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How do you start writing a book?  I am seriously considering it.  My book would be about my life in the hopes to educate people about domestic violence.  Is it better to write a memoir or fiction based on your life? And what essentially is the difference?

Hello Tracey:

First, the essential difference between fiction and non-fiction is that non-fiction (memoirs, biographies, etc.) is assumed to be true, while fiction is assumed to be made up. If you want to create events that never happened, and characters that never existed to make your point, or if you simply don't have enough material and must fabricate, write fiction - a novel. On the other hand, if you have plenty of material without having to make something up, write a memoir.

Whether it is "better" to write a memoir or a novel based on your life, only you can answer. It would not be better to write a memoir if you could write a better (more marketable) novel, and vice versa. One disadvantage to writing a memoir is that you must disguise the real people you are writing about, and that is somewhat laborious.

As to how to start, that's a whole 'nother subject all by itself, requiring a separate question. So please come back and ask it.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 600 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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