Friday, October 18, 2013

Using Your Other Writing Voice

One of the most valuable tools in your writing arsenal is in your head. No, I'm not talking about your brain, although one of those might be useful too, on occasion.

I'm talking about your mouth, and the writing voice we don't talk about very often.

There are few better ways to find clunky sentences and repeated words and phrases than to read your work aloud, whether in your crit group or on your own. Do you use a character's name too often? You might not notice it on the page, but if you read aloud, that name will hit you like Marvin Suggs' mallet. Reading aloud also helps you find awkward sentences, rhythm issues, and tons of other problems.

It helps if you're reading to somebody else. Reading alone is useful, but something happens to your attention level when you read to another person. Also, the other person can point out words that you read differently than they appear on the page. Often, the word you say aloud is better than the one on the printed page.

Another thing that helps is to listen to it read. When somebody else reads it, you hear it differently. It can be especially useful to use computer software that reads text aloud. The advantage of this approach is that the computer voice reads without inflection or emphasis. The soulless, boring reading voice means that the "reader" does not get caught up in the story, and neither does the listener, so you hear the writing unadorned by story-telling, which can often obscure the actual words.

Whatever approach you take (including multiple approaches), it's a good idea to read in short bursts, and to listen to the words, not so much the story. Remember, the purpose is to find clunky language, not to check the quality of the tale.

1 comment:

Bruce Luck said...

Nice post. Using the computer software to read back your story in a soulless, boring voice is a good idea.