlinks). Read the samples and pick the essay type that fits your story.

 3. Now you need a premise. What message are you trying to convey to the world with this story? That war is bad, was bad for you? How to survived war and come out a better person? Don't trust the government to help you when things get rough? Your premise should be:
   (a) stated in one sentence along the lines of "Love + money = quarrels" or "Infidelity leads to problems in marriage."
   (b) it should be universal, that is, applying to all people, and
   (c) If properly chosen, it will guide you through the course of the book. It's your lodestone; it will help you choose which events to include (those that support it) and which to leave out (those that don't).

When you have all that done, get yourself a pack of 3x5 cards and just start writing down what happened, one incident to a card, just enough to remind you of the details of the event.

When you have that done, come back and we'll see what to do next.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 400+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!  

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.