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Hey! . I really have a vision of what story I want to write. Well, it's gonna be fiction but it's based from my real-life experience, and I'm really confident writing about it. THe only problem is I specialize in poetry and I've never written a fiction story beforeI don't know how to start. I don't know how to develop characters, and organize my thoughts into the paper. Please give me some writing advice, and how to start this up. How could I create a more lively setting and organize my plot?

Hey, Jake!

Let's take a deep breath and slow down a bit. Your question includes just about every aspect of fiction-writing I have ever heard of! But never mind - you just need to realize that writing a book is a slow and time-consuming project. Of course if you don't want to sell it, just write it for yourself, it doesn't matter how it's written. But most writers at one point or another want to be published. So we will proceed as though that is your aim.

Before you start to write, you must plan. A steady, relentless, thoughtful approach is the best way to write a book. So here are some things for you to think about:

1. What is your premise? What is your book "about"? What will the writer learn from this book? An example: "If you are unfaithful, don't be surprised if someone's unfaithful back." In other words, what has your life experience taught you? You should be able to state this in one sentence.

2. So you have your premise. Now, what would be the best format for this premise? How many of your life experiences do you intend to use? One? Five? Twenty-five? One to three call for a short story or a novella. Twenty-five calls for a book!

3. What's the best type of book to develop this premise? A mystery? Western? SciFi? Or just a plain straightforward tale of your life? (Each has its own rules and techniques).   

4. How many characters will you need to play out the action? Remember, there's no story without conflict, so that means whatever the hero(ine) wants desperately must conflict with what someone else wants desperately, or you have no story.

5. Get yourself a pack of 8x5 cards and on each, write a few words or a sentence or two about one of your life events that you think will support your premise. Just a brief description to remind yourself of what you're talking about. Does there seem to be any pattern to these events?

When you have done all this, come back and we'll talk about structure.

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!

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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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