I have completed the first draft of a long story and am setting it aside for a while. While working on it I’ve received helpful responses from four Peruvian readers of my Amazon story, including a four-page detailed and thoughtful critique from Alvaro del Campo. These responses and suggestions are extremely appreciated. The time these people took to read my manuscript and weigh it against their own knowledge, background, and experience will help me make significant improvements in the finished story.
Yesterday I began the process of sitting down with Alvaro’s critique and going point by point through his list. To give you some idea of why he knows so much about the area, he once lead a tour up the Amazon and into the rain forest on La Amatista, the same boat I was on when I took that same trip. Some of his corrections are subtle. For example, one of my characters catches a fish for dinner called a jacunda. Alvaro points out that in the Peruvian Amazonia the jacunda is known as the anashua. Elsewhere he catches me having a character listening to a bird in the night but the bird I chose sings by day. He suggests a night bird and sent a recording of its sound.
For those of us who write about places beyond our own immediate experiences, it pays to remember that without exercising caution and due diligence, it’s easy to make mistakes. I’m grateful to all the volunteers who read my story about their homeland and offered their advice. I’m happy to say that every reader likes the story itself and tells me I got it right. Now it’s time for fact checking and polishing. I’m feeling better all the time about the potential for my first middle grade novel.