I've been doing a lot of editing lately, both for clients and for my own books, so I thought I'd share a tip with you all today. I talk a lot about how I edit books backward in one of my reading passes, but something else that is just as important (maybe more important) is reading the book out loud.
I can't stress this enough. Yes, you will probably lose your voice if you revise too much in one sitting, but reading aloud allows you to identify so many weakness in your writing. Don't believe me? Ask people who have had their books made into audio versions if their readers (the person making the audio) identified errors. I bet they did.
Here are just a few things you'll hear when you read your book aloud:
Repetition Every manuscript I edit has repetition it in. Every single one. And in
most cases it's unnecessary repetition that you don't want. (My editors get on my case for this too because seriously, everyone does it.) If you read your book aloud, the repetition pretty much slaps you in the face, and then you can get rid of it. You'll be thankful when the book reads more smoothly and the pace picks up, too.
Missing Words Yes, you can hear missing words. You hear them because they aren't there. When we read in our heads, we don't always catch a missing "the" or "an," but you will when you read aloud.
Awkward Wording You'll stumble over sentences that aren't quite right if you read them aloud. If you have to slow down or reread a sentence, something is wrong with your wording. Maybe it's a case of poor word choice or a phrase that doesn't quite read correctly. Either way, this is the time to fix it.
Contractions I've had clients make words into contractions that have no right to be contractions. ;) It's awkward for the reader. In the same token, most kids don't speak without contractions, so if you're avoiding them completely, think again. Reading aloud will highlight areas that don't sound like real life speech.
Italics Sometimes you have to make sure your intent with emphasis is clear. Italics will do that. So if you're reading a sentence and the emphasis could be placed on the wrong word, make life easier on your reader and add italics to the word or words you want emphasized.
I could probably keep going, but I think you get the point. It's worth the extra time it takes to read a manuscript aloud.
Do you make reading aloud part of your revision process?