read it loud, read it proud

My current project is a collection of narrative stories that are meant to be spoken aloud as much as read to oneself.

Reading aloud is important for writers on several levels. First, hearing what you’ve written has a way of highlighting awkward language, bad flow, or ideas that just don’t work. It’s a good practice for editing. Second, audiobooks are growing in popularity, and are an important part of the discussion of any publication track these days. Even if you don’t record your own, don’t overlook them. Third, public readings are a common and effective way of promoting your book. Might as well get used to it.

stick figure reading aloud from book

It’s funny; I’ve known this trick for some time, and have made it a point to use it heavily in writing the stories for my collection, But for the past several weeks, I’ve just sort of…forgotten about it.

I remembered it yesterday when I was looking over stories in progress in search of something I might read for an open mic, and then started reading one story out loud. The number of times I told myself holy god, that didn’t work was just barely outweighed by the number of times I noticeably winced. I don’t keep a revision history for my writing at this stage, so I don’t have examples to show, but there were a variety of problems and a corresponding variety of fixes. Some things needed only a bit of shuffling, but I also ended up deleting an entire paragraph that ultimately just didn’t belong.

It shouldn’t be surprising that this method can work. Our brains process different types of input in different ways and in varying degrees of effectiveness, and of course, we learn to speak before we learn to read. It makes sense that speaking would work at a more primal level.

Anyway, the best part for me is that after all the audible editing yesterday, the story works better. I managed to work through a few other issues in the latter half of the story (full disclosure; actually writing the latter half of the story) as well. So, fellow writey folks, have at it: read it loud, read it proud!


Name o' Penfold. Just Penfold. A full-time husband, dad, programmer, and nerd, trying to add "writer" to the list.

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