Speak What You Write

This is the first in a series of WRITING TIPS for professionals who are not trained writers. 

New writers are often surprised to learn that practiced writers routinely read their writing aloud not just to themselves, but to other people. Whether it’s in person or over the phone to a trusted friend or colleague, speaking your writing will IMMEDIATELY provide you with the following information:

  • Readability. If you are stumbling or tongue-tied, then your readers will be, too. Write like you talk.
  • Message. Overall, does the writing make sense and get your point across?
  • Flow. Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Tone. Do the language and tone match your intention, your audience, and your message? Too flowery? Too much jargon?
  • Reader Fatigue. Are you trying to jam too much into one paragraph? Are your sentences varied in length?
  • Gut Check. What does your gut say while you are reading? Notice your own energy and attention.

I read aloud the first chapter of a fiction piece to a fellow writer friend recently via phone. Now, this was a novel that I wrote eight years ago and re-edited earlier in the summer. Before the call I was feeling, dare I say, cocky. Within three paragraphs, I tossed up a white flag and stopped. My gut forbid my mouth from saying another word. I HATED EVERYTHING I WAS SAYING. Not the plot; that was fine. But the words were all wrong. Back to the editing table!

That, my friends, is why we don’t write on a desert island.

Don’t stop with speaking the words. Ask the listener for feedback.

  • Can you summarize what happened in the story (fiction) or summarize the main points (non-fiction)?
  • At any point did you lose interest? Where?
  • At any point were you confused? Where?

Stay tuned for more tips! Have a special request, don’t hesitate to email me or post your comment below.

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