Monday, October 10, 2011

Reading Out Loud

It's done.  Written, revised, edited, rewritten, re-revised, re-edited, ripped apart and done again. It has been through readers, editors, fact checkers. Every chapter, paragraph, sentence, word. Every period, comma, question mark.  It's ready to go-right?

Not yet.

There is still one more step (actually two) before I send this manuscript, dripping with blood and sweat, off to my final two mentors for the big check mark, thumbs up or whatever the typical 'ready to go' sign is they use. Reading the entire manuscript out loud.

Yes, I know, we've read our manuscripts a gazillion times, some of us could probably recite them in our sleep. So why read them out loud? Simple. When we read to ourselves, our brain has a way of 'fixing' things for us.  We have learned to skim and skip and compensate for errors.  When we are forced to voice each word, we are more aware of the content of the sentences and those errors that we thought couldn't possibly be there suddenly are glaring at us like wild beasts.
  
What ever could I find in my perfect manuscript? Rough spots, awkward sentence structure, things that seem unnatural, holes in scenes, unclear references, run-on or choppy sentences, repetitive words and phrases, just to name a few.


So here I am, preparing for the big read.  I know I need to read slowly, otherwise my brain will do its thing and start compensating for errors. I am going to record it, so I want to read with inflection, make it interesting enough that I wouldn't mind listening to it myself, which I will do after it is done.  

Voices: Steven and Kayleigh
Each chapter of my manuscript begins with a quote from actual Hoover Dam workers or their families taken from oral histories.  Because of this, I have enlisted the help of a few good men (and a fine lady) to read these opening quotes.  I will read the chapters, word for word, with a pen in hand, marking spots to go back and fix.

Another voice: Dillon, not the random Elvis
So, if all I am worried about is finding my own errors, why do I care that the oral history quotes be present in this recording? And why go to the bother of having other voices speak these parts?

As I said above, this is the second to the last step before I send the manuscript for my 'stamp of approval'. The last and final step is to send this book through one final reader.  A professional reader, by my definition, as she reads an average of twenty books a week.  She will be the one that tells me if she can 'see' my scenes happening, if the dialogue 'sounds' natural, if she can 'smell' the river. And she won't be distracted by the words in print--she can't be, because she is blind.

(And next week, you will meet her right here!)

17 comments:

Loree Huebner said...

I've always do the final read through out loud. You catch the mistakes and where the pace is off.

Excellent post.

Can't wait until next week. Sounds like an interesting post.

Sandra de Helen said...

When I copyedit for others, I read their work out loud as well. This step is critical. I'm so glad to see you post this!

-RWWGreene said...

I can read parts of it in my Yoda voice, if you like. Mmmm, yes ... Hoover Dam.

Dean Harkness said...

More writers should do this Kelly. I am a terminally slow reader, which I don't like, obviously, but it has one main advantages: I don't miss a syllable. And I can honestly say that I have not read a book for a very long time which has not had typos, or incorrect words in it.

I've actually got into the habit of making a note of all errors I come across for those books I have designed covers for, and then I send the author an email saying that if they intend to ever get it re-printed to let me know first, but I don't tell them why, as I don't want to put a downer on there day now that the book is in print and it is too late to do anything about it.

If speed wasn't an issue I'd make one damn good proof reader! :o)

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I think one good proof reader is worth giving some time to...:)

Erica Lucke Dean said...

I love that you're recording it. I always read to myself outloud before considering anything complete, for that very reason. I think it's awesome that you're going to record it too. I can't wait to hear from your professional reader. Great job! Go #teamHooverDam!

Stephanie said...

Love the post! I'd love to record but the little podcast recordings I've done of one measeley page alone are horrendous. I have no voice!
But go you!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I want to post a blip of the recording here next week, but I don't know how. lol. I guess I have a week to figure it out.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I have never gotten to this step. Probably because I have never completed anything to this level before. I don't have time to do it before the competition deadline on Oct 13th, but there's no publishing as a result of winning, so whatever the outcome, I'll have to submit to publishers afterwards. I'll be doing the read out loud thing before that, though no doubt it will give my husband another reason to call me weird. Singing along with my ipod is weird. Reading my own book out loud to myself...?

First stop after the competition will be PanMcMillan Australia, who take pitches direct from writers on Mondays.

RhiannonPaille said...

I love this, and this is what I did for my book too. I'm curious about your blind professional reader :)

20 books a week is impressive!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I'm glad your curious about her! Wait until you meet her next week. :)

Jeff Bennington said...

Sounds like a fun time! I really should do that.

Suzi said...

great advice ... I always have typos, so clearly I need to apply this!

3secondgoldfish said...

This is where my language processing difficulties are actually helpful. I read everything out loud by necessity...and everything I write as well. It's also why I like to write dialogue so much; it's easier to "hear" the speakers when you literally have to hear them.

rachelintheoc.com said...

Awesome about your blind pro reader. I love that you're being so thorough and making this your baby. Kudos, Kelly!

I had my book edited & formatted professionally. Despite that, I had it reformatted again recently to fix a few styling issues, minor errors, and to add new back matter. I don't know that it will ever be truly perfect. #Sigh

Anonymous said...

The recording is a great idea, Kellinator. I did that recently (listening back with the manuscript in front of me) and wound up making several changes to dialogue. You go Kellinator!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I'm not sure that there is any such thing as perfect, Rachel. But like so many have said, we use editors, proofreaders, check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Reading out loud is just another tool in our arsenal to find errors. Reading out loud, not letting my mind compensate, especially for something that I've read a gazillion times, was time consuming, but definitely worthwhile.