Reading aloud seems to be a relic from our school days. If don’t know about you, but I don’t do it much anymore, unless I’m reading to my kids.
But reading to my kids has taught me a few things about good writing – things that probably should have been no-brainers. I’m thinking about adding this simple technique to my editing toolbox, and here’s why.
1. Reading aloud freshens your mind
Using a different part of your brain helps to clear out the cobwebs, which might alert you to areas of your manuscript that were blind spots to the eye.
2. Reading aloud highlights brain-stumblers
You know when you’re reading a book in your head and you have to read over the same line three times to get it? This is magnified times 100 when you’re reading out loud. I don’t tend to notice these trip-ups in my own writing, but reading aloud might help that.
3. Reading aloud reveals wooden dialogue
As you’re merrily typing away your he-saids and she-saids, you might not notice this, but when you read it aloud, it might become glaringly obvious that nobody talks that way. You want your reader to feel like your characters are real, so they should talk like real people. Reading out loud shows you where they talk like robots.
4. Reading aloud identifies flaws in pacing
Is your pace dragging? Are you making flying leaps through the story and leaving the reader behind? Here is where you’ll really notice it.
5. Reading aloud gives you needed distance
You wrote your manuscript visually. It became your on-screen (or on-paper) baby. Reading it out loud makes it more of a stranger, so you can hear it as it truly is, instead of viewing it with rose-coloured glasses.
Next time you’re editing, even a blog post, try reading it aloud, and see how much difference it can make.