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I'm trying to write a non-fiction about the prisoners i transported and there wild antics they pilled and said. I'm not sure these stories should be written.


Hello Carlene:

Many people want to write and have some ideas they like, but they don’t know how to get started.

Getting started involves bringing this material under control and putting it into tangible form in a way that  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 make a few decisions. Will the book be fiction or non-fiction? A book based on your personal experiences - along with a few made-up parts - will be "creative fiction." Personal experience with no added bits is a non-fiction book – it deals with facts.

Second, 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 - a life lesson of sorts. It should be universally applicable (works for all people) and will describe one principle - something your life has taught you about this subject. An example would be “Love plus plenty of money makes for a good marriage.” It doesn't have to be universally true, rather it will 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, write a few words around an event from your experience that supports 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.

When you are finished organizing your material, you are ready to write your first draft.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 800 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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