Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing to Read Aloud

The Magic Book--Ilka Gedo--1921-1985I frequently hear about the quiet life of writing and wonder if I’m just the weird writer in the group.

Writing, for me, isn’t really a quiet, still, activity.

For one thing, I’m frequently charging around the house doing housework when I’m brainstorming ideas.

I get lots of ideas when I’m driving, too.

And when I write, I’m frequently talking. Yes, that’s me, talking quietly to myself at the neighborhood coffeehouse. Here’s why:

My dialogue sounds more realistic if I’ve given it a read-aloud test.

I’ll check for pace sometimes when reading aloud. Is it choppy enough for an action scene (okay, I’m not writing car chases in my books, but I do have an action scene in each of my mysteries). If something is reading slow, is that because it’s the calm-before-the-storm? Or have I written something boring?

Humor. For some reason, I always like to read humorous scenes out loud. Maybe that’s from watching I Love Lucy when I was a kid—I think of comedy in performance terms and want to see how my humorous scenes sound.

Problem scenes. If I’m done with my first draft, I’ll move on to a quick reread of the book. When I run into a scene that isn’t working for me, I’ll usually read it out loud. This usually helps me pin down the source of the problem.

Overall editing. If I’ve just written a book and I’m getting close to a deadline and don’t have time to let the book sit for a while, I’ll start editing immediately…and I’ll read aloud while doing it. For me, it’s one of the best ways to create distance from the text enough to catch basic errors.

Sometimes, I’ll get hoarse while reading to myself. I’ve discovered a neat function on my Kindle that might work for short periods of time (and I might be the last writer on the planet to use this, but I thought I’d mention it here.)

I’ve uploaded my drafts on my Kindle (not published them there, but uploaded them from my computer by dragging a .txt file copy of my Word document to my Kindle when it’s plugged into my laptop). And…there’s a cool ‘read aloud’ feature on the device that allows the Kindle to read to me. This will help me out for short spates when I’ve gotten hoarse.

Do you talk to yourself as you write or edit?