One down side of completing all of these edits in isolation is that you can lose the overall flow or the essential voice of the piece. The best way to test for overall flow is to read out loud. Oh yes, that’s right – all 100,000 words of your thick-spined novel.
A daunting physical task?
Yes it is. But drink plenty of water, limit yourself to a couple of hours at a time and have a few mints to suck.
Some advantages of reading aloud
Because you’re reading more slowly you are more likely to notice typos, missing words, spelling mistakes and punctuation mistakes.
You will also notice odd phrases that don’t quite work.
The rhythm of the piece will also show up. Are there too many short or long sentences together? Does a paragraph go on for too long?
Should you have an audience?
Well you could try your cat. Mine used to give me a funny look when I started reading out loud but then she would start purring, Unbelievable, perhaps, she would fall asleep or walk out of the room at precisely those parts where the language jarred or where something was amiss and it made me hesitant. Alas, she is no more and we currently have no other pet. I have to make do with my miniature Buddhas.
But here’s another suggestion. Make a video recording of you reading. When you come across a tricky bit you don’t need to stop and alter the text. You can do that when you go back and listen to or watch your recording. It is good to watch yourself. If you notice a sudden frown there is probably something that needs altering in the text.
It’s an added bonus anyway. You can see what you look like when you’re reading and maybe cultivate something that looks really good.
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