A few nights ago, my husband had a stomachache. He always prides himself on being someone who "never gets sick," and mocks me endlessly whenever I get sick. But as he was getting ready for bed, he started getting queasy, and a few minutes later he was curled up in a little ball on our bed, practically crying. This makes me giggle a little because he's a third-degree black belt, and he's so pathetic when he's sick that he turns from this guy:
Into this guy:
So hubs is there, curled up and whining, and I offered to rub his back and read him a story. I had a ton of picture books at the time since I've been reading them for VCFA. But since I was trying to put him to sleep, I knew I needed to keep it dark in the room. So, for the first time ever, I pulled out my MacBook and read hubs the first chapter of my WIP.
I have to say there is nothing that will bring out the flaws in your manuscript than reading it aloud. Suddenly, all those repeated words, adverbs, and awkward phrases will jump out when you're actually saying the words. Since I was reading the story to someone else and wanted him to actually enjoy it, I had to prevent myself from stopping mid-sentence and editing out the words I thought didn't work. It was SO hard! As a writer, whenever you realize that something isn't working, you want to fix it as soon as possible. But I held back, though I vowed to read the chapter aloud to myself again at another time. I'd heard of people doing this before, but I'd never done it myself.
In the end, hubs enjoyed the chapter. His stomachache was gone in the morning. And I came up with an excellent way of revising my WIP. So if you've never read your MS aloud to yourself, I definitely recommend you include that as part of your revising process. I thought my first chapter was more or less done - but reading it aloud helped me find those last few places that were especially weak. I read the chapter aloud to myself last night and let myself stop to mark the things that needed to be fixed. The words flow much more naturally, and I think, finally, chapter one is done. Hopefully the rest of the book will be done by the end of the month (eek!). The very last thing I'll do before I consider the book completely finished will be read it aloud, start to finish, without stopping.