The Importance of Reading Out Loud

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned about creative writing is the importance of reading your work out loud. I am not referring to reading the finished product to an audience. I am talking about reading your draft out loud, to yourself.

When I was writing my young adult novel, when I finished a scene, after I was reasonably sure the words were just the ones I wanted, that my dialogue was natural, that my grammar and spelling were correct, I would print out the scene, and in my office, alone, like a performance artist, I would act out the scene, reading out loud, using the voices of the narrator and each character. If someone had seen me they would have probably thought I was nuts. But this was a sure fire way of finding out what sections of the scene needed work.

Reading a piece of fiction or poetry out loud, you hear it with the ear of the reader. Sentences that need pauses, words that require inflection or emphasis, the dialogue between two characters, rise up off the page in a way they simply can’t do by reading the work silently.