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dear ms. rand,
    i know the theme, the characters, and most else i need for my book. the one thing that i am unsure about is how to get started. i don't know what to write in the first chapter. how do i start the book? also, sence it takes place on another world, what information do u think i should research?

Hello Linda:

You have your work cut out for you, setting your book in another world (unless it is the popular "planet like earth")! This requires a lot of study and planning before you can even begin. For an example of what is recommended, go to (You will have to cut and paste as this site does not support hyperlinks). And that is just Part I.

"Getting started" involves bringing all your 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 stray off the path into the abyss.

Second, you must decide on a premise. The premise is a life lesson, the one big thing life has taught you about this subject. It should be universally applicable (works for all people) and stated as a formula: "A + (or -) = C." 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 life 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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