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Writing Books/writing amemoir of a lifetime of silent hurt


I am a 61 year old male,wanting to tell a story of being physically , mentally abused and unwanted,by my parents. I still do not know how to deal with it today, except maybe to tell my story. I have never written a book , and do not know how to start. How do I get equipped to write the proper way without spending thousands of dollars?It is important to me that I help others come to grips the right way.Thank you for your advice!!!

Hello James:

I applaud your desire to write a book about your experiences, and your goal of helping others who might have suffered as you did.

There is no need to spend a lot of money learning how to write. What you learned in school plus a little help along the way should see you through. There is no guarantee that you will ever be picked up by one of the big publishing houses, but there are alternatives to that: self-publishing, ePublishing and vanity publishing are a few of them.

Like you, 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 a form that suits your purposes. By “suits your purposes” I mean it guides and supports your writing and ensures you don’t step off the path and fall into the abyss.

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 non-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,” the one thing you want the reader to take away from the book - a life lesson of sorts. It should be universally applicable (directed at all people) and will describe the most important thing your life has taught you about the subject. An example would be “abuse hurts children in a way that few perpetrators realize or consider.” It doesn't have to be universally true, rather it will reflect your convictions 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/demonstrates 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. If you have more questions, by all means come back.

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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