You could argue that a writer has no business critiquing the work of one of his closest friends. Knowing the person behind the words influences the reading experience, making it impossible to approach the writing with fresh eyes.
Yet proximity also offers advantages when it comes to thinking about craft.
Knowing Joshua Davis, I can tell you that one of the keys to his success with stories like “The Untold Story of the World’s Biggest Diamond Heist” is that the man thinks in scenes. This isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for good narrative nonfiction; certain writers can sculpt compelling stories out of nothing more than their cognitive firepower. But more often than not, writing is enhanced by scenes: those sequences of action that, when enriched with the right detail, enable readers to do more than merely digest information about what took place. It lets them feel as if they’re there.
To pull this off with events you never witnessed, thorough back-reporting is a must. It’s the writer’s ticket to material about prior action and dialogue – to resurrecting the past on the page so that you’re sharing a yarn, not delivering a bunch of facts....