Two years ago, I wrote on this topic and I thought it was worth revisiting during this month when I am blogging about the writing process. Because I have to deliver a short story by April 1, I recently rediscovered the benefits of reading out loud. I resorted to this practice because I have read and re-read and re-re-read my YA Christmas story, “A Rose from the Ashes” so many times that I had to go over it for a final polish in a different way.
Reading out loud slowed me down so I wouldn’t skim over parts I knew too well. I was amazed that after as many times as I had been through it, I still found typos.
Weeding out bad structure
As I read out loud, I discovered several clunky sentences. They were grammatically correct and got the meaning across, but, boy, were they ugly. When I find a sentence like that, I try to streamline it so it reads elegantly. I also detected bunches of sentences with similar structures. That quickly becomes boring, so I worked at varying the sentence length and structure within a paragraph.
In “A Rose from the Ashes”, a young boy mentions a friend’s name, Jack Dixon. When I said it out loud, I got the final “k” in Jack and the “x” in Dixon tangled. So I changed it to Josh Dixon. It’s a minor change, but it helped the flow of the dialogue.
Breaking writer’s block
If I’m stuck in a certain section of my writing, speaking it may provokes any ideas.
Working on dialogue
Reading dialogue out loud reveals all kinds of problems I might just glide over when I’m reading in my head. When I speak the dialogue, I sometimes find that it simply sounds absurd. Why on earth did I think that conversation made sense?
I have to ask this question since it’s tied to dialogue. Do you ever speak as your characters to try out dialogue before you write it? I’ve been doing it a lot lately because my short story has triggered all kinds of sequels. To get some control over these ideas, I carry on conversations between characters. So as not to alarm my husband, I do it when I’m alone. The shower’s a great place.
This trait may be hereditary. While my youngest was in the bathroom, supposedly taking a shower, I overheard a muffled voice. And I knew my youngest was alone. At least in this reality.