Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Read Your Writing Aloud When You Self-edit




Most of us had our first experience with books that an adult read to us. Sitting cozily with Mom or Dad helped enforce the joy of stories and books, a feeling that stays with us into adulthood. In school, we learned to read by reading aloud from those primary readers, some with fingers running under each word, some painstakingly and others sailing along with amazement and joy. 

But now, you're an adult and a writer. You edit and revise your work by sitting at your computer and silently reading paragraph by paragraph looking for ways to make your story or poem better. One way to increase the odds that you will improve your work is to read it aloud. All alone. Not to any other person. Just for your own ears.

You're probably thinking that you'd feel stupid sitting there reading out loud to no one but yourself. What if someone in your family walked by and saw you? They might think you've finally lost it. Right? Doubtful. 

We all want to create as polished a piece of writing as possible so that our chances of getting published will be increased and also because we want to be proud of what we produce for others to read. 

During that editing and proofreading process, take the extra step of reading your work out loud. Listen to what you've written. Watch to see places where you stumble in your reading. Why did that happen? 

Reading your work out loud:
  • helps you see the rhythm and pace
  • makes unnecessary words stand out
  • shows you parts that don't work
  • reveals sentences that are too long
  • lets you see where more punctuation is needed
It's better to print the piece, move away from the computer and read aloud. Go to a window or a blank wall; it doesn't matter where as long as it is away from the place where you wrote originally. If you bring a highlighter with you, places that need work can be easily marked. 

We are often blind to our own errors, especially when we read our work silently at the computer. That's one good reason to have someone else critique your writing. They see things that would never come to light for you when doing your own editing. Try reading your writing aloud and see if you find it worthwhile. Don't do it one time and quit. Give it a few tries before you decide if it is beneficial. Yes, it is one more step that takes up precious time but go for it.

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