Sunday, March 18, 2012

Be a Better Writer: Read it Out Loud!

Writers always want to make their work better. Some say writing is really about rewriting. The problem is, it’s not always easy to know how to rewrite a piece in a way that will improve it. 

Some writers set their work aside for a while after they’ve written the last sentence of a draft. Others start rewriting immediately. But either way, the question remains: How do you know what to do to make it better?

One way you can figure it out is by reading your piece aloud.

Reading what you’ve written out loud gives you a chance to hear where your words and sentences flow—and where things get clunky and awkward. (And yes, there are always spots where writing gets clunky and awkward. At least in the first few drafts!)  Reading work aloud gets your words out of your head, where everything you want to say is clear. When you listen to what you’ve written, you can pretend you’re a reader. You can hear if something doesn’t make sense or if a point you’re making on the page needs more clarification. 

Another benefit to reading your work out loud: It’s a great proofreading method. Spellcheck might not pick up on the fact that you’ve left out a word in a sentence or misspelled a word that has several different spellings (and meanings).  When you read aloud, these types of errors are much easier to spot than when you simply reread silently to yourself.

So the next time you finish a draft of a story, essay, or poem, find a private spot where you can read the work aloud to yourself—no other audience members required. The process will give you plenty of clues about what you should do next to improve your work.

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