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Tip: Read it aloud!

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  #1  
Old 07-16-2008, 10:04 PM
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Default Tip: Read it aloud!


Whether it's prose or poetry, we don't know how it flows 'til we try it on the tongue. Many times, reading aloud helps us catch things like...
  • Copy/Paste mistakes, from moving whole passages on the computer.
  • Excess use of adverbs. (They look great, but when you read it aloud all you hear is "ly"! Better used with care.)
  • Aural dissonance. Sometimes the words are fine but the sounds clash or jar against each other. Other times you find you've created unintentional tongue-twisters!
  • Overuse of a character's name when a pronoun would do, or too many pronouns and not enough names!
  • Continuity issues. For those who, like me, don't write in order, reading the whole thing aloud highlights holes! For some reason it works better than reading silently, probably because we're paying more attention.
  • Missing commas... 'cause we type fast and don't think about clauses!
If you don't want to look like a weirdo muttering in a corner, try reading aloud to family. Everyone likes storytime! While you're reading aloud, you can find and correct errors, and when you're done you might even get feedback!

Well, anyway, my title said it all!
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:44 AM
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Excellent tip, HoiLei. It really does help to read things aloud. Oftentimes our brains will read something as we want it to sound and not as it's actually written. Great for catching errors.
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Old 07-17-2008, 03:20 AM
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I read some of my stories aloud to the Wolfling and can attest that this is an excellent way to catch silly typos, missing words, word duplications and such. It also gives you a better idea if something works, plain and simple. When reading aloud, you might discover that a segue is needed, an explanation is missing, or that a sentence or several would make more sense if they were moved to another part of the story.

So top tip there, HoiLei. Thank you for posting it.
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Old 07-17-2008, 05:27 AM
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If you're like me and can embarrass yourself sitting alone in a room reading, then even mouthing the words, moving the lips, will help. Moving the lips will put you closer to the syllables. Being closer helps because distance is not immediate and sometimes the long throw of a good vowel is only felt from the throat, like growls, or moans even. Commas aren't often alive till they curl out past the tongue, so move your lips and mouth your words and shrink the distance between them. It's a good tip. Yes.
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:44 AM
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Stated with your usual finesse, glberen.
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:17 PM
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I think I tell people to read their work aloud in almost every critique I post, for all the reasons you've mentioned above, HoiLei. Thanks for posting this; it's nice to know that while I may sound like a broken record, I'm harping on about a tip that is actually helpful. =)
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:55 PM
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Reading aloud is very helpful- I use it mostly not for error but how it sounds (too many pronouns, bad metaphors, etc). At first, when I saw the title of this thread, I thought it meant reading in front of large audiences, which I dislike.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:55 PM
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I agree! Even if it's only mumbling to myself, it helps. Reading a passage aloud is especially effective for evaluating dialogue.

Now, I haven't had the guts to try this yet, but having someone else read your work out loud is another good tip... well, so I hear...
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Old 08-25-2008, 11:39 PM
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It's great advice. Problem is, I don't do it myself...

My mind is a critical place. I read things 'aloud' almost all the time, except when writing or proof-reading for the first few times. After a while, or when reading a book, my mind picks little gritty-stuff, and grammatical and just plain insensible mistakes.

It's confusing. Of course, reading aloud is still best... though I admit, ever since I've been writing, at the ultimate, I've only mouthed my words.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:05 AM
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Default reading aloud

When I read silently, or write, I don't "hear" it in my head. It's like the word is in some abstract form. Reading aloud helps me find little goofs that my minds skims over as long as the idea is there.

For instance: if I write "an immediate reply", then decide to replace "immediate" with "prompt", my mind would see the familiar article-adjective-noun construction, and keep going. Reading aloud would remind me that "an" has to change to "a"!

However, I don't do it as much as I should, either!
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:18 AM
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You don't hear the words as you read? I do. I imagine that's why I read slow. It's also probably why I enjoy lyrical prose.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:40 AM
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Default lyrical poems

I always read poetry aloud, in order to appreciate the lyricism!
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by glberen View Post
You don't hear the words as you read? I do. I imagine that's why I read slow. It's also probably why I enjoy lyrical prose.
Erm. When I read aloud, I read aloud in my head. So I take a little more time over the words, hearing them as if they were spoken, but I don't actually read aloud. Well, I do, but only when I'm reading a story with the Wolfling for literature.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:24 AM
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When I read silently, I still read aloud in my head. I hear it all. When I write, I do the same thing. Each word resonates or, perhaps, clangs with another. It annoys my wife that I read so slow.

She called me over to her computer the other night to read something and waved me away as I was almost there.

"What?" I asked.

"It's an entire paragraph." she said. "I don't have the time for you to stand here. I'll email it. Read later."

