Saturday, 20 April 2013

Reading out loud

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who left such lovely comments about me on Alex's blog the other day... A few people - I was embarrassed to realise - I hadn't visited for a while, so I'll rectify that soon. And welcome to the new followers resulting from that post, it's great to meet you and I'm looking forward to getting to know you.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm doing a reading on Tuesday (argh! so close!). I chose the story, printed it out in 14pt (just in case I get a sudden attack of fear-related blindness), and read it out loud...

"OH HECK!" I thought, or words to that effect. It was awful. The words stumbled over each other, there were too many trying to fill my mouth at once, my voice sounded flat. And there I was thinking this was one of the best stories ever! "I'm a bad writer, I should just stop writing right now!"

But, luckily, I had another thought... I've spent the last fourteen years reading bedtime stories. My kids are growing out of it now, which I miss, but the other night Youngest was feeling poorly and asked for a story. We reverted to my all-time favourite Monkey Puzzle. (This is very closely followed by A Squash and a Squeeze.) Such an easy story in verse to read, and so easy for young kids to join in on the repetition.

Sorry, I side-tracked a bit - over those fourteen years I've also read stories that I've found difficult to read, and three pop into my head straight away: Mr Men stories, Thomas the Tank Engine and Harry Potter. I struggled to read all of these aloud even though they flow so well when I read them silently. No one would say these are badly written, but they just don't work quite so well when the words are spoken.

"Hmmm," I thought this time, "perhaps the style needs to differ between stories designed to be read silently and those to be read aloud." And then I felt much better.

The advice I've read for a very long time has been to read your work out as part of the editing process, but I've decided that this ain't necessarily so. (On the tally of writing rules I've broken, I'm up to about fifteen now!)

I'm off to find a different story to read on Tuesday.
What are your thoughts about reading aloud? Am I wrong to break that editing rule?
Are there stories - your own/kids books etc - that you struggle to read aloud?

35 comments:

  1. Great post and I'm pleased I found you through Alex.
    Yvonne.

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  2. Hi Annalisa .. not having kids I haven't read that many stories out loud - but have always loved doing so .. and laughing with the kids, or making appropriate noises to accentuate the storyline ...

    You'll do fine on Tuesday - give it welly!! pause for thought .. and give it more welly ...

    Actually thinking about it - of course I've been reading out loud - talking or reading to mother these last few years ... and now other elderly - we adapt to our audience .. slower, louder, eye contact and laughter ready to ply the storyline with extra verve ..

    Enjoy - cheers Hilary

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    1. Reading aloud to keep the audience engaged can be hard. More than once I remember my kids simply walking away from me, or turning over in bed and closing their eyes!!

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  3. I've read a lot of my own stories aloud when I'm editing, or just trying to work out what's supposed to come next.

    And I think most writing rules were meant to be broken. =)

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  4. When I started to write, I learned the rules and followed them religiously. Then I realized the people being published didn't follow the rules, and many of their books had flowing prose that concentrated on telling the story and were much more of a pleasure to read than mine. Now, I try to use the skills I've learned, but I don't chain myself to rules. Mechanics are less important than plot, character, and pacing.
    Good luck on the reading! :-)

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    1. I think it's good to know the rules so you're aware you're breaking them, and know why!

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  5. Good luck on Tuesday. I know you can do it. :)

    I read out loud a lot; to my kids, to their classrooms, to my kids in Sunday School, to myself for editing purposes. Practicing reading out loud, I think helps a lot. The more familiar you are with something, the less likely you will be to stumble over the words.

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    1. I've got much better over the years, reading to my kids, but there was just something slightly skewed with the first story I chose that it didn't read well. I still remember the horror that was reading out loud at school - Shakespeare mostly - urgh!

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  6. Annalisa - I have difficulty keeping up with my followers and I have less than a hundred. How could you possibly visit all yours?
    As for reading out loud - sometimes it is only by reading my own work aloud that I can get it right, especially dialogue.

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    1. I keep my fingers crossed that my followers will visit me in an attempt to lure me back if I haven't been around for a while... I'm not sure that's the most proactive way to do it :-/

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  7. I do tend to read my writing out aloud when I'm editing but then as most of my work is for children I guess I should always aim for read-aloud-ability! Good luck with your reading, I'm sure you'll be great. Look forward to hearing how it goes.

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    1. "Read-aloud-ability" <-- love that! Thanks :-D

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  8. Glad you had so many nice comments and visitors!!
    I just read the dialogue out loud so I can hear the awkward parts.

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    1. I suppose, out of everything, dialogue is a good part to say out loud!

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  9. Don't worry, I can't keep up with everyone either.

    Some stories flow and are suited for storytellers. Some are just better suited for readers.

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  10. I usually only read my dialogue out loud. That does need to sound natural, but sometimes prose and inner dialogue don't sound right when read out loud. And that's okay. You're right about Thomas being so hard to read out loud. (I also think the TV show is so boring!)

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    1. I'm glad other people find some prose sounds wrong when it's read out. I'm feeling much better now. My kids were luckily never into the TV show.

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  11. I always read my blog posts out loud to my husband--he he hates it, but I make him endure it anyway. And all I learned is, is that some days I can read it flawlessly and some days I'm toungue tied...:)It's a crap shoot!

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    1. Lo, I have visions of your chasing your husband around the house now! I've noticed the randomness of my reading skills too :-(

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  12. Reading my work out loud really is useful. I just haven't done much of it. I need to get more in the habit of it.

    I've read work out in front of a group before - it wasn't easy. But easier than standing UP in front fo people and talking, 'cause I was sitting down. hehe

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    1. Great tip... I'll try to sit down, and maybe hide behind a stack of chairs or the library counter :-)

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  13. I honestly can't imagine reading my work out loud in front of a group. Public speaking is such a phobia of mine! But I know it's something I really need to work on and get over.

    Good luck with your reading!! :)

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    1. Lol... mentioning the word 'phobia' isn't helpful :-D

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  14. Thanks for your lovely comment, the reason I chose this version of the song was because it was no.1 in our UK charts at the time of the event I wrote about.
    Actually later in his career Frank played at The Grand Ole Opry at Nashville.
    I will listen to the version you told me about later on.
    Yvonne.

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    1. I thought I knew most of the UK music, but apparently my knowledge is lacking.

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  15. Reading aloud is critical. I don't do it as often as I should. I try to do it before I send it to readers. I always do a final check before querying.

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    1. I think I'll definitely be reading my work out loud more, as part of the editing process. I've learnt a lot in the last couple of days.

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  16. Greetings human Annalisa,

    I read out loud to my humans. You should here my Liverpudlian accent when I read them "Thomas the Tank Engine."

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

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  17. I think all editing rules are made to be broken. I find reading aloud works, but if you don't why bother?

    :-)

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  18. I've never read my stories out loud. I'm with you. That rule is meant to be broken ;) haha

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  19. I do read my stories out loud, mainly to find where I get tripped up and see if I can rectify that, but also with the thought in mind that one day this might be an audio book!!! I am with you though on rules meant to be broken... Thanks for the comment on my blog. Hope you're enjoying the A to Z challenge!

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  20. Wishing you lots of luck for tonight!

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Please comment - I love a good chat!