Editing Tip – Read Your Work Aloud
Let’s take a peek at the cogs inside the machine and talk about why I write and how I write on Behind the Scenes Sunday! Today I’d like to talk about an important editing trick that I feel everyone should employ — namely reading your own work out loud!
Editing is possibly the hardest and most rewarding part of crafting a compelling narrative. You’ve done all the work of putting words down onto paper, thousands of them, one after another, but now they have to make…sense. Hopefully they make a little sense already, but let me tell you, no one (and I mean NO ONE) writes a perfect first draft. There is always room for improvement and that’s where editing comes in.
So how do you start? A lot of people struggle with editing their own work, and it can certainly be a challenge to sit down and pick apart something you put your heart and soul into — even if you know it’s ultimately in the service of making it the best it can be. One trick to getting the distance from the work that you need in order to edit effectively is simply time: put the manuscript away for at least two or three weeks, if not longer, before you sit down to edit. Another trick, and one that I actually think is a lot of fun, is to read your work out loud — or have your work read to you.
Storytelling began as oral tradition, as tales around a campfire. Your story should sound just as good out loud as it does in your own head. If it doesn’t, that’s a sign that something needs to change. For a long time, I would literally sit at my desk and read my novel, word for word, out to myself. But I soon found an even better way. Microsoft Word has a handy feature in their “Review” ribbon called “Read Aloud”. The voice is a little robotic, sure, but it’ll read your work exactly as written. Which is great! You’ll catch things you would have missed otherwise, hear clunky sentences, be able to catch when the story is lagging, plus so much more.
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