By: Stephanie Burkhart
Have you ever considered revising your work by reading it out loud with a group of friends? This method accomplishes much by getting feedback and identifying errors.
Writing tends to be a solitary endeavor. When you’ve finished your project, it’s essential to get feedback during the editing/revision phase. One way to do this is to invite a couple of your close friends over for a “Read Out Loud.”
Reading out loud benefits every writer. You read words differently out loud than you do when you’re silent reading. Invite a couple of your friends whom you trust over to give you honest feedback. You manage the amount, but too many friends might defeat the purpose.
Prepare drinks and light snacks for your guests to thank them for their time. If your work is a novel, only plan to read a part of it. (preferably the part where you might be struggling) and print copies for all involved.
Reading out loud offers several ways to improve:
It gives you a reason to meet with friends you might have neglected while writing.
It gives perspective. Do your jokes work? Is everything (plot points) clear? Is characterization consistent?
How is your pacing? Slow in places or does it gloss over important information too quickly?
Your friends make a great “beta” audience. They have your best interests at heart. You may feel a little discomfort sharing your work – don’t. They want to help you.
Read the passage first. Take notes as your friends read. Notice if they appear bored or engage, restless or attentive. After they read, ask questions. (make sure you write them down before the reading)
Questions might include:
Is this offensive?
Do you see foreshadowing?
Is it romantic?
Listen to them and write down their feedback. Stay neutral. Don’t be offended when they offer you constructive criticism. Take it all in.
Remember some suggestions might contradict. You don’t have to use everything. Look at the project and see what improves the work.
Question for you: Has anyone ever done this? Does it work for you? What do you like about the format? Can you trust the feedback you receive?
Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Her 4RV stories include “The Giving Meadow” and “First Flag of New Hampshire.” She lives in Castaic, CA and enjoys chocolate, adores coffee and likes taking walks around the lake. She’s a den leader for her son’s Cub Scout Den.
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Reference for this blog article: Writer’s Digest, January 2015, “Inkwell: Revising Out Loud,” by Joe Stollenwerk, pages 8-9.