The Friday before Mother’s Day my wife and I had her parents and mine over for dinner. I grilled chicken breasts, we had asparagus and potatoes. We also had cobbler, pie and coffee for desert. Once everyone was fat and happy I read one of my latest short stories for them. Everyone was entertained – at least they said they were (of course a friendlier audience simply does not exist) – and I was reminded how reading aloud is a window on editing.
There is a lot in your writing that is invisible. You’ve experienced it. You read over something a dozen times and then hand it off to a friend and they find a glaring error within thirty seconds. Reading work out loud is one of the best ways for you to hear what you can’t see. It is not that you expect your readers to read your work aloud – of course if they want to read your books to their friends you might as well enable this behavior. No, the point is that you can hear the invisible rough edges in the tone and voice of your work, the unsanded planks, untrue joints, even the bold typos and awkward tags. Your ear is another reader. And it may be one of your best editors.
It is hard to read your work aloud. Usually by the time you get to this point with the piece you are sick of working on it. And you definitely know it too well to want to listen to your own voicing of it. But do it anyway. You’ll find edits that are hidden to you now.