28 January 2013

Reading Aloud

 Do you read your work out loud? Whether to a trusted friend or to yourself? Reading aloud is one of the most valuable tools anyone ever suggested to use as a writer. Not only does vocalizing your word choices allow you to catch those pesky cut and paste errors of omitted letters or typographical oopsies, it sheds a different light onto your composition. To hear the language combination brings a scene alive in a way that simply scanning words on a page visually misses. Non-fiction author and literary professor Verlyn Klinkenborg explained some of the process in an Op-Ed piece in the The New York Times:
 Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read with your lungs and diaphragm, with your tongue and lips, is very different than reading with your eyes alone. The language becomes a part of the body, which is why there is always a curious tenderness, almost an erotic quality, in those 18th- and 19th-century literary scenes where a book is being read aloud in mixed company. The words are not mere words. They are the breath and mind, perhaps even the soul, of the person who is reading.       

This past weekend I was was fortunate to be involved in a Readers' Theater presentation with Gecko Gals Ink, and one of the contributing playwrights commented that the play she co-wrote with my friend Ashleen O'Gaea  "seems funnier read aloud onstage than on paper."  She sounded wonderfully surprised by this observation. "Suddenly, Without Warning" is a funny one-act farce about actors at the mercy of the narrator of a play that veers from space adventure to Western to science fiction quite suddenly and without warning. Cast the roles with actors who love to ham it up and it was very entertaining.

I encourage you to read aloud - and as often as possible. I loved reading aloud to my son when he was small, and I enjoy reading my works in progress with one of my closest friends. It gives me a chance to try and experience the story from a different perspective and see if the emotions I hoped to convey shine through the language I've chosen. I enjoyed doing readings at signings, so I'm looking forward to March 3, 2013 when I'll be reading from my works at the The Los Angeles St. David's Day Festival - National Day of Wales at  Barnsdall Art Park.
Read with more than your eyes and fully experience the joy of storytelling, whether the book is of your own creation of not. It will enrich your experience and strengthen both your joy of reading and your writing.


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