Read it out loud.
It’s one of the gems of advice for writers. And being an obedient scribbler, I do. But recently I had cause to not only read out loud, but to go one step further and record a story for the AntipodeanSF radio show.
I was so pleased with how useful the act of recording was that now, as well as reading out loud, I read out loud as though I’m recording.
The reason is this: recording a story amplifies the bits that jolt and jar, those bits that might cause a reader to be distracted from the story itself. Even if it’s only a slight hiccup it takes away from the flow of sentences and the pleasure of the reading.
When you record and play back to yourself it becomes clear which words are butting up against each other, sometimes blurring into one word, or causing awkward tongue acrobatics. If it’s difficult for you to read out loud smoothly it will be difficult for a reader to read without being jarred out of the story, even if it is only for a moment.
As a result I rewrote almost every sentence of that story to make them cleaner and clearer sounding sentences that were easier to read.
A recording of this show can be listened to here – my story starts at the 8 minutes 30 secs mark if you are in a hurry 🙂
(The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is broadcast in the Nambucca Valley, on the Mid North Coast of NSW on one Sunday evening per month, on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM.)