Never underestimate the power of emotion. Eliciting it in readers without veering into treacly sentimentality or histrionics takes enormous skill. I love when an emotional moment is in the hands of a writer who knows what to do with it. It’s my favorite type of reading experience. Sometimes the swell of my reaction is rooted in learning new information. Sometimes it’s in a new take on something I thought I already understood. Sometimes it’s when I see the familiar—and let’s face it, the personal—presented in a fresh and distinctive way that reveals something about me to myself. (See: The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander, which I could not stop talking about for months.) This is heady stuff and very hard to pull off in both fiction and nonfiction. But try. No matter your subject, the reader wants to be invested. They’re looking for their “in” to your material. Give them a good one.
—Rakia Clark, senior editor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt