My parents always read books out loud to my brother and me when we were kids. It was the best part of the day, that hour that we would sit down and listen to a story unfold. We read all the Harry Potter and Narnia books together and many others that, unfortunately, I have forgotten. I have always loved hearing the written word become the spoken word. I love poetry only when it is read aloud, and books become something to share when read them with someone else. Perhaps that is why my favorite part of editing is reading the story out loud.
I have seen, occasionally, advice about reading a WIP aloud as you edit. This is important for a variety of reasons. When reading silently, we often skip over words and sometimes sentences, but when reading out loud we can find those places that we would skip and cut them. In addition, reading aloud helps smooth the flow and brings into the spotlight those places that “sound like writing.” (The emphasis should be on the story, not the writing itself – unless that is the voice you are going for.) Speaking the novel can show us all the things that need improvement. And, of course, it will help prepare your story for those people like me who love to read aloud. See, reading in our minds and reading with our voices are two completely different processes. Words and phrases that are fine on the page become awkward when spoken aloud.
I’m working on this step of editing right now. I’m on chapter six of my manuscript, and I’m taking it slow. So far I’ve caught typos and grammar mistakes and some really awful turns of phrase. I have lots of places highlighted that ought to be cut, or at least revised, and I don’t think I would have caught them if I wasn’t reading out loud. We go slower that way, and tend not to skip as many words.
This story probably isn’t one that people will read out loud, and that’s okay, but it doesn’t mean that it is not important to edit out loud. I really encourage any writer to try this method.
Do you read your work out loud when you edit? Do you like to read other books out loud?
Take care, fellow travelers.