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Question
I am eager to write a book, but I'm not sure how to begin.  Can you share some tips on what my first step should be?  I'm interested in writing a fiction book.

Answer
Hello Kamiko:

There are two ways you can go with this:

1. Just write what you feel like writing, when and as you feel like writing it, until you're done. Don't worry whether it's good or not as you won't be selling it. This will not take you more than a month or two.

2. Write it with the aim of selling it some time, making the bestseller list maybe, or at least getting it printed If you are very young or haven't spent much time writing before, make sure this is not just a whim, because writing a salable book will take years. Writing a book is comparable to learning how to box: you're going to suffer a lot of sheer, agonizing pain before you get good at it. And even after you have learned how to write salable material, you may still find only rejection. If you want to make money as a writer, you'd be better off to take up cooking - after all, people have to eat. They don't have to read.

Now here's a word of encouragement: whether or not you ever sell anything, writing can be a lot of fun, like playing tennis, once you've learned to hit the ball right. It will reward you with hours of pleasure (the more you know about it, the more rewarding it is) and one compelling challenge after another. You can never get "too good" at it - there's always room for improvement.

What will carry you through the long process of writing a book is passion. You will need passion for your subject, for your characters and what they are trying to do, but most especially, passion for their motives: the "why" behind their acts and deeds. There must be something you feel passionate about. Is it love? Marriage? Child abuse? Terrorism? Animal rights? Page through your "causes" until you find one you are passionate about. If you can find nothing you are passionate about, it would be best if you find another hobby.

Once you've found your subject, sort through your convictions around it. Is it good or bad? Recommended or not? If you could say it in one sentence, what would you tell the world?

Once you've worked that out, you have your "premise." It should be stated in this format: "Money plus love equals happiness." All you need for the rest of the book is one person who believes that and one person who does not. The premise should be of utmost importantance to each of them, to the point where they are willing to die for their beliefs. That gives you conflict.

That will keep you busy for a while. When you have sorted all that out, come back here and we will proceed to the next step.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 370 questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Education/Credentials
BA degree in Written Communication

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