Sunday, 7 February 2016

Reading Your Work Out Aloud

When I was out for a walk earlier and listening to the Writing Excuses podcast (a good way of multitasking in by book, devoting some quality time to listening to craft related podcasts and getting in some exercise to get some fresh air and energise my mind a bit), the issue of reading aloud came up and I thought it would be a good topic for the next blog post.

Not many of us are fans of reading our work out and come don’t always seen the point. It’s a written piece of work not a script, it gets read in the head and not spoken aloud, right? Well wrong, there is an increasing number of audiobooks these days and people listening to them when they travel to work, do the housework, shopping, go for a walk etc in a form of multitasking. And even if there is no chance that your book will ever become an audiobook, there is still a point in reading aloud. This is because you get to see the text differently.

When we read, how many of us end up skim reading and missing out the odd words, especially if you know the text so well. I know that I do. And this book that you have spent a year working on, do you really want it to be less than its best because you have skim read it instead of really understanding the words and looking at it from a different angle. Take the three days to read your book aloud, you’ll be amazed at how many changes that you make.

So what does reading aloud actually help with – well this is just my experience from reading my work out at my writers’ group.

  1. It helps you identify long sentences, especially those that don’t have any commas in. If you need a breath, then your reader will.
  2. Speaking of sentence length – it will help you find the places where your reading speeds up and slows down. This will help you tell what the natural pace and flow of the story is. You can only read a quick pace for so long, so it might help you identify areas where you need to slow thing longer sentences or speed things up with those short sharp sentences.
  3. You will find were the writing is clumsy and you end up tripping over your words for one reason or another – maybe because you have a single word that just stands out in a sentence.
  4. Repeated word. Yes, you have only used a word once in a sentence but you have used it three other times in that paragraph. So maybe it’s worth getting that thesaurus out and changing it to something different.
  5. If you can get someone to read it to, you’ll get their feedback too and this is slightly different to giving it them to read, as it stops them skimming it, so they will hear the whole story and not just selective bit especially if they are finding part of the story, dare I say boring and would otherwise skim it.

So those are just a quick five reasons to give it a go, after all, anything that can make your story better is worth a go.

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