Sunday, January 25, 2015

Self Editing Your Work

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?
Identify errors.
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. 
Find me at:






Reference for this blog article: Writer’s Digest, January 2015, “Inkwell: Revising Out Loud,” by Joe Stollenwerk, pages 8-9.



  1. Great tips, especially reading the work aloud. My critique group meets every week and we do these things. Their feedback is beyond helpful and each person has their strengths. And as you said, writing can be lonely and we support each other, laugh together, cry and cheer for each other. I always recommend writers try to find a good critique group.

  2. I catch so much by reading out loud. It's weird. I can read it many times to myself & not have anything out, but then reading it out loud, something wrong pops out like a sore toe. I love the questions you ask. I'll keep a list of those. Thanks.

  3. I agree, reading out loud to knowledgeable people catches so much. Our Hornsea Writers support group does that each week, and we tend to read w-i-p, not just problematic sections. This way other members pick up, not just on the technicalities of the language, but whether characters are acting/speaking within their individual remits, or using the correct register for their backgrounds.

    Great post, Steph. Keep it up!

  4. We have a few great critique groups in the Tulsa area and we do these things. They do work. Also, we let our computers read to us. The computer voices might be a bit monotonous, but they don't skip or add words and they read the punctuation as it is (excluding exclamation marks). It's also easier to figure out if you've repeated words in close proximity when the computer says the word the same way every time, which makes it stand out a little more easily.

  5. I read my work out loud, especially in a troubled spot. I also do things like read only the dialogue from one character through the entire book to check for continuity and speech patterns.

    Nice article, Steph.

  6. Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'm glad to hear it's a tip that works well.


  7. Although I often read my WIP aloud, I don't think I would want to do it with others present. I've done it at a retreat for Carolina Romance Writers and I found it nerve wracking. I've tried critique groups in the past and I'm afraid they're not for me. I find them confusing, conflicting, and counterproductive. I much prefer a beta reader. But what works for me, doesn't work for others. Some authors are very happy with critique groups and find them beneficial. I do agree, however, that reading your work aloud is very helpful--especially dialogue, Good article, Steph.

  8. I enjoyed your article. My critique group does this. Each person reads 1-2 chapters out loud to the others at each meeting. It is a great tool for identifying problems, especially with dialogue. Good advice!

  9. The critiques at my semi-monthly RWA meetings come in handy. A member reads 20 pages out loud, while the other members also follow along on printed sheets. We make constructive comments about the good and bad things about the pages, and then also make comments out loud. It's a great learning experience.

  10. your blog content is very nice and helpful to understand better. thanks for sharing this post.
    If you are looking for a legitimate business opportunity, there is a good chance.
    PLR eBooks