Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 43: Read Aloud What You’ve Written.


Some writing instructors advise aspiring writers to read aloud what they’ve written. They say doing so will reveal awkward phrasing, faulty rhythm, poor word choice, and other sins.
It’s true. Sometimes.
Reading aloud is particularly apt when writing poetry, especially if that poetry is to be recited. But reading prose aloud isn’t always a good idea.
Having written a ton and a half of advertising copy over the course of some four decades, I learned long ago that writing words to be vocalized—as in radio or television commercials—is altogether different from writing words to be read—as in printed advertisements.
That’s because the brain is much more adept than the vocal cords.
Your mind can wrap itself around more complex sentence constructions, accept more assonance and consonance and alliteration without getting tongue-tied, easily switch rhythmic patterns to follow dialogue, fill in the blanks purposely created by ambiguity and other techniques to involve readers, understand sentence fragments, and on and on and on.
The written word and the spoken word are entirely different things. Different languages, almost. The trick, in both cases, is using words well. Go ahead and read your work aloud. But don’t believe for a minute that your mouth is a better arbiter of what’s right in writing than your brain.





8 comments:

  1. Brother Rod,
    As always, sir, astute distinctions throughout. For reasons still not exactly certain, have always made it a practice to read aloud almost every piece I've ever written. Just now, typing along, am mumbling the syllables as they tumble from these nun-taught, typically typing fingers. Hope the words sound apt and friendly, old bud. Sure hope they do. JB

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    1. Thanks, John. I often do the same thing. In my case it's because I can't read without moving my lips.

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    1. Nice to hear from you, Jeff, if only temporarily.

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  3. Thanks, Rod. Reading aloud helps me find skipped words sometimes, but that's about it.

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  4. That's largely what I do too. The difference is I have my PC read it in it's deadpan manner. I already know what it is supposed to say so I can't trust myself to read it correctly. My PC is ruthless and often hilarious.

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