Reading aloud as part of the editing process

I read an interesting post last week entitled The Art of Storytelling, by Leila at Write Am I. In it, she talks about the idea that you can tell great storytelling if the story is captivating both in written form and when read aloud. She goes on to describe how reading our own writing aloud forces us to see mistakes that we would have missed by simply reading, where we often skip words or sentences.

The post caught my interest because this is something that I do, albeit only some of the time. When I am editing blog posts, I only read a small percentage of them aloud – usually the longer ones, where I am particularly concerned about the flow – and I find that it helps me root out awkward sentence/paragraph structures and word choices, accidental plurals, capitalization issues, incorrect punctuation, repeated words, overuse of adjectives, and *aborted thought processes.

*Perhaps this isn’t a technical term – I’m not sure. Here’s a made-up example of what I mean by an aborted thought process:

“I the way I see it, Oakland shouldn’t have wasted a time-out there.”

Notice the “I” at the beginning of the sentence. This could be a result of the following: the writer was originally intending to say “I thought Oakland shouldn’t have…” but lost his train of thought momentarily, or was distracted and came back to his writing task with a different way of expressing that thought. It also could be that he typed out “I thought Oakland shouldn’t have…” and then changed his mind, but forgot to completely delete what he originally wrote. These are both things that I’ve done countless times, but have fortunately caught and fixed, for the most part.

When I write letters or emails, I usually do read them aloud before I send them. I don’t know how I started doing that. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always viewed correspondence as a truly personal communication, and, as such, I’ve always thought to myself, “how is this going to be read and digested by the recipient?” or “What if I were the recipient? Would I want to read this?” I have to take into consideration the circumstances, the person I’m writing to, the content that I’m writing about, and so on.

In the course of reading Leila’s post and writing this one, I’ve decided that I want to discipline myself to read each of my blog posts aloud before I hit “Publish.” People who have read my posts on a regular basis have probably found mistakes in them, including almost all of the examples that I gave above. As my own editor, I’m all the more responsible for making my posts the best they can be, since my edit is what makes it to your screen. I’ve had success using it for some of my posts, so why not use it for all of them?

After all, the principles are generally the same. Who might read my posts? Would I want to read what I wrote? Etc.

Hopefully, the quality of my posts will improve a bit. I tend to edit pretty heavily anyway – perhaps reading aloud can help me improve the productivity of the time that I spend editing my posts, too!

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4 Comments on “Reading aloud as part of the editing process”

  1. Saniel says:

    I don’t often read my posts out loud, but I do usually read them several times while I’m writing them (where I never catch mistakes), on the preview screen (where I sometimes catch mistakes), and then the final blog post (where I catch all eleventy-thousand mistakes and have to republish 4 times to catch them all).

    • Russ says:

      That’s exactly my experience, too. It seems like “republish four times” is kind of the magic number if I have to republish. That’s what I’m trying to eliminate.

      Thanks for the comment – good to see you, Saniel! 🙂

  2. Kate says:

    Good call, Russ! Me too on the multiple publishing thing. What is it about seeing it in a different font on a different background that makes it so much easier to find the errors?

    • Russ says:

      Totally! More to the point, with WordPress, you can preview it exactly as it looks when you publish… and I still miss stuff until after I publish. It’s a total pain. 🙂

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