One day I was at my parent’s house letting the kids play with grandma while I got some work done. As I sat at the dining room table, reading my work out loud, my youngest sister stopped what she was doing and handed me the classic sibling look that says, “Wow, you are weird.”
“What are you doing?” she asked incredulously.
“I’m editing,” I said and then very maturely added, “duh!”
A few weeks later she accompanied me to an author event for Kiersten White (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally). During the Q & A, someone asked her how she does her editing. She answered, “I read the whole book out loud, so I can tell if it actually flows and sounds right.”
I, once again with much maturity, turned to my sister and punched her in the shoulder and said, “See, I’m not crazy. It’s a totally legitimate editing tool.”
I read everything I write out loud: emails, articles, blog posts, even Facebook and Twitter posts. This past weekend I spent two days reading the nearly 80,000 words of my latest novel – all out loud. Although my voice complained quite a bit (it took hours and hours), it was worth every second. I caught so many things that I didn’t catch on the regular read through and really improved the overall feel of the book.
Why reading what you write aloud is beneficial:
1 – Helps improve flow and cadence or in other words, helps the reader “hear” your writing how you want them to.
2 – Helps improve the “real” feeling of dialogue. Making dialogue sound true to life, instead of stiff, is tricky, but reading it aloud is a great way to get it right.
3 – Helps catch misspellings and typos that the brain can automatically skip over when reading silently. Also, helps catch improper punctuation and sentence structure.
4 – Helps improve the beauty of writing. Writing is an art and the skill of it comes in word choice and nuances of language that are best heard when spoken aloud.
If you are looking for a way to improve your writing reading out loud is one of the best ways I have found to do it. Just ignore all the strange looks those in your household or favorite coffee shop might throw your way.
Do you read your work aloud? What other editing tools do you find helpful?