Talk to Me

The process of editing a novel is like nothing I’ve ever encountered. I’ve edited book-length non-fiction work. But fiction. Whew. And I am a copy editor by trade. It’s the length, it seems. Sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter — the story, the ebb and flow, the characters, setting, dialogue. It’s a massive undertaking. My impatient journalist ‘your deadline is now’ self strips gears downshifting from daily newspaper work to the slow, meandering, herculean effort of writing, then editing, long fiction.

So I read aloud what I’m editing. In a newsroom, it’s annoying, and maybe fatal, to read aloud, but in the privacy of your writing nook it is essential. At least for me.

Reading words on a page can be anything from a sprint to a marathon, the eye and the mind choosing whatever speed is most comfortable at the time. But reading aloud – there is no such thing as speed talking a novel, unless it’s to amuse friends at a party.

But that’s for another time. The time I’m spend now, the critical, fine-tooth-comb, prelaunch editing, is nerve-wracking at best, thrilling to be sure, but best executed simply by reading the pages aloud.

Well-written sentences are musical, have their own rhythm, their own cadence. A conversation seguing into a narrative passage that sounds simple and easy when spoken aloud is magic.

Don’t believe me? Go to your work-in-progress and read one paragraph aloud. Tell me what you think. I found four mistakes in this post after publishing it. I didn’t see them so much as heard them when I read them aloud hours after I published it. It happens to everyone. Just keep at it.

Happy writing!

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2 comments

  1. Great hint! The brain reads what the eyes think they see when you’re reading silently. When you read aloud, there’s still the chance you’ll presume you know what’s on the page, but it’s a smaller chance.

    Like

  2. Editing is definitely no easy task; I’ve labored away at both of the novels I’ve written. Although typically my writing style is editing as I go, which slows down the writing process but makes the final edits quicker.
    Some good stuff on your blog, thanks for this! I’ll be following you as go and hope you do the same for me.
    Looking forward.

    Like

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