Reading Your Work Aloud

On Thursday I took my first dive into the revision process- it ended up being a seven hour dive. My stuff needed some WORK, y’all. Ernest Hemingway was giving me that What’d I tell you? expression the whole time.

Truth.

Truth.

Anyway, the next morning, I woke up and started reading over what I’d done the night before. After accidentally reading the same line three times (my cue that I’m not really processing anything I’m reading), I remembered a tip about reading aloud and decided to try it out. I immediately picked up on several grammatical errors and typos that I’d missed after a dozen silent passes, but I think the biggest benefit was just really hearing the flow of the sentences. I made some major changes to some dialogue that I found totally unnatural after reading it out loud. Eventually though, I found myself reading the words, but not really following the story – like when teachers would make you read in front of the class when you were little, and then have the nerve to ask you a question about what you just read. This is when I had the bright idea to record myself. That way, I could listen to my story without the distraction of reading it. My own personal audiobook! I opened up Garage Band on my laptop and got to work.

Garage bandAfter allowing myself to cringe a little at the sound of my own voice, and after goofing around with all the lovely effects Garage Band has to offer, I sat back and listened. I sat on my bed cheesing and just basking in the “I wrote this!” glory while also noting some important changes to make. I loved it so much and found it so valuable that I declared I would record the entire novel as I revised it.  That ambition didn’t last long for two main reasons:

  1. I spent an hour and a half recording the first eight pages. Eventually I found myself obsessing over misspeaking- deleting and rerecording like I was actually creating an audiobook that would heard by the masses.
  2. Dialogue got tricky once more than two characters came into play. I felt goofy doing my best impression of a male voice, but I managed. When it was time to play the role of four different characters, I failed miserably. I thought about just throwing in extra dialogue tags verbally for the sake of the recording, but that would only disrupt the flow of my storyline and speaking.

So perhaps I won’t be recording my entire novel, but I definitely expect to use this tool here and there throughout the revision process. Do you have any special tricks that help you revise?

-ED

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