The other day I finally got to workshop a chapter of my novel in my creative writing class. I was a bit nervous (as I always am when getting other people to read my writing), but this was a little different.
This was a genuine first draft, and it wasn’t the type of writing the class was seeing. The style was chatty, colloquial, and very light on description. There was a lot of telling, not a whole lot of showing. It was my attempt at something new in order to try and establish the voice, the most important part and what I’ve been struggling with.
If I learned one thing that night, it’s that reading your writings out loud really helps. As I said, this was a first draft, but I did have a read over it to correct typos and spelling/grammatical errors. But I read it over in my head, and to me, it all sounded fine. I thought it was good enough.
When I read it out loud in class, however, it was a different story. The story itself was not problematic but there was something about the rhythm to the narrative and the voice that were just a little…off. There were moments when it sagged, when it didn’t sound right. It was a flaw my lecturer picked up and said it was particularly important in comedic pieces (which this was) to have the right beats. I hit some and missed some in this draft.
There were various other tips and recommendations from my classmates (including, of course, trying to ‘dramatise’ the ‘telling’ a bit more), but this was one thing that stood out the most. Reading my writings out loud helped me to capitalise on the problem immediately.
From now on, that’s what I’m going to do with every draft and redraft. Read it out loud and see how it sounds!