One of the things certified-smart-people tell you is that you should read out loud what you write. Err, read out loud to yourself if you don’t want to experience the fun of soft walls and milk once a week…
I can’t argue with this advice…crap, I won’t argue with it.
The spoken word is very, very different from the written. It is much easier to get a sense of the rhythm and pace of a passage – whether you wrote it or not – by speaking it than it is by reading.
Even better: run-on sentences and overly complex clauses & wordplay will become very quickly apparent as soon as you try to read aloud. If you can’t do a sentence in a single breath, it is not only too long, it is way too long.
That isn’t why I’m writing this post.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, the above is good advice. Shit, I wish it was my advice. It isn’t. I have undoubtedly heard/read it from many sources, but the one that really sticks with me is a literary agent named Janet Reid.
If you are not in search of an agent, you’ve likely never heard of her.
I love that woman to death, and she isn’t even my agent. She is, however, brilliant…and one hell of a source of wisdom for new writers.
Please, just trust me on this: visit both of Janet’s blogs (her personal/agent-ish one and QueryShark). No, really…just do it. She is the single best resource out there for a new writer. I’m willing to be a whore for whoever will help me succeed, but Janet is…well…the elite.
Okay, back to the point.
Reading out loud.
I do this. It helps.
But, why, for the love of fuck and all that is holy, do I read my own stuff sounding like the narrator from Dukes of Hazard (the show, not the movie)?
Christ-on-a-hockeystick, I’m not even from the goddamned South!
I’m from California! I can surf, for fuck’s sake!
So just why the hell am I sitting here reading the scenes about Connor in jail and sounding like Waylon-freaking-Jennings?!?
On the other hand, I do have to admit, that (entirely fake) accent does force me to slow down and focus on the words and emphases in my sentences.
Shit, maybe it ain’t so bad after all…
Those Duke boys, they was only out to have themselves a good time…