You will not need a live audience. And you can do it anywhere.
You will need a little more time, your precious MS to hand and… a little more of your imagination? “Whaaaaat?” I hear you exclaim. “Haven’t I provided enough already, in the way of a book?”
Well, maybe, but for me, before I finally -once and for all- call time on my book and write, I really, really, really, really mean The End, I shall be doing this little exercise.
I shall be reading it out loud. Casting those words out into the atmosphere and seeing how they land.
Yep, MS in hand and I’m ready.
I could read it like a poet, steady, measured, loaded and passionate.
I could read it as a dancer, bursting to move around and be athletic with words and expression. I could play with pace, pitch, volume, pauses, emphasis, tone? How does my voice change? Do my inflections uncover fresh sympathetic meaning or not? Do they reveal another perception, perhaps? More layers to the story? Is that helpful?
I could read it as a gardener and I would ask myself, Those words I sowed all those years ago, have they developed into strong roots? Have I nurtured them to bear what they have, against the elements and time?
I could read it as a seamstress, reminding myself that the words are my cloth and I have made a garment. Are there flaws in stitching the garment together? I want to feel the words on me, how they hang, do the words have flow when swishing and swaying? Is it heavy? Is it meant to be? Have I used silk threads or safety pins? Why that fabric? Why those colours?
I could read it as a Sommelier so that a sentence is a sup of wine. Swirled on the palette, before I draw in air. Is it light, dense, fleshy or polished? Did it need to be delicate? Did it mean to be all those things I tasted?
I could read it through the eyes of a cook, painter, musician, feel free to add an artist of your choice. Perhaps you don’t want to read it as if. The thing is, no manuscript will ever be perfect and if you shake things hard enough, something will fall out. So maybe enough is enough.
But, to read it out loud seems like a good idea. I have been told that this final worthwhile exercise helps illuminate any clunky sentences, identify weaknesses, sharpens clarity of thought, highlights any problems with flow, helps to confirm or address cohesion. Equally important, it takes it out of your head and into the world.
I also plan to record myself reading it then play it back, as I hear this is good too.
Just have to get past the idea of listening to my voice.
What are your experiences?