Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reading Your Work Outloud

It's no secret that authors get close to their work. Really close. Dangerously close. So close in fact that criticism can hurt as badly as if someone were criticizing your child or threatening to do them harm.

Don't get me wrong, it's good to love your work. You are your manuscript's best advocate and if you don't love it there is simply no hope that anyone else will either. The problems come when you get so close to your work that your refuse, or are physically unable, to see the faults that are staring you every time you go through it.

Let's face it. You know every word, sentence and paragraph you've written and you know exactly why you wrote it and the importance it is to the manuscript. So why would you even consider taking it out? "Killing your darlings," as they say.

I recently discovered just how close I was to R.A.G.E. and just how hard it was for me to kill anything.

I work on my novel a lot. I consider writing a job in fact and put the necessary amount of time into it. So it came as no surprise the other day when my almost 12 y/o son came to me and wondered when he would be able to read this work I never seem to step away from.

Now R.A.G.E. is an adult book but it does have some cool aspects that a 12 y/o would like such as power over electricity and lots of guns and grenades and such. I'm also in the middle of a heavy edit and I thought, "Hey why not read it out loud to him?" I could bleep out a few choice words while I was reading and it would be fun. This way I could catch all those things your eyes pass right over when you're reading in your head as well as spending some quality time with my son and my manuscript.

I've read my book out loud to myself before so I was unprepared for the way I would view my own manuscript while reading aloud to SOMEONE ELSE who has no idea what the story is about.

And you know what I found? Way too much exposition.

I kept wanting the story to move along. Get to the dialogue. Get to the next relevant item. I began yelling at my main character to stop thinking about stuff so much and just get on with it already!

I couldn't believe the change in my perception of my work. It was though I was viewing it from my son's eyes. And then it hit me. I could actually distance myself from my work. It would take my son's help but I could do it. Today I went back through the chapter I read him last night and edited out a lot of the extraneous exposition.

It's amazing what a new perspective can give your work. How do you distance yourself from your manuscript?


  1. Something close happened to me. I read a passage I was particularly fond of to a friend but, instead of wide-eyed wonder at my cleverness, I saw a blank look on her face. The next day I hit the delete button.

  2. Not too mention it is an excellant way for a mother to bond with her son and make him feel like his thoughts are important

  3. I know what you mean, Kittie. It's hard to get those reality checks but better with friends and loved ones than the unforgiving public.

    Mom, it has been fun reading to JJ. He says he's really enjoying it and loves that he can be a part of the project and help me. My newest, biggest fan.

  4. I just put it aside for a good while.

    I'll go for long walks, watch episodes of Buffy that I've seen a thousand times, do some yoga. I think it's important to turn your brain off.

  5. Hmm...I've never thought of reading aloud to someone else. Great idea. Now, if I can just get one of my children to listen. :)

  6. I read out loud to myself - started because I have a problem with punctuation (dyspraxia) and continued because I pick up many many difficult configarations of sentence, many 'agh boring' moments - Have never read to others tho' - interesting thought


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