As of late I have found that I can tell the difference between writers who proof read through their drafts out loud and those who don’t. I myself have a bit of a theatre background so I naturally want to vocalize the language patterns in whatever I’m reading. Sure not everyone loves the sound of our their voice, but you can really get into a story when you experience everything using multiple senses.
This is proving to be very useful in my own writing being that the editing process takes ten times longer than the writing process in my case and can get pretty rough. I had long ago reverted to calling the novel I just finished “the monster” because I often felt attacked by my own words when I went through and found a lot of things that just didn’t work. But that’s all a part of being an artist.
Thankfully I am one of those people who can create my own stories and read others’ at the same time. So when I read Neil Gaiman’s “Ocean at the End of the Lane” and found (in going through the information after the story’s close) that he too reads his work out loud as part of the editing process, I felt somewhat validated. Not that I imagine I will ever have enough talent to write like that man, but one can dream right?
Recently I have critiqued quite a few stories for other much lessor known writers like myself and there is a huge divide. You can honestly tell who really works on their craft and who just wants to get their stuff out there no matter how bad it is. I know because I have experience from both sides. Thankfully enough rejections are leading me away from the latter, but based off of the way a lot of sentences are written there is definitely a lack of flow coming from writers of all kinds. Meaning that many of the stories I’ve gone through were most likely not read aloud to get a sense of how well the story reads.
“Let the saliva flow!” Yes I just used a quote from a “Fivel” movie, but it works. And it is not just what works for writers but characters too. There is nothing worse than reading a story with no dialogue, at least in my opinion. My former college English professor said it best, “Let your characters speak!” Anytime a story drags along it is usually due to lack of dialogue or action, sometimes both.
Here’s where reading your work out loud really helps, it encourages you to write good dialogue that is more realistic. If you can’t enjoy one of your character’s lines when reading it aloud, maybe something’s missing. My most recent flash fiction story to be published is called “The Power Line and the Tree.” The main characters are you guessed it, a tree and a power line, but I was even able to give these beings a voice of their own. Truth be told it is not my best work, I submitted it before I made my ten draft rule and found a grammatical error in the published form but even in something as short as this I found a way to give life to my characters but giving them thoughts and writing them into the story.
If you’re at all interested here’s the link. http://www.quantummuse.com/flashview.php?RecID=347