Friday, February 15, 2013

Reading Aloud

I've often heard writers speak about reading their work aloud before sending it off. I disputed that advice and said, "I hear it inside my head."

This is my confession that I was wrong. I recently recorded five radio scripts for the publisher of Not Quite Healed. The publicist chose segments for me to read in 35–40 seconds.

As I read in preparation, I was shocked at some of my bad sentences. I understood them only while reading them aloud.

Here are two that I'm embarrassed to have written.

First, it's a good thing I didn't see everything in the beginning . . . Notice the double thing and I started with a weak, It's.

It would have been a better sentence if I had written it this way: I didn't see everything in the beginning and that was good."

In another script, my sentence read, "We lived with our hidden anguish for years." Not a bad sentence, but it has the wrong emphasis, so I changed it to read: For years, we lived with our hidden anguish.

When I read aloud,

my ear catches what my eye misses.

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I wanted to edit my post, sorry for the delete.

      I belong to a local critique group. One of the members follows along when we read our writings to the rest of the group. She marks places where we delete words to make the reading smoother or add a word or two. Sometimes I can read something and subconsciously edit.

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  2. I hate to disagree with Heather, but critique groups aren't the place to read aloud. (And she may certainly disagree with me.) The read-aloud time is for the writer while polishing. That's the time to catch the awkward syntax/

    To read aloud in critique groups is time consuming and boring (for those who have to sit and listen).

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    1. Cec, what would be your advice for critique groups, that everyone pre-reads the submitted work?

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  3. I have been reading aloud my writing for several years. The story sounds so different to my ears than it does in my head. This task also helps me get a better feel for the pacing of the piece.

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  4. Reading aloud is one of my primary, and final, edits on almost every project. You're exactly right - the ear catches what the eye misses.

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  5. Love this advice! Roger Palms spoke at a writer's conference I attended years ago, and he encouraged us to do this. "The ear is your best editor," he said. It stuck with me, and I now encourage my teen writing students to use this helpful method.

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  6. I feel I haven't completely edited until I read my writing aloud. It doesn't matter how unnecessary it may seem at the moment, I usually find something I can improve on if I hear it.

    Now if only I'd apply that same wisdom to emails and blog posts...

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  7. Writing for kids, I often read my work to my own brood. Inevitably something gets fixed right then!

    I just passed on your blog to my facebook friends because your bite-sized reminders are just right for hanging on to. :-)

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  8. This is a very interesting post. I am certainly going to try this. Thank you for sharing about your experience with this too Cec.

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  9. Thanks Cec. I will spend more time reading my writings. Also, I will spend more time reading Shakespeare writings. Now, I am reading, The Merchant of Venice, out loud to learn about IAMBIC PENTAMETER.
    Herman Villanueva, Honolulu, Hawaii

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