Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reading It Out Loud


Here’s a little tip I got from the writing conference last week. Reading your novel out loud helps you find errors.
I’ve heard this one before (like a million times), but I never did it. I didn’t need to read my novels out loud. I thought it was a waste of air. Plus, I read pretty fast in my head. Speaking the words takes so long.
But that’s sort of the point. Yes, most people can zip through page after page in their head, but an interesting thing happens when we do. Silent reading means the words go straight from our eyes to our brain. And our brain does some handy little subconscious editing.
For example, when reading silently, we automatically understand words that are missing lettrs. Or our brains will adjust if words up end backwards. We even add words that have been out. While these samples are silly, in works you are familiar with (such as your novel) you will end up doing at least one of these things.
Reading out loud, that’s different. Now it must go from your eyes to your brain and to your mouth. If what you are seeing and what you are saying doesn’t match up, you will catch yourself.
           Also, in reading out loud, you will catch little rhymes and alliterations that you didn’t mean to say. These unintended phrases can be a mouthful (or a brainful) and your epic fantasy novel will end up sounding like Dr. Seuss.
On a side note, now that I’ve started reading my novel out loud, my cat is completely convinced I’ve lost my mind. He meows and tilts his head as if to ask, “Why are you talking?” And of course, he automatically assumes I’m talking to him. Poor kitty. What am I trying to say to him? Why am I talking and not giving him love or food (which is pretty much the same thing in his eyes)?
Do you read your novel out loud? Does your cat think you are crazy?
Happy writing!

20 comments:

  1. I've just recently come to realise that reading aloud is a really good idea, but the idea of actually doing it makes me groan lol. It's a LOT of words!

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  2. I think it's a good idea, as long as I was alone whilst reading.

    Yvonne.

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  3. Hi Jessica: Yes, I learned to read my manuscript out loud. However, I also discovered it's best to do it with my office door closed. If I didn't, my husband would wonder who I was talking to. Reading the paragraphs out loud made a huge difference and improved not only the spelling, but how I expressed my ideas, the feelings of the characters. If the sentance wasn't properly worded, the cadence was off and I ended up tripping over my tongue. Then you realize that the reader will do the same thing. Thanks for the interesting post. Feather

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  4. Reading one's writing is definitely not a waste of time! I preached that to our 4 daughters starting in elementary school. They're grown up now and they still read everything they write aloud! It's a wonderful habit!

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  5. Your examples demonstrated this perfectly. Do you think reading out loud works better than using voice over software that reads it to you?

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  6. Sorry about the odd username above, not sure how I did that.

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  7. What a wonderful reminder... thanks for sharing your conference experience!!! Wish I could have been there! :)

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  8. I do read my work aloud,for all the reasons you pointed your in your post. As for my cat thinking I am crazy--he doesn't mind my one sided conversations with him. In fact, he especially loves it when I carry him around and sing to him (The Wheels on the Bus is his favorite song)LOL What we do for our pets!

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  9. Yes, I've been reading my work aloud for years, and I taught my college English students to do the same. Most rolled their eyes, but the few who tried it agreed that it was an effective editing method.

    To your second question: My whole family thinks I'm crazy, pets included. ;)

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  10. I like to devise dialogue out loud as I write it, so reading a finished work out loud bats no eyes in my household at all. Dog just curls up and sleeps. And I agree, it is different and effective :-)

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  11. I don't have a cat, but the neighbor kids next door probably think I'm a little crazy - I like to pace on my back porch while I read. I think you can work out the perfect flow of each sentence when you read it out loud.

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  12. I read my writing out loud and it helps. I also work with an 11th grader and I always read his work out loud to him. I tell him it's a great way to find any errors. If it sounds goofed-up, it probably is. Of course, when I read to him, I use an accent. I think he likes that part most of all.

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  13. Very good post, and this is so true! I only realised it in relatively recent times myself. I too had heard it all over the place but never understood the importance of it.

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  14. yes--i even get my daughter to read my blog entries aloud before i publish them--but sometimes she still misses what i have written--when my husband reads my stuff, it is like either, i am the most confusing or awful writer there is, or he reads like a first grader--which the latter is not true--so oh well--good point!

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  15. I glad you've discovered how useful this editing technique is. Yes, I read my drafts aloud and find lots of stuff to fix. My cat gets annoyed and leaves the room. :D

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  16. Reading out loud makes a huge difference. My cat looks at me funny, but that's a small price to pay ;)

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  17. I always read my work out loud. Sometimes I go a little bit further and stand up, arms waving, walking from room to room. You really do notice a lot of things that need to be fixed by doing it.

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  18. From all the craft books I read, I always get this- to read our work aloud. Listening to it apparently makes us edit better. Thanks for the advice.

    Riya

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  19. I don't read it out loud, but I have heard that advice a lot of times. Maybe it is something that I should do. Thanks for the reminder.

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