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Question
Should a writer choose topics which are personal
for nonfiction? Because of my personal life experiences, I would like to write and share some of those experiences with others. Regarding fiction, should a writer choose topics which are
of particular interst; for example, I really enjoy horror and science fiction. I am a teacher at the secondary level and have students who love to write stories. I tell them to just write and keep writing without stopping initially. OK advice? Thank You.

Answer
Dear Vickie,
Thank you for your letter. That's fantastic you are encouraging your kids to write. The exercise you describe sounds like "timed writing," where you set a timer and write continuously without letting the pen stop. It's a good way to loosen up and practice. There are a lot of good writing books available that might offer more ideas for working with kids. My website has a page of good writing books available through Amazon.com. See:
http://steamboats.com/writing.html.
re. topics. Most writers write about something that is of personal interest. For example, someone might study a particular part of history because they had an ancestor from that era, or they have some other personal connection. Common advice to writers is: write about what you know. It's therapeutic because it helps you figure out things about yourself in the process. Also, it's too hard to make something up that you've never personally experienced. It's possible, but you have to do a lot of research and interviews. Better to start with something you already have a feel for.
re. writing fiction. It sounds like what you want to do is turn parts of your autobiography into fiction. That's a great idea. I did that in my first book. It started out as a 500 page memoir, where i just wrote "about" what happened to me. Later, i turned it into a story, that is more like a novel. If you want to learn more about how to do this, check the Fiction Writer's Workshop posted to my web page.  If you want to write your true story, make sure everything is as honest and true as you can remember it. Also, be sure to include the difficult parts, because a good story needs conflict. We all have a lot, it sometimes takes courage to portray it in an honest way.
re. horror and science fiction. You're talking about genre fiction. That's the best place for new writers to start, since mainstream fiction must be more complex with more subplots and complex themes.
Genre fiction includes mystery, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, young adult, and so on. If you want to write genre fiction, i encourage you to read a book on how to write that genre. There are specific rules associated with each style. You can break the rules, but you have to know what they are first! There are some good genre fiction writing books at my site.
I hope this helps!
Sincerely,
Nori

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Nori J. Muster

Expertise

Writing and publishing books, including e-books.

Experience

I have been writing for publication since 1981, including years as a staff writer, associate editor, editorial writer, and freelance reporter. At this time, I have eight Kindle books for sale at Amazon.com.

Organizations
Lakes of Tempe Authors, Tempe, Arizona

Publications
Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement
Dreaming Peace: Your Thoughts Can Change the World
Cult Recovery Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life
Child of the Cult
Learning to Flow with the Tao: The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching
Positive Quotations: Wisdom from the Master Mind
Collected Writings: Five Books by Nori Muster
Noriland Art Gallery: Secrets from the Vault
Spiritual Summer and Other Short Stories


Education/Credentials
UCLA Extension Writer's Program, 1988 - 1994
Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Oregon University, 1991

Awards and Honors
Interviews:
USA Today, Los Angeles Times, BBC World Services Focus on Faith, BBC Sunday Programme, Salon.com, Glamour Magazine, Portland Mercury News, W-Five TV (Toronto), Publisher's Weekly, Boston Phoenix, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC TV News - 20/20, ABC radio, Associated Press, The Age (Melbourne), Rediff.com, The New York Times, Religious News Service, Dallas Morning News, Columbia Journalism School, Whole Life Times (Los Angeles), Toronto Sun, the John Dayle Show (KFYI AM, Phoenix), the Eliot Stein Show (syndicated radio and Internet broadcast), Discovery with Josh Wagner (KKUP, 91.5 FM, Santa Clara, California), KOGO (News Radio 600, San Diego), Jupiterís Girl syndicated radio show, Lakes Log.

Book Reviews:
Publisherís Weekly, Feminist Bookstore News, Yoga Journal, New York Post, Choice Magazine, Boston Herald, Nexus (Colorado), Gentle Strength Times, Coastlines (UCSB alumni), Theology Digest, Nova Religio, Rapport, India West, Rediff.com, Amazon.com.

Book Signings:
Prescott College reunion; Gentle Strength Co-op, Tempe; Different Drummer Bookshop, Laguna Beach; L.A. Times Toastmasters; Biltmore Plaza Border's Books, Phoenix; Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Los Angeles; Health & Life Enrichment Expo, Pasadena; Sacramento Reads book festival, and others.

Publishers:
ISKCON World Review, Van Dhal Publications, Gentle Strength Times, Arizona Woman, Lakes Log, ICSA Today, Cultic Studies Review, University of Illinois Press, Kindle, steamboats.com, surrealist.org, Apple Books, and others.

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