Blood to Ink: Your Voice May Hate You, but Your Writing Will Thank You

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?


10 thoughts on “Blood to Ink: Your Voice May Hate You, but Your Writing Will Thank You

  1. I've done this before with my short stories, and heard of others doing it with their novels, but I haven't tried it yet on longer pieces. Question for you – how do you keep track of changes while you're reading aloud? Do you print the manuscript out and make notes and then go back and re-read what you've just changed, or just make a note and keep going, or something else?

  2. It was quite the task to do it with a novel, but so worth it.I do all my editing and writing on the computer, so as I make changes, if it's one I know I want I just make the change and move on. If I think I may want to come back to it, I highlight the change in red. Some writers use the editing tools in Word or other programs made specifically for writing. I found I don't like to see all that mess (since I make a lot of changes)- it gets confusing. I also use a lot of post-it notes to write down ideas and possible changes. This all works great for me, but everyone's process is different. Try a couple different things and see what you like best.Thanks, Loralie!

  3. I've never been good at trying to read any stuff out loud (though since I became a mommy, that has improved), so I shied away from trying to read my ow stories out loud especially. Now? I will give the idea a second chance.

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