Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Talking to yourself

If you stand on a street corner or walk down the grocery aisle and talk to yourself, people might think you're a little touched. That's certainly what I thought about a woman a few years ago when I saw her apparently chatting with a display of sirloin steaks--that hands-free Bluetooth device of hers sure had me fooled.

Chances are, most of us talk to ourselves now and then, and we just sorta keep it low-key and not too public. But if you're a writer, you should talk to yourself now and then. Read with your lips and your larynx to hear and feel the flow of your words. No, no, don't read newspapers or books that way, just the drafts of your own work. You'll find those double words and repeated sentences, the phrasing that doesn't sound quite right. Maybe you'll spot a passive voice or an incomplete sentence.

The point is to use more than just your sense of sight. Use your sense of hearing as well, and you will pick up on those errors that might otherwise slide right past you.

Right now I'm typing with the office door closed, so my wife doesn't hear me talking to myself.


Maryann Miller said...

I remember the first time I saw someone with a Blue Tooth walking down the street talking. I made a wide berth around him. LOL

You are so right about the importance of reading our work aloud. Thanks for the reminder.

Robin Cain said...

Funny, I won't use Bluetooth, but I religiously read my stuff aloud. Guess I'd rather speak of my characters than anything else :-) Good post, Bob.

Holly Jahangiri said...

It's an excellent tip. I subvocalize it, though - using all the dramatic intonation I'd use running lines at a theater. If it's too dramatic, chances are it needs an edit. ;) If it sounds too much like the way people actually talk, it probably needs an edit. If it's readable and interesting, it's probably good to go.

Betsy Ashton said...

Wonderful reminder that we can't write good dialogue if it doesn't sound right. In fact, my publisher requires each of its authors to read the entire ms aloud. It suggests we buy a small digital recorder and listen to what we read. If we stumble, that's a place that needs to be fixed. Such a simple reminder that can save all writers tons of re-edits and embarrassment.

Heidiwriter said...

Reading your work aloud really does help you "hear" things you might not catch visually.

Dani said...