Last Thursday I sent my manuscript to the publisher after my editor and I whittled it down to under 85,000 words. Whew! That was a challenge. Molly Jo sent me edits and I rewrote and reworked and rejected edits in turn. Over the years my novel has been critiqued by many writers and editors. I’d cut out 20,000 plus words over time only to find in the rewriting and reworking I’d added them back. (Bummer!!)
Read for flow
So, during out final edit together Molly Jo helped me carve away 20,000 plus words so we were under 84,000. It was painful to see my delicious paragraphs of description reduced to a few sentences. But the story was leaner and stronger without them. Once I’d gone through those last edits, I set it aside for a few days. I knew I had to do one last thing. Oh Dread! I needed to read the manuscript out loud. It’s not like I haven’t read it at least 50 times over the years as I’ve honed my writing craft on every word. Why bother to read it again and out loud for that matter. Because I must. At least every published author I know told me they did. They claim you can feel how will it flows when you do.
I needed a few days break between the completion of the rework and reading it out loud to give it fresh eyes and be in the right frame of mind. This is the same thing I did when I first received edits from Molly Jo. I put it off until I felt ready to tackle the inevitable. Waiting for my attitude to mellow. (My life is full of drama unrelated to my novel. I didn’t want irritation or sadness to affect my view of these precious words.)
Hearing my words helped
So on Tuesday night I started reading. I read most of Wednesday and on Thursday night I finished. It was awesome. I found a few phrases that needed fixing. A section I rewrote and another I deleted. (It was one Molly Jo suggested needed to go but I fought it.) Reading it out loud revealed so much to me. When I finished, I felt good about the end result. I am confident the publisher will find other things to tweak. I expect that. A burden lifted off my shoulders when I finally sent the final draft off.
Read outloud often through out the process
Read sections you are having trouble with as you crafted your novel. You’ll be amazed how much easier it will be to fix those tough sections when you hear your words. Find a quiet place to read it out loud or ask someone to read it to you. Hearing someone else read it can really help you see errors and flabby scenes. I’ve been told there are programs that read to you. After reading through this time, I am going to do my research on those products for my next novel. However you do it, read your novel out loud often, especially the final draft. You’ll be glad you did.
What has your experience been with reading your WIP outloud?
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