And that's true. Even each droll word of a dry memo raises its sound in my head. The parched restraint of business-speak to the syrupy raspberry slop of teenage drama - I hear every syllable as I read. I can't turn it off and skim.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:38 AM
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Default reading silently

Originally Posted by glberen View Post
Even each droll word of a dry memo raises its sound in my head. The parched restraint of business-speak to the syrupy raspberry slop of teenage drama - I hear every syllable as I read. I can't turn it off and skim.
Maybe that explains the evocative, rich way you write! Skimming involves recognising common phrases and constructions, and taking them as lumps. If you don't do that, then you're less likely to write those same lumps.

I find that as I read faster, like when I'm really absorbed in a story, it starts to play in my head semi-visually. I was reading Roots once (by Alex Haley), and I found my body aching and my face dripping with tears after a wrenching scene.

I read very fast, but the down-side is that when I want to read something aloud to family, I always say "It's really quick"... and it never is! It takes a lot longer to read each syllable!

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Old 08-27-2008, 04:19 AM
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Yes. I screw up my literal reading aloud.

My head is like an editor's desk, so it works just fine. I tend to edit anything I need to edit... and others' as well. I can't help it. Lol.

I read, in my head, extremely, extremely quickly. In fact, I've had many people tell me that they don't believe that I'm reading it and digesting it at the same time. But really, I am. If I read a little slower, I'd get about 3% more, but that's it. And I can still find errors too.o.O

I once read a small font page in under 40 seconds.

But of course, those more thought-provoking ones I stop and digest. And read over. Especially when I'm tired.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:49 AM
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Had someone recommend to me ages ago text readers on the PC. They're quite helpful, especially if people don't want others looking at them funny.

A simple search in google will bring quite a few up, either free ones or ones that give a free trial.

The voices might not be the best, but it does the job adequately.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by DavidGil View Post
Had someone recommend to me ages ago text readers on the PC.
I hear they're great for auditory learners, too. I've never tried them, though.

Thanks for the idea!
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Old 08-28-2008, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Q Wands View Post
Erm. When I read aloud, I read aloud in my head. So I take a little more time over the words, hearing them as if they were spoken, but I don't actually read aloud.
I do that a lot, actually. Mainly when I'm in a library (because some people take 'quiet' a little too seriously), or on the train (because they're so packed that I wouldn't be able to hear myself anyway). At home, though, I tend to read it out loud. It can help with 'busy' sections, or in sections where there is abundant alliteration.

Originally Posted by SynonymousWords View Post
I read, in my head, extremely, extremely quickly. In fact, I've had many people tell me that they don't believe that I'm reading it and digesting it at the same time.
Me too. In fact, when I was in Grade 3 or 4, my teachers called my mother and asked her to come into the school to speak to them. They told her that they thought I was cheating, because I was reading 'too fast to be understanding the words'! My Mum raced me at home (each reading a page, timed), and then tested whether I knew what had happened or not.

Luckily she realised I was just reading fast, but I was so upset that I actually started reading things two or three times over, so no one would think that I was faking it!
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Old 08-29-2008, 04:05 AM
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... Yeah, it's actually quite insulting.

They didn't believe me.

There's only one person who's really believed that I can do that. And he had to test me. Even my family never believed me.
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:33 AM
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Thanks for the tips! I read about it before and I believe it was mentioned during my writing course, but I've never tried it before and now I definitely want to try it some time.
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Old 10-05-2008, 07:45 AM
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I have never thought about this. Thank you for the tip, I will do so now.
I have a large back-log of short storys that need the editor's touch.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:26 AM
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I've read others work aloud for them and I think the outside perspective is helpful for sentence structure and clarity. When you write a sentence, you know what you mean to say. No matter how many times you read it, you are going to emphasis certain words, or stress a certain phrase. The punctuation or word order may be placing the emphasis elsewhere. Hearing someone read it as written may make you rethink the word order or word choice.
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:43 PM
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Oooh...I should have seen this article sooner! I'm going to save the link to it now. I've lost count of the number of times I've told somebody to read a piece of their story aloud to detect sentence owwies and related ailments. This'll be quite a help.

Somebody may have said this already, but this will usually only work for someone reading in their own language, unless they're adept at whatever other language they're using. It's the native-speakers ear that gives this technique its power.
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Old 12-11-2008, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Winterbite View Post
It's the native-speakers ear that gives this technique its power.
Good caveat! ESL writers will either not hear anything wrong at all, or will correct unconsciously while reading. They can often read something without articles or plural markers, inserting them orally.

Another thought: native speakers sometimes read aloud in a mumbling, head-long fashion. If you're a fast reader, slow down and pay attention to the words!
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Old 12-13-2008, 07:58 AM
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This is so true. Read it aloud (or mumble it in your mind) and see if it actually flows and makes sense. I always do this when editing, and I catch so many things this way.
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