Editing Tip: Reading Your Story Aloud

Several years ago I was part of an editing group. No professionals – just readers and wannabe authors. We’d read each others stories and fill out an agreed-upon questionnaire. One of the other readers had a strategy of reading out loud to his dogs. Since my story is in its last editing stages, I decided to try it and see how it worked over the last week.

Since people tend to read at a faster pace than speak, its easy to get caught up in the story’s overall structure and miss many simple errors. I’ve found that reading out loud not only forces you to slow down, but many of those errors that are skimmed tend to pop out – almost embarrassingly, I add.

Not only that, but actually narrating the conversations between characters will help catch any awkwardness in wording or reactions. Again, something that can be construed mentally when skimmed quietly.

All in all, I found changes to make on nearly every page. Many of them were minor and can be fixed very easily, while others will take a bit longer to reword and edit.

Also, to my surprise, I found the technique addicting – I never got bored or tired reading my story out loud. It didn’t really have to be ‘loud’ – saying the words under a quiet breath worked fine too. I had to be sure not to go too quiet and then slip into ‘reader’ mode.

Definitely a technique I will use again, and recommend for editing your own story.


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