Some of my colleagues here have made great posts on the topic of ‘rules’ when it comes to writing, and how they’re meant to be broken. All those ‘You must do this’ such as ‘write what you know’ and ‘never us adverbs’ etc. etc. One of the ones I saw a lot when I first started writing was ‘read your work aloud’ to yourself. The idea is if you do so, things that don’t sound natural will jump out at you. This is one of the rules I agree with, because I’ve done it, and did find myself reworking sentences and cutting words afterward. The problem is…I don’t really do it. Not often.
But I have, and therefore I can say it does have merit. One time long ago when I was on a kick of reading my work back to myself aloud, I didn’t realize my husband had a friend over, along with her three-year-old daughter. The little girl came running into my office and scolded me, “Stop being angry!” Apparently I was a bit emphatic in my reciting.
And that’s probably why I don’t do it often. It’s an extra step, it feels kind of silly, and it makes more work. Why? Because every time I’ve done it I HAVE found sentences that sounded wrong. So there’s the catch. It’s a rule that I agree is beneficial to a writer, but one I don’t often adhere to myself. So in pondering this, I’ve decided I’m going to try to do this more often, perhaps limiting it to when something on the page feels a little off to me. Because I don’t want to audibly sound angry for three hundred pages, to be honest. But I’m going to try.
So if you’re new to writing, and wondering if this little nugget of wisdom works, yes, it does. It forces you to hear how the words flow, and catch any clunky bits that might have been less obvious on the page. Just try to make sure the house is empty first, so you don’t scare children – unless you write children’s books of course. Then bellow away!