I wrote last week about proofing everything you write even the simplest Facebook post. Proofing what you wrote whether it is a simple email or blog post to your actual full-length novel is extremely important. One of my favorite methods is to read your writing aloud.
Often when we read silently, our eyes skip small errors and typos. Reading aloud forces you to notice every single word. It can help you notice run-on sentences, missing words, awkward transitions as well as other grammatical or organizational issues.
It also lets you hear the dialogue allowing you to determine if it sounds like two (or more) actual people holding a conversation. (This is actually the best way to have natural sounding dialogue.)
The key to reading aloud is to make sure you are reading exactly what is on the printed page (or computer screen if you don’t want to print out your text.) You may want to follow along with your finger, pointing at each word. This helps you stay focused and not skip anything. Or you may want to cover up everything but the section you are currently reading so you concentrate on just it and not what is to come.
Another option is to read your work backwards, sentence by sentence. This helps you focus just on the text and not the ideas. It can be especially helping you catch sentence fragments.
Methods to reading aloud
Read aloud to yourself – Reading aloud encourages you to actually read each and every word.
Read to a friend – This can allow a second pair of ears to hear the prose and allow for additional feedback on what is missing or needs improving.
Have someone else read aloud – Allowing a friend to read to you lets you concentrate only on what is being read. You can note where your friend stumbles or gets lost. You do not necessarily need to follow along as they read but can certainly do so to make notes and corrections as long as you don’t start reading ahead.
An alternative to this would be to have the computer read to you. This works great as the computer will definitely read EVERY word.
For those of you who use Microsoft Word, this feature is already available to you. If not you can find many web-based services that can help you get your computer, smart phone, tablet or e-reader to read your work out loud for you. (Search ‘text to speech’ or ‘text reader.’)
For MSWord – At the very top of the screen is your Quick Access bar (circled in the below image). Click on the down arrow (Drop Down Menu) on the right. Select More Commands.
On the left side is a list of features/tools you can add to your Quick Access Bar. Go down to Speak and click the button to add it to your bar. Click OK. To listen to your text, highlight the text to be read and then click the Speak icon (now located on your Quick Access Bar).
No matter which method you choose to use, reading your text/novel/post aloud will be beneficial. 22