Sunday’s meeting was a little smaller than usual, with only 11 of us but the quality of submissions was high as usual. While we all learned a lot (and some of us maybe learned things we didn’t really want to learn ;p ) one of the most important pieces of advice we received was reading your work aloud whilst you’re editing.
I’ve heard this advice before so you might have too, but until you actually try it you might not realise how helpful it really is. Reading it out loud shows you where dialogue falls flat, where words have been repeated that your internal voice might have missed, where an awkwardly phrased sentence has been ignored because you knew what you’d intended to write so your brain corrected it instead of pointing it out to you, where a long and complicated run-on sentence (like this one) has gotten totally out of control and no one could possibly believe it’s length or ever hope to exceed it – except for maybe that one sentence in Huckleberry Finn which my English teacher insisted ‘flowed like the river Huck was sailing on’.
I know it can feel embarrassing (like the first time you played your Nintendo Wii and realised your neighbours could see you the through the window) but give it a go, see how many mistakes you can catch. You’ll probably find any embarrassment disappears thanks to the value you gain (just like you quickly forgot what a fool you looked like dancing about with the Wii remote and nunchuck because you were having so much fun).
And of course you don’t have to read it aloud to anyone but yourself. You can lock yourself away in your bedroom or study and just whisper it so your family doesn’t ask you who you’re talking to in there. Alternatively it could be a fun thing you do when catching up for coffee with your writer buddies.