My Take on Writing Part 6: More Editing

Last post, I talked about the big edit that happens after the “fun” part of drafting a manuscript is over. When you’ve finished the big edit, you should now have a manuscript that’s in much better shape than it was when you finished that initial draft. Most likely, you’ve made some big changes, resolved major issues you noted, and are ready to fine tune the manuscript. If you still see major issues, it’s okay to do another big edit. The one thing I can say is not to get discouraged. I think that all authors go through such things at one time or another.

So, moving forward in this series, you’re now ready for another round of editing. Here’s how I do that round, and it might just work for you as well. I read the manuscript aloud. Yes, the whole thing. Aloud. Why? Several reasons.

1. Reading aloud makes me slow down. When you read silently, most likely, you’ve trained your brain to maybe not read every word, so you wind up perhaps skipping words that need to be removed.

2. Reading aloud helps with dialogue. Remember that a dialogue is a conversation between two people. Reading it aloud helps you to understand exactly how that conversation would flow and how a reader would read it. By reading aloud, you can edit the conversation to make it realistic. For example, if two people are having a conversation, most likely they’re not saying each other’s name all of the time. Not reading aloud might not catch something like that.

3. Reading aloud helps with phrasing. This is also important because when we write, we often get so involved in getting detail, plot, and characters right that we miss phrasing-the mixing of long and short sentences and other phrases throughout the novel. Reading aloud helps to find and adjust errors in phrasing.

4. Reading aloud helps to catch typos. Similar to #1 above, I can get too familiar with a manuscript and start to gloss over typos and other small, small errors that someone reviewing the novel for the first time would easily catch. Again, reading aloud makes me slow down so that my eyes and brain catch these errors.

So maybe reading aloud is awkward. I know it is because it feels awkward to me. So when do I do it? When it’s just me and the dogs. Yes, when my husband steps out for something, be it prayer group or traveling on business, I snatch up that manuscript and make the most of it. Do Wallace and Aspen critique or care? Nope. That’s why I do it then. It may be hard for you to have a quiet house where you can read through a manuscript aloud. If that’s the case, then let your family know that between the hours of x and y, you’ll be in your study/bedroom/den reading through your manuscript and that you’re not to be disturbed. Then use this time to read through it. If you’re still uncomfortable, play music to mask your voice. Then, when x and y hours are up, set it aside and come back later. Yes, it takes time. Yes, at times it may seem silly, but I firmly believe that doing more editing by reading your manuscript aloud will continue to make it stronger.

Next up: The Clean Up

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