Writing Tip Tuesday: Read Your Manuscript Aloud

(writing)




Yesterday I wrote about CHOOSING to have a good day! I hope that you do today.


Today is Tuesday, so I wanted to mention another writing tip that has really improved my writing.  It’s reading the manuscript. That might sound stupid, but let me explain.

1) Read to yourself, as in out loud. Yes, you might look a little crazy if you’re talking to your computer (in dramatic fashion, no less), but I think if you’re a writer, you already know that you’re a little crazy. Now you’re just letting those around you in on the little secret—as if they don’t know it. Besides, this is something I’ve found that really helps me hear the flow of the words, inflection in the voice, or where the dialogue gets bulky. Also, sometimes it’s easy enough to type words, but until I say them aloud, I don’t actually realize that they’re tongue-twisters.
                
    Try teaching two toddlers twenty twirling tricks. (Did you say tricks like a toddler? Twix?)


2) Have someone read your manuscript to you and then treat them to a huge brownie sundae. That way you can hear how they interpret what you’ve written. If they aren’t getting the right feel, then maybe you need to clarify.

Can you tell I’m a little hungry right now?

3) Read to someone else. The person must be extremely patient and love you more than hot brownie sundaes, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll stop them every few minutes to scratch things out. One time I read my entire manuscript to my husband as we drove across the country (he’s the best by the way!). As I read, I started anticipating what was going to bore him, which in turn made me edit before I said it, cutting things I should have cut long before. Also, this allowed me first hand reader reactions. It was very, very useful. He’s even let me read to him over the phone during his long commute.


4) Another thing you can try is this great little feature my hubby bought me (Have I mentioned how great he is?) that goes right into Microsoft Word. It’s called NaturalReader and it takes any text and converts it to audio. Either it will read to you immediately, or you can download your text as an MP3 for someone who would rather listen to your book than read. It’s awesome. The nice robotic lady also reads exactly what is on the paper as opposed to what you think is on your paper. For example, I just played back this paragraph and where I thought it said, “bought me”, I’d actually typed, “brought me.” It’s a great editing tool.
That’s it for me today, unless you’d like me to post more pictures of chocolate covered desserts that I want but probably shouldn’t eat. 

What about you? Do you have experiences or advice with reading your manuscript out loud?

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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

5 thoughts on “Writing Tip Tuesday: Read Your Manuscript Aloud”

  1. I read everything I write and everything I critique out loud. This is why I'm not allowed to critique when the hubs is watching tv in the same room. He has however, asked me to stop sometimes and repeat what I just read. Either because he was so shocked or because it was so funny. That's a good thing, right? :)

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  2. This is a good tip, my professors always tell me to do it for essays as well. Sometimes I'm reading a book and the sentence feels weird in my head and I have to reread it, so it's always nice to avoid having that in your own work. And now I really want a brownie sundae, ah!

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  3. I have reading my book aloud on my To Do List before I go another round of querying. Reading aloud helps me with flow and word choice the most. Oh, and paragraphing.Great thoughts! Now I want a Twix.

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  4. I've done your #1, #2, and #3, and totally agree! Reading out loud to myself has helped me to make sure things flow so much better. I had a teacher I work with read my ms to her class, and by hearing their reactions, as well as hearing someone else read it, I was able to figure out things that made it tons better. And reading to my kids… well, I'm not sure that improved my ms tons, but it sure was fun! Great post!

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