Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finding Experts

Do you write non-fiction? Are you hesitant to do so because you don't feel like you know enough about a subject to be an "expert?" You'll be surprised then to learn you don't need to personally know about a subject. What you need is an expert. How do you find your "experts?" That too can be as easy as asking a friend, or contacting a professional organization in your area.

I'm currently working on an article about writing across genres. I, myself, do write in more than one genre at a time, but I like to include other opinions besides my own when I write. I posted a plea for help to a writers' forum and was rewarded by responses from eight professional writers, all who have a unique perspective on writing across genres.

A few years ago, I wrote an article for teens on how to deal with domestic violence in their home. While I had some training as a women's crisis line volunteer, I contacted our district attorney's office and spoke with a victim's advocate who gave me additional information to flesh out my story.

More recently, I interviewed my water aerobics instructor and developed an article about the health benefits of participating in water aerobics. While I had a basic knowledge of the sport, having participated for over eight years, my instructor was able to provide me with specific details.

After reading an article in our local newspaper about teen suicide, I contacted the organization behind the article and they referred me to a local teen help group. The young woman who responded to me was extremely helpful and this article too appeared in Listen magazine.

I planned a teen article about cheating in school. My husband, who taught high school, asked his students if they would participate in a questionnaire. Several agreed to do so and the resulting article appeared in Listen magazine.

When I wanted to write about safety in our local schools, I turned again to my husband. He was able to recruit several co-workers who were more than happy to help me with the project.

You may not have access to teachers like I did, but you will find many willing to help if you approach them. Just go to your local school district office, let them know your needs and they will direct you through the proper channels. Police officers and fire department personnel are also excellent resources. Ask your friends and relatives who they know. You'd be surprised at the "experts" you will find right in your own locality.

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