Writing Tip Tuesday: Read Aloud

January 26, 2010 · 13 comments

Seriously.

Read your manuscript aloud from start to finish. You will hear mistakes. You will find awkward sentence structure, names that are more difficult to pronounce than they are to read, unclear references, holes in scenes, etc.

Read aloud. Fix it. Repeat.

Reading your manuscript aloud is the second best self-editing technique.

The first best self-editing technique is to read your manuscript aloud to someone else.

When you read aloud to just yourself, you tend to tune yourself out. But when you read to someone else, you notice every single word.

This is why a good critique group, where you read your pages in front of the group, can be so powerful.

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{ 13 comments }

Traci Hunter Abramson January 26, 2010 at 9:22 am

Great advice! Lynn Gardner told me to do this when I was working on my first novel. I was amazed at how many improvements could be made by doing something so simple.

Annette Lyon January 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

Amen. That's it. Amen!

Paul West January 26, 2010 at 12:48 pm

But what do you do when you can't find a place to read aloud? The only think I can do is read it silently and submit it to an on-line critique group. I know that's not as good, but it's all I can do.

Karlene January 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Paul, if you have to, wait until your house is empty of people (besides you) then go lock yourself in the bathroom and read it OUT LOUD, with full vocal involvement. Or read it into a tape recorder and play it back to yourself.

Reading silently won't do it.

Moriah Jovan January 26, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Oh Karlene. I can't stand to listen to myself. I sound like a 12-year-old redneck.

*agony*

Anonymous January 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Top Test Best Self-editing techniques:

#10: Read ms outloud to someone else. Check.

#9: Read ms outloud to self. Check.

#8: Have someone else read ms outloud to you. Embarrasing.

#7: Read ms outloud during aerobics class. Lose two extra pounds.

#6: Read ms outloud during family home evening. Refreshments never tasted so good.

#5: Read ms over bull horn at the mall. Get booted from the Sariah Wilson discount coupon club.

#4: Read ms outloud at daughter's kindergarten show and tell. Note to self: consider home schooling.

#3: Read ms outloud over pulpit during fast and testimony meeting. Side benefit: Never get asked to speak in church.

#2: Read ms outloud during Whitney award acceptance speech in your genre. Side benefit: Never have to buy another banquet ticket. Ever.

#1: Read ms outloud to LDS Publisher. Anyone want her phone number?

Charlie Moore January 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

While reading aloud is a strategy (a good one) for working the kinks out of a WIP, it is but one of many. I have never read one my stories out loud nor do I intend to do so. Doesn't mean it isn't great advice or shouldn't be used. It is and it should. Just not something that works for me. I'm too shy. While I do like to write on a variety of themes in various genres, I usually set my own pace (usually slowly) and I usually allow no one to read WIP's until I've completed a draft or have nearly completed. This does not include family members because I already know their opinion could be biased. My wife doesn't care to read and has read very little of my work. She does enjoy Jason Wright. Of course, I'm not Jason Wright. My daughter is more dependable. Rambling, sorry. If Traci Abramson and Annette Lyon endorse reading aloud look at their accomplishments and trust their judgment.

I do like anon's suggestion #3.

Charlie

Kate January 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I read out loud (to myself) a manuscript that I had revised upwards of five times. I was amazed at the number of awkward constructions I caught.

Keith Fisher January 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

It works everytime. the trouble is I get self conscious. When I work through that, My writing improves dramatically. thanks for the tip

Melanie Goldmund January 27, 2010 at 5:24 am

Anonymous, you crack me up! And by the way, we're supposed to bring a friend to church on every fifth Sunday. What a pity it's not fast and testimony meeting on that day; I'd invite you over with your manuscript, I'd take my own manuscript, and we could read them both over the pulpit. Maybe for once I'd actually stay awake for the entire meeting. 😀

Traci Hunter Abramson January 27, 2010 at 9:23 am

Okay, I admit it. I don't read my ms aloud unless I'm alone. But I do think that it can help, even for those of us who don't feel comfortable reading in front of an audience.

Anonymous January 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

I'm the anonymous from the top ten list above. I have some editor friends who I call on the phone and read aloud. It works great. Believe me, there are long pauses while I try to figure out what in the world I was trying to convey in my ms. It is an entirely differently experience when you're reading to someone else, becuase the editor turns off and the storyteller turns on in in your brain and you're trying to convey the details of the plot and story to someone else and you become ever so aware of the missing elements of the story and the poorly wrought details of the plot and the weakness of the pros. Its an eyeopener. Everytime. Reading aloud can change your world. Or shake it up. Its a good earthquake.

Chris January 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I use a free program called yReader to read my book out loud on occasion. It certainly gives you a different perspective.

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