In light of our guest, my sexcellent editor and good friend Stephanie Kincaid, on Flashes in the Dark Radio tonight, I have decided to used today's blog post to offer some words of advice to those just entering the writing game out there. When folks ask me what my biggest piece of advice to new writers, and my answer is always the same. Read. Read. Read. If you don't have time to read you don't have time to write. Period. End of story.
However, today I will suggest another very important step of the writing process that I often overlook when sharing advice, but is one of my main steps in writing. So here it goes. Are you listening? Good!
Read your work aloud.
That's all. Simple as that. And fun too! Reading your work aloud is the best way to measure the meter and rhythm of a tale. Especially dialogue. When you read it aloud you discover the places where you trip over it. And if the person who wrote the story trips on a piece of dialogue or description or narrative thought, then how will the reader react to it? They will not only trip, they will go back and read it again, just to be sure they read it right the first time, and when that happens you lose the rhythm of the story. Once the rhythm is lost, it is hard to get back into it. If this happens a lot, say over an entire novel, then you run the risk of losing the reader all together. And that is no good! It take a few minutes, sure, but the effort is worth the result.
There is another side effect of reading your work aloud that you should consider. Consider it practice. Practice for what? For when you make it to the big time! When you're on top and everyone wants you to come do a signing, they aren't going to just let you sit back and write your name in books all day. No. Some of those places are going to expect you to read your work aloud to the crowd. Think about that for a moment. Read your stuff aloud to a crowded room. Are you ready for that?
Some of us are natural hams, like me! Hell, I'd pay for the chance to read my crap aloud to folks, just because I love to read aloud. I do recordings for podcasts of my own work and others, and have even picked up a few paid gigs doing such things. (Want me to do one for you? Contact me!) I have been told many a times that I have a gift for it, and while I don't know about all that, I do know I just love to do it.
On that note, I have been to conventions where other authors have read their work aloud. Some were amazing! They transported you right into the tale and I ended up buying the book because of it. While others ... well ... lets just say they should consider spending more time practicing.
Read at home to your family. Read to yourself. Record it and listen to how it sounds in the car or at work. Do it any way you like, but just do it. Read aloud and you will find ways to improve your already awesome work.
In the end I read my work aloud because it helps me find the groove of the tale, then I can line my needle up with it and make the whole thing sing.