Reading Your MS Aloud by Cecelia Dowdy

In 1994, Cecelia began writing for fun, and didn’t stop until she sold her first inspirational romance novel. She has sold thirty-seven short stories to several national women’s magazines, but hopes to one day realize her passion to sell a young adult work of fiction. Currently, Cecelia resides in Maryland wither her husband and son.

One of my fondest childhood memories involves sitting on the living room couch when I was six years old and reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss aloud. The rhyming sentences were entertaining, and the enjoyment of reading the story made me laugh, and I was proud that I could finish a whole book.

As an adult, I realize most of us no longer read stories out loud, but, by reading your stories vocally, you may see places where your novel may be inundated with too many descriptions or wordy phrases. Once your manuscript is ready to submit, it should have a rhythm that sounds pleasing when read out loud.

Am I saying that your work should rhyme like Dr. Seuss books? No, but it should be smooth, sounding enjoyable to your ear.

An editor once mentioned that my writing was too wordy in some spots and she suggested I read my manuscripts out loud before turning them in. She said that reading them this way would help me to spot the wordy, redundant places, allowing me to revise those spots so that they read smoothly.

For example, in one of my novels, the following phrase was flagged as being too wordy:

The streets were full of tourists, trekking around the busy sidewalk. “So, how did you happen to be living here in Ocean City if you were raised in Annapolis?” There was still so much about Karen he didn’t know, and his mind felt like an eager sponge, wanting to soak up all of the knowledge he could find about Karen Brown.

Here is the revised sentence: As Karen gave him directions, Keith noticed the streets were full of tourists, trekking around the busy sidewalk. Curious about Karen’s past, he asked, “So, how did you happen to be living here in Ocean City if you were raised in Annapolis?”

Doesn’t the second paragraph sound better and more concise? To me, the part about the eager sponge didn’t sound quite right. When an author reads his own work silently, they’re so close to the project that they might not see any awkward words or phrases. If you read your manuscript out loud, strange-sounding things may jump out at you, making you pause while reading. If you find yourself stopping because something doesn’t sound right, then it’s a sure sign you need to change the sentence so that it flows better!

Another problem I’ve had with my writing is using the same words and phrases over and over again. Reading aloud helps solve this problem. You can then stop, delete some of your words, and/or restructure your sentence.

So, before you turn in your next project, get a big cup of water, sit in a comfy chair, and start reading your book out loud. This exercise will make your book a more pleasant read, and the acquiring editor will appreciate your efforts!

Karen Brown is angry at God, and at herself, for falling in love with Lionel Adams, her ex-fiancé. When her beloved suddenly disappears, along with thousands of dollars stolen from their mega-church, she re-locates back to her hometown in Annapolis Maryland to live with her mother. She’s stunned to discover handsome plumber Keith Baxter living next door.
Keith is smitten with Karen, but wonders if she’s still in love with Lionel. He wants Karen to accept him into her life, but he doesn’t know if he’d be a good match for her due to his troubled past. Can Karen forgive Lionel, and let the Lord back into her heart?