Friday, January 20, 2012

Do you read aloud?

When I read, the words in my head are filled with expression and emotion and nuance and all that other stuff that I’m sure actors learn so they can deliver Oscar-worthy performances. It’s all there, and, without bragging, it would give Sir Lawrence Olivier as Hamlet a run for his money. It would bring tears to your eyes, I swear.

Sadly, my actual speaking voice was provided by the Monotone3000.

This is how I imagine the Monotone3000.

I’m not fond of reading aloud. Never have been, and never will be. When I read, I’m racing ahead to find out what happens, not savouring every syllable like a fine wine. Or a cheap wine. Or any wine. 

Hmm, I think I might have a wine.

But reading aloud is good for your WIP. When you slow down, when you listen, you might pick up some things.

Like that gap where you left out a word that your brain auto-filled but your mouth didn’t.

Like that tongue-twister that shouldn’t be there.

Like how come your eyes know the word stymied but your mouth always mispronounces it?  And don't get me started on cacophony

Like the rhythm that falters, and the beat that skips.

(And especially like how every second word is like.)  

But, most importantly, using your actual voice helps you to refine your literary voice. 


Do you read your WIP aloud? 


  1. I do read aloud, but just above a whisper. I find that's enough for me to hear the rhythm of my wip and spot any obvius typos or errors.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  2. Good points, great post! And yes, I read my mss aloud. I do find myself stumbling over words or picking up something that just doesn't "sound" right, so I find it an important step in the process...

  3. I have done this occasionally, but mostly haven't even got to the point of needing to yet. I haven't really been in the "fine tuning" stages with any of my manuscripts so far, only in the "drastic edit" stages. But I definitely intend to rely on this method when I do get to such a stage!

    I also think it's very very important to read a printed-out copy of your work!

  4. I read out loud when I'm home alone and attempt to give my best, award worthy performance. And, like you say, it's perfect for picking up things that don't quite work.

  5. I read out loud to my kids every night. I don't mind my reading voice. I am about to jump into the read it out loud thing for my WIP. I know it will help.

  6. I have given you an award on my blog. Congrats!

  7. I started to read outloud, and not just to family but to crit. partners who I KNOW are going to honestly tear it apart. It's awesome. You find all of the flaws in it. And then you will be able to perfect it.

  8. I read all my work aloud, at least once I'm done. Then I'll print it out (cause for some reason that works better than the screen) isolate myself and listen to the words.

  9. I've rarely tried this advice 'cause I got a Monotone2000 voice - the older model that mumbles.

    But it did help with a kid's story 'cause it's meant to be read aloud and I could tell where it went flat and needed some wine.

  10. @ Mood, I'm the same - just above a whisper, just below a mumble!

    @ Kenda, it's surprising how different it is to reading silently, and what you can pick up, isn't it?

    @ Trisha. I absolutely agree about printing out a copy. Particularly if you have a computer program like mine that hides all your spelling and punctuation errors on the screen, and only shows them when it's spooling out on the printer. At least that's what I'm sure must be happening, right? :)

  11. @ Miss Cole. I read that as "best awkward worthy performance". LOL!

  12. Hi Jenny! I think reading aloud to small kids definitely improves your reading voice! It's great training.

    @ Krista, oooh, thank you!

    @ Melanie, that must be scary at times, but congratulations! Sometimes the only way forward is to tear it down and rebuild.

    @ Aldrea, yep, printing out is hugely important as well!

  13. @ MC, the old Monotone2000, hmm? I hear they go for heaps on eBay...

    And kids story could always use more wine. I think the bubbles help!

  14. Right, but my voice sounds like hell went to bigger hell.

  15. I read it very quietly, so it looks like I'm mumbling away to myself :-)

    1. That's gotta get you some odd looks, Sarah!

  16. Yes I do, when a paragraph or dialogue isn't working. It's amazing how the problem is usually evident in the reading.

    It's better if you aren't in a public place - then people might wonder if you're giving an impromptu reading or if you're just nuts.

    It works for me.

  17. Ooh! I suddenly want to take my WIP onto public transport and start reading aloud with a really big smile, and see how quickly I can get a seat to myself!



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