photo source: GeekPhilosopherWhat I think I hear in my head when I'm writing is different than what my ears hear when I read my work aloud--something I was reminded of today. Whoa. It shouldn't have come as a surprise. In the writer's craft, reading your work aloud is a key revision technique. But I realize I've neglected the process. And sad to say, my work shows it. Some parts sound out of tune--and are missing rhythm.
Note to self: Read. Your. Work. Out. Loud.
The mind, you know, is a funny thing. In it, your scenes march by in great order--the inciting incident in the first chapter through the conflict, story arc and struggle of the middle, all the way to the climax, resolution and (hopefully) satisfying conclusion at the end. You can visualize it, like a band as it marches across the football field at half time. Awesome movie reel running.
But then you pick up a page, begin to read, and actually hear the words--and it's like the tuba player has run into the clarinet player who knocks over the drum major. And the whole things comes to a halt.
For example, I stumbled over a confusing word then an awkward sentence--and then a distracting alliteration. All on the first page. Clunk.
Les Edgerton, in Finding Your Voice, How to Put Personality in Your Writing, explains how rhythm is one of the elements that go into voice. Rhythm, he writes, "...is the drummer or the bass player of the voice 'quarter.' The timekeeper in your band...(So) Read your work aloud (to check for rhythm)."
Julia McCutchen, in an e-zine article (here) adds another key point: "Reading your work out loud will enable you to gain a clearer picture of whether your writing truly captures the essence of what you want to share with your readers." Joanna Penn at thecreativepenn says that reading your work out loud helps you find inconsistencies, improves dialogue, and gives you a sense of pacing. And Audrey Owen, at writershelper says, "Read your work aloud. You will find awkward places or unclear references as soon as the words are out of your mouth."
So when we build a case for reading our work out loud, we see it helps with rhythm...essence... inconsistencies...dialogue...pace...voice. It also uncovers grammatical and spelling mistakes, repetitions, and awkward places.
Anything you care to add to the list?