Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reading Your Writing Out Loud

Today I’m preparing for my reading tonight at LitQuake’s LitCrawl. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming novel, Love in Translation, and I’m excited to be a part of this great literary tradition in San Francisco. We only have 5-6 minutes to read and this makes total sense; it’s hard for an audience to concentrate on a passage much longer than this, especially when there are other writers slated to read as well.

When I’m given the chance to read from my books at events I find it hard to find just the right excerpt that will interest listeners but won’t require a long set-up to get them acclimated. This is the most difficult part for me.

I know some writers do not relish reading out loud, but I do enjoy it. Sure, I get a bit nervous, but I find it fun to try and bring my writing to life in this way. And it’s always interesting to see how the audience reacts.

Maybe I like reading out loud because it is a big part of my writing process. After the pain of writing brand new material and then the pleasure of revision (yes, I know I’m weird), I always read every page out loud and more than once. By doing this I have been alerted to plot holes, wrong word choices, grammatical errors, character inconsistencies and on and on much more than when I read my work in silence. It also helps me define the rhythm and phrasing of the prose much like I do when I’m singing, which hopefully will give it that extra punch.

So whether your potential audience is only your cat or a roomful of people, you may want to practice reading your writing out loud from time to time if you haven’t tried before. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the insight you will gain and how it can enhance your writing process.


Anonymous said...

When editing our books, dh and I read them out loud to one another - amazing what we found. I also did this on the job when a SF client required we read their work out loud as part of the copy editing process.

But you know what? I don't do it on a regular basis, and you've inspired me to do it more often.

Wendy Tokunaga said...

Thanks, Kathy. How interesting about that copy editing process. I've never heard of that.