Reading as Writers
Contributed by MRW Member Diana Admire
Consider yourself lucky if you had a parent who read to you. I do. Mom made it a morning tradition that before school we had devotions. She read one chapter of her current choice of book, and then we’d pray to begin our day. I remember begging her to continue on stories I enjoyed. Books like Heidi, and Little House on the Prairie come to mind.
That was eons ago. Today, Mom is still reading voraciously, and she keeps me on the hunt for books to supply her habit. I can still hear the inflexion of her voice filled with emotion, suspense and fun.
This brings me to my latest thoughts about writing.
I can see the scene in my mind, I hear the voices of dialogue in my head. But the real edits come when I read it out loud. I ask myself, is that something that character would say, or am I interjecting my own voice as the author? Has the character said anything like that before? Am I repeating myself?
Reading out loud also helps discover the silly typos like this…
What I if said
you read the
top line wrong?
Of course, the top line should read: What if I said. Often there’s a missing is, a needed that.
So, my quick tip?
Have someone read your words to you and listen, or read them to yourself out loud.
Using another sense brings a whole other level to the work you are doing. Patti has listened to me dictate chapters and scenes and I hear my mistakes as I read. Then as she reads them, I find even more. She makes a concentrated effort to NOT inflect any emotion, which tells me the reader needs to see and feel the emotion with more descriptive words. I tend to forget that.
That also brings me back to Mom. This last weekend she was talking about an old T.V. show she watched. It was an episode of Leave it to Beaver. If you remember the characters you can see them. Larry struggled to read a poem about a tree. The same poem Judy the know-it-all put so much inflection and emotion and gestures into the words it sounded like a dramatic play. Then Beaver (bless his heart) Read the same words with the feeling of his heart. Because he had a tree planted for him when he was a baby and loved the idea of the poem the audience could feel the emotion. All three sounded different.
We as writers cannot know how a reader hears the words we write on the page. We must inflect emotion and atmosphere without knowing how it sounds.
Try a text to voice reader, or have someone narrate to you. It brings the scenes to life. I have listened to audio books that I’d previously read, and always have a different experience. I enjoyed the listen more than the read. My point is We as writers need to read, listen and write. Any writer who doesn’t read, never improves.
As I prepare on this chilly autumn morning, I hope my tone and words reflect the hope, happiness and warmth of the moment all day long. Keep writing, and reading.
All the best, Diny.