As young children many of us were lucky enough to enjoy a bedtime story, read to us by our parents and many of us will have kept up this tradition. But once a child is able to read competently the gift of being read to somehow slips away. You don’t necessarily miss it as it’s part of you growing independent but I think there is a magic in being read to that disappears.
I have been known on occasion to partake of a frivolous extra holiday with a female friend and during those we would read to each other. Often it was magazine articles although some of the glossies are mainly photographs in which case it’s very difficult to make a soap stars kitchen sound exciting. However, it was still a relaxing and pleasurable experience all the same. At the time we felt it was the height of laziness!
I am in my second year of attending a local ‘Writing Fiction’ class where, those that would like to, read out short pieces or extracts each week for feedback and critique. As a new writer it is totally terrifying to read out your own work to twelve people (give me a PowerPoint deck, a microphone and five hundred in the audience any day!) However, as one of the listeners it is an enriching experience. Hearing something written and read by the author, usually for the very first time is quite a privilege and we are lucky enough to have a talented group of writers so each piece is a gem.
You also learn about how the writer wanted the scene to come across by the tone and intonation of their voice something you most likely wouldn’t get from just reading it cold off the page. As the writer when you hear the piece read out you spot things that maybe don’t quite work, the rhythm and in particular dialogue.
We recently did an exercise where we each wrote a short piece of 250 words on the same subject and our tutor read them out. It was fascinating to hear someone else read out your work. It also made me really think about the words I was using and the rhythm. The exercise was meant to help us see that our voices were developing but in reality we all struggled to identify the authors!
As a writer I think there is a definite benefit in hearing your work so even reading out loud to yourself will help in this respect. I do this quite regularly and especially for dialogue. It is also an excellent cover for when you are talking to yourself as you can pass it off as a clever editing tool.
Bella has just finished her first novel, Acting on Impulse, which earned her a runner-up place for the New Talent Award at the 2013 Festival of Romance. Every fortnight, Bella will be sharing her experiences and advice as a new author. She also has her own blog which you can visit by clicking here.
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.
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