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The Power of the Ear

How many words are there in the entire universe yet, in an 86,000 word novel, how many times in the last, read-aloud review have I run across the same word used again within a breath of itself?

“You, in point of fact, are still over dry land,” my observant friend pointed out.

Or words with an unintended rhyming effect:

“Not kill. Enjoy And you’d like for me to join you?”

Or words that are spelled one way—barbed wire—and a different way when repeated: barbwire.

Honestly, this is exactly the type of thing a final review should catch. What’s so frustrating is that this is not my first “final” review. I’ve done a final review. I paid an editor to do a final review. Yet, there it is, my small-town Mississippi heroine using five dollar words that she would never use; a reference to advance bookings that is no longer part of the plot; a segue into a new thought that needs more preparation.

You might have found differently, but for me the ONLY way to catch most of these is to read the document aloud. I hate doing this. It’s incredibly time-consuming. It’s boring (which is why I’ve now stopped to write a blog post.) Yet, it’s essential.

The read-aloud should be done last, I think, because it really is a polishing of your final revision. Of course, it’s hard to know when something is a final revision (see above). Having read a prior final revision aloud, I can be tempted to skip the read-aloud on the current final revision.

I shouldn’t, and I’m not. I’m just writing this post to remind myself of that.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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Comments (4)

  • Sooo annoying. I do that thing where I use the same word within 3/5 of a second–but in a different way. I think it’s the poet in me ;).

  • I recently had a group of people read one of my stories out loud while I was present. So many times I wanted to grab the document and a pen to scratch out some of the same types of things you mentioned above. It was such a valuable experience, and kinda trippy hearing my words come expertly out of someone else’s mouth. It made my writing almost seem real. 🙂

  • Ellen Morris Prewitt

    You know, other than a writing teacher, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced someone reading my work aloud – and the first time a teacher did it, the only reason I didn’t faint is because I didn’t want to let the class know how much it meant to me!

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