Sunday, May 1

Reading Aloud

I like to read stories I enjoy to other people, introduce them to characters and plots that have grabbed me, and hook and reel them in too.

The act of reading aloud is a powerful tool, whether it is your own writing or a book you enjoy.

Hooking a Resistant Reader

When I fall for a book – and fall hard – I want other people to read it too. I tell them about the book, show them the book and make them hold the book. I even offer to lend them the book. If I am in a book store with someone, I pick the book off the shelf and say, 'This is a good book.' They usually give it a look over but it doesn't often have much of an impact.

So much for word-of-mouth...but wait! I'm not quite done with my victim...I mean, target reader.

It doesn't take strapping someone down to a chair or sitting on them (well, not that I have come across so far) but all you need to do is pick up the book and begin to read it to them. If the author has the skills, the intrigue will transcend.

This is how I get people to read books that they otherwise wouldn't be interested in or "don’t feel like reading at the moment." All I have to do is hook them in with the beginning of the story and the moment is triumphant. They want to know what happens next.

Opening a World to a Reader

Sometimes it isn't enough to just hook a reader into a book and watch them gobble it up. If you really love a book, it might be something you want to experience again with someone else. Seeing their eyes light up and hear their exclamation at twists and turns that you have already experienced is a wonderful sensation.

When I have read and enjoyed a book, I sometimes like to introduce the book to another person...and read the whole thing to them. It's heaps of fun. Whether I'm reading to someone younger, older or the same age as me, there is still that excitement and extra layer of enjoyment.

Dramatising the Literary World

Characters can charm and dialogue can dazzle with wit, but lending a story your voice can help to bring an imaginary world to life. If you have a flair for the dramatic or want to bring the sounds in your head (not the crazy ones, the ones when you read...if there is a difference) to life, it's a wonderful sensation to act out every role and scene in the novel.

Remember that when you are reading a novel there is no 'over-the-top' or 'inside voice.' When you are setting out to have a little fun and do justice to the story, there is no holding back. Just make sure that you check on the faint-of-heart near climactic moments of the plot, or let people know that you are reading a book. My mother once rushed into the room because I yelled 'KILL ME' when I was reading to a friend. I'm not sure she even heard the words as much as she was just startled by yelling. I think I nailed it.

Squashing the Stumbles

There are books that I have read that exclaimed perfection on the page but when I tried to read them aloud, I found myself stumbling over words and sentence structure. The fact is, that what may be easy to absorb on the page, isn't always so easy to read out loud.

I love the idea of reading books aloud to other people, so when I am writing I like to read what I have written aloud to see if it translates well when spoken. For instance, short sentences may capture my attention easily but when I try to give them a voice they can have a very stop-start feel. The same goes for seemingly-fluid sentences that I can't wrap my tongue around as well as I can wrap my brain around.

Read your own writing out loud to see how well it flows or if it makes sense to the ear. If a character is thinking something, italics may cut it for the eye but it may be confusing as to whether they are speaking the thought aloud if you are listening to it on an audio book.

Catching Mistakes

Skim reading is something that we all catch ourselves doing. Well, I know I do. It's a very naughty habit to have. Whether you are bored (never a good sign!) or just over-excited to discover an aspect of the plot, it happens.

When you are reading aloud, however, it is not really something you can do without spewing out gibberish. Reading aloud means that you will catch what you might have missed and when you are the one doing the articulation, it is impossible for your mind to wander.

Typos in published works may be something you notice when you are silent-mode reading but when it comes to your own writing, you often miss these things. This is because your mind already knows what is coming next and doesn't hone in on typing mistakes or "and and" issues. These things become blatantly obvious when you read them aloud and it makes the editing process a lot easier.


I'm not sure if it's liking the sound of my own voice (the way I hear it, not how it sounds on play-back) or revelling in the fact that I have written something I like, but I enjoy reading my blog posts and fiction aloud to myself. That's right, no one else is around, I just read it to myself. More than once. In a row. When sentence structure is all right and there are no more typos, I keep reading it just to be sure. It helps me to see how it might come across to a new reader without a potential reader actually being around.

Okay, I'll say it. It's pure vanity. Just like when you catch yourself walking along the street with your head permanently turned sideways while you check out your reflection in the glass windows of shops (not that I do that or anything) vanity can hit when it comes to your own writing...or just reading aloud from a book you love. Yes, I sometimes practice the art of reading a book aloud so that when the opportunity to pounce on a potential victim reader strikes, I have rehearsed for the role.

What? You don't do that? Hmm... Maybe you should try it. It's very satisfying.


Read Aloud Dad said...

Love this post!

Reading aloud is indeed a fabulous activity both for the reader and listener(s).

Thanks for promoting reading aloud activities.

Read Aloud Dad

Celesta said...

hah! you are most amusing, I must say! When editing I totally read things aloud as the flow of words is particularly important to me. Plus, when I read aloud, especially to myself, it comes out in a British accent...things just sound better that way! New Follower!