Friday, 13 April 2018

#FridayFacts - The importance of reading out loud

This Friday, Pict Publishing author Thérésa Hedges talks about how she develops character dialogue... by reading out loud.

By Thérésa Hedges

I don’t rightly know if being an actress helps with the writing. I’d like to think it does. It certainly gives me an insight