Maryann Miller posted two excellent articles on line editing in April, 2009. Line Editing: One and Line Editing – Part Two will give you great results if you go over your manuscript visually. However, if you follow that effort with another read, this time out loud, you will improve your manuscript. Why is that?
When the writer reads to himself, his eye ignores and visually corrects the problems noted at the beginning of this post as well as typos, words or lines accidentally deleted during the revision process, and spacing and formatting errors.
Reading aloud, however, forces the reader to look at words individually instead of seeing phrases and whole sentences at once. We often hear what we don’t see.
Dialogue might look great on paper, but could sound unnatural or pointless when spoken.
Watch out for more of those silly things we do:
1. Repeating names over and over during dialogue.
“I went to the story this morning, Mary.”
“Get anything good, Doris?”
“Oh, just some apricots, Mary.”
“Mmmm. Sounds good, Doris.”
2. Flying body parts.
He threw his arms out from his body.You will often hear what you don’t see. A lot of authors know this to be true and list this step among their tips for writing and revision. Alex Sokoloff said it here in June in Top Ten Things I Know About Editing. “Read your book aloud,” she told us. “All of it. Cover to cover.”
His leg flew up and his foot kicked Adam in the jaw.
She dropped her eyes to the floor.
Her eyes darted about the room.
Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting Colorado authors, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).