Some Thoughts on Reading Aloud

So my friend, over at Metuiteme, has a post about reading aloud and, upon reading it, I felt a need to comment. And the comment ran long and has become the following post:
I love reading stuff aloud. I read to my wife and, recently, my sweetheart. It’s a really lovely way to share stuff – time and space, for a start, but also things like cosmology, and the beautiful secret meanings of Things that, because they live in a story you shared, take on a new significance in day-to-day life as well. Bees. Red yarn. Crow feathers. Black thorns and red, red petals.
I didn’t start reading aloud to people until I was 30, so this is still a new and wonderful thing for me. But I’ve been writing to read aloud, if that makes sense, for much, much longer. Ursula has that essay in The Wave In The Mind about trying to find Deathless Prose and the roll of vowels and stuff that can give you something almost like an internal rhyme scheme in sentence form. I’ve been writing towards that goal since highschool, if not earlier.
I very definitely think it has something to do with the structure of the language. I can read Terry Pratchett (who also writes accents) out loud just fine, for example. I get the feeling that JKR wrote the Harry Potter books, particularly the first three of them, to be the kind of books that kids who were fairly new to reading novels, and also to reading silently inside their heads, would be able to devour on their own rather than have read to them. I don’t know if that was relevant to how she chose to word her prose, but it’s a thing to keep in mind. Whereas JRRT was writing a myth cycle for England, essentially, complete with poetry that was *meant* to be declaimed aloud. That and his own Classics history meaning that he’d have known Homer backwards and forwards and *that*, more than novels, would have informed his writing style. At least I suspect it would have done.
Reading aloud is a sensual thing. A sensory thing. So a LOT of the advice for erotica-writers, specifically, includes the suggestion to read your work aloud to yourself during the editing process. It helps you find the places where you stumble, where someone else might stumble and lose the momentum of the scene because of it. It helps you find (and fix) the pacing of a scene through word choice. I find it really effective, personally.
Anyway. Reading aloud is wonderful (though keep some water on hand). Give it a shot. 🙂


Filed under Performing, prose

2 responses to “Some Thoughts on Reading Aloud

  1. Great post! 😀

    I have read many times that I ought to read drafts aloud so as to spot rough patches, but have to date been too chicken to attempt it – sooooo self-conscious-making!

    • It’s totally self-conscious-making, but you don’t have to read it *loudly*. You can whisper under your breath, it works the same way. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s