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.



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?



Writing the Second Draft

So far, I’ve devoted about ten hours to revising the first 25 pages of my book. I’ve read that first drafts either, A) come up short on detail in an effort to just to get the main idea out, or B) they are filled with excess stuff that doesn’t really contribute to the plot. In situation A, important details will have to be added upon revision– gotta make sure all those ideas progress logically, and at the right pace. In situation B, the writer will have to make some tough decisions about what needs to get axed and what gets to stay. If I were forced to pick A or B, I’d say I fall into the A camp, but of course most people, including myself, would be better placed somewhere on the spectrum between the two.

Those first 25 pages were originally 16. At first I was concerned about adding so much so early. If I kept this up, my book would probably be over 115,000 words, which is no good for my genre. I don’t think it’ll play out that way though. I have to remember that the pages I’m editing now were written over a year ago. My story has grown and changed a good deal during that time and certain things at the beginning need to be adjusted to suit those changes.

I kinda adore that I can spend all these hours focused and working without it feeling like work. It’s tough, and I definitely feel the need for a brain break when I’m done, but I’m finding the process enjoyable. Now I’ve only just begun, but so far, I find revisiting my story and thinking about how to improve upon it far more enjoyable than pushing out that first draft. Not sure if that is typical or odd… what are your experiences? How did your feelings change between completing the first draft and switching on those revision gears to write draft 2?