Saturday, July 3, 2010

Revisions and Reading Aloud

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.


  1. I myself found the "reading out loud" trick really does help with revising when I was going through the prologue and first chapter of my WIP. It's good to know that others do this as well. :)

  2. I do that all the time--its the best! Though it takes a looooooong time!

  3. I read my wip out loud to myself relatively often (lol, that probably makes me sound crazy, but I teach first grade, reading out loud is part of my typical day!) but you were brave to read out loud to your hub. :D I let mine read my writing... um... sometimes... but I have yet to read it to him. That's gutsy!

  4. That's actually really good advice. The only problem is I feel weird reading aloud like that, especially when my family members wander into my room and say, "who the heck are you talking about?" They already think I'm crazy - I'm kind of reluctant to add to that. Guess I'll just wait until they're not here... :)

  5. I've heard people mention that reading out loud helps when editing, both for books and regular school papers. Haven't tried it yet with novels but I haven't started a real grammar/spelling type edit. I might though when I get to that point.

  6. That is a very good idea! I sometimes read out dialogue, but it has never occurred to me to read the whole thing out loud. Will have to try that sometime.

    Also - the image of you two sitting in the dark room, your husband sick and you reading to him, really made me smile. Not because he was sick, of course (glad he is feeling better!), but because of the caring between you that scene portrayed. Nothing says "I love you" like staying with someone when they are sick, right? :)

  7. Yup, it's an eye opener when read aloud. Glad hubby is feeling better.

    What's up with all this rain on our holiday weekend? Hope you have a Happy 4th!

  8. Reading aloud definitely helps me, and I did the same thing last night, read a part of the WiP to the husband, and it IS so hard not to stop in the middle of it and fix it! I usually end up saying "oh, wait... okay wait I have to fix that later..." and then continue reading. He probably thinks I have no clue what I'm doing. ;)

  9. stomach aches caused by unknown reasons always make me think i'm dying...

  10. Reading aloud is something I always do when I write. I started doing this when I had to start writing papers in jr. high/high school and it helps tremendously


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