by Cindy C. A. Pereira
The best advice I ever got was from the Book Doctors. Arielle Eckstut and Henry Sterry, authors of, among many other books, The Essential Guide to Getting Published, have an amazing background and I tend to trust their advice. Before we became friends I actually hired them to help me think through some nonfiction work I was doing. First off they recommended I read my work out loud. I guess that is the single best piece of advice and it applies to any genre.
You would be surprised how many mishaps are readily apparent when you read out loud. My husband often suggests that to me as well when I am on a journalism deadline, and infallibly, as I read the work I have relentlessly edited, more edits comes up. It’s not just that you catch mistakes but the musicality or lack thereof in a poem, or the intention and intonation of an essay, are all so much easier to gauge when you listen to the work. Better yet, in my opinion, is to ask someone else to read your work aloud!
David Sterry also suggested that when done writing for the day, picturing the next scenes in great detail is enormously helpful. Visualizing — what will it look like, smell like, taste like… he recommended I formulate detailed thoughts about what people are wearing and how their attire illuminates who they are and what they want from the scene.
As I write mostly nonfiction (and am not being in the business of fake news), that last piece of advice is wonderful — but applies less to my work. Still, I thought both were worth sharing.