I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post again, dear blog followers and droppers by! I’ve been deep, deep into editing mode. One of the things I do as an agent is to read my clients’ manuscripts with an eye toward polishing them to a high sheen before submitting them to editors. I fix obvious problems and make a LOT of suggestions in the margins. And then I write an editorial letter and send it all back to the author.
A suggestion that I invariably end up making (well, 9 times out of 10) is that the author should either read the manuscript out loud or even better, have someone else read it out loud to them. I want them to get down to hearing just the words that are down on the paper. When you hear something read out loud, without inflection, you can hear if the words are doing their job. And when you listen to your own words, read by somebody else, you are more apt to hear where something isn’t working.
I invite all writers to do the same. Have someone read your work to you. Take a pad and write down when something isn’t working, when it sounds “off,” or inauthentic. Pretend they’re not your words. Ask yourself, as you listen, if your characters sound like themselves. They should sound the way you imagined them, even when someone else is reading them to you. Notice, as you listen, whether you’re bored or excited or worried or afraid or cracking up as you hear the words you’ve written.
How do you check whether your writing is working?