The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

Writing Ideas: Reading It Out Loud

Writers, read your work out loud. This habit affords you the once–in–a–lifetime chance to see whether your writing has a certain sense of rhythm or not. Reading your words out loud shows you where glitches are or where brilliance lies! Words are supposed to be your vehicles which transport ideas to their destinations. Don't you want your words to get to their destinations?

One thing to keep in mind if you are working on a longer written piece, however, is to make sure you separate the two tasks of reading aloud for clarity and reading aloud for editing. They are two different things. When reading a longer piece, as you are reading aloud, simply stop and make a note of any place where you stumble when you read. But don't edit now, for this is not the time. Just mark the piece (you can use two ** as they are easy to do a "Find" later when you edit.) Then continue reading out loud. The words or phrases you have just stumbled over are/were called disfluencies, and your markings will allow you to fix them later on. These disfluences are places where your readers will likely have trouble reading your work—unless you change something in your writing. You don't need to take time to do any rewriting at this point, but you certainly do need to notice that you have a problem.

However, if you continue to read smoothly, you probably you may begin to feel a certain flow. You can consider your work will be easy on the eyes, and on the mind, of the reader. You can consider that your choice of words will not be getting in the way of your ideas.

Reading aloud has been my advice for writers many years. It applies across all levels of writing experience, writing assignments or goals, and across all types of writing. For instance, I taught my college students to use this technique when they wrote their papers for me, and I used it when I wrote my own papers. And I use this technique today for all of the writing I do, fiction or nonfiction, humorous or serious, short story or novel. It's the only way I can work.

I really believe that if an author hasn't said it well, a reader won't be able to read it. And the test of that is the author has to say it. Vocalize it. Because that's what readers do when they read the words. They sound out the words in their heads. To push the idea even further, I believe that if the writer isn't going to say it well, they shouldn't even bother to write it down, because no one is going to be able to read it anyway. I believe writers should respect the connection between the writer and the reader and want to make that connection. It only makes sense.

One way to do that is to read it out loud.

I'm stepping down from my soap box now, so you can put it back in your basement with your canned goods for storage.

©Margie Culbertson

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©Margie Culbertson

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