Publishing 101: Read Out Loud

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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I began reading my work out loud more than a dozen years ago. Each time I complete this task it reminds me of the importance of this step.

It took me three and a half hours to read Fowl Summer Nights, so this step takes only a little longer to complete than silently reading the story.

Reading aloud revealsReading aloud reveals issues with flow and words that just don’t sound great together. I had edited Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove numerous times, but until I read it aloud, I hadn’t realised Ellis and Alice sounded almost exactly alike. Since they were two of four main characters who had a lot of air time together, it was important their names not only looked distinct but also sounded differently. This was a children’s chapter book, which meant it was quite possible a parent would read it to a child. In the end, I changed Alice to Shona to make her stand out.

I can’t stress enough how important this step is in my editing process. I read aloud everything from my 500-word genealogy column to my 160,000-word fantasy novel. If you have never read your work aloud, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

This completes this step in the Draft to Book in 30 Days challenge.

Next Post Publishing 101: Spell and Grammar Check


10 thoughts on “Publishing 101: Read Out Loud

  1. I’ve never thought of doing this. Can you let us know how long it took you to complete the reading out loud of your 160,000 word fantasy? I’m currently working on a fantasy that will probably end up in the same word count range, and for some reason, I find the idea intimidating.

    Do you make notes as you go along, or make the changes right away?


    • I’m a slow quiet reader, so it probably didn’t take me much longer to read out loud. In my notes I see it took me three hours to quietly read about 20,000 words, and three and a half to read out loud that text. So 160,000 words would mean it would take me 24 hours to quietly read the text and about 28 hours to read it out loud. This is usually broken down into four to five days, and I keep a tea or water near me to keep me from going dry. The bonus of reading fantasy out loud–for me–is that I love the way the words flow and the action. I like reading other genres, but I love reading the fantasy out loud, so for me it is enjoyable. I also love to get into character and switch voice tones.

      I think if you take it one chapter at a time, it won’t be so intimidating, and once you start, you might find you like it, particularly when you see the benefits.

      I usually make changes as I go, but I do keep a notepad nearby to make notes of certain issues. For example, if I decide to change a character’s name, I note that. Later I’ll find a better name, and do a search and replace. Anything that moves me away from where I am in the novel is done later.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for your comment, Bea.


  2. Reading out loud is one of the best editing techniques. I read out loud when my first draft of a manuscript is complete. Often, I catch awkward sentence flow and I also see how certain characters begin to sound the same. Great advice.


    • Thanks, Lysa. I think when a writer first hears this advice they are sceptical, but when they try it they discover the advantages. Reading out loud has helped me discover missing words, double words, wrong verb tenses and tongue twisters.


  3. After finishing the editing on my first manuscript, I tried reading out loud as a final thing. It really worked and I totally agree with you. I cannot recommend enough how reading out loud is such a useful and free editing tool 😀


    • Thanks, Harliqueen. Perhaps those still on the fence about this will realise it is worth it after many people agree that reading out loud is a great thing. The only thing is I like to be alone when I read. The kids now know when I start reading, it might be a while, so they leave the room simply because they don’t want to listen to me. A few times I read things I wanted them to hear, and I can see their ears perk up. lol


  4. I am a huge believer in reading your work out loud. It is amazing what you discover when you do that. I read my work out loud at my critique group and they point out things I had missed. I also teach my students to read their resume and cover letter out loud before submitting. Great advice.


    • Thanks, Darlene. We are so attached to our work, it’s difficult to see the mistakes. I tell all writers I talk with that they should read out loud. A few said they don’t like the sound of their voice. I tell them it doesn’t matter. I also suggest adding an accent to liven things up. I usually fall back on the Scottish accent or something near there. I read out my resumes, too, and important emails.


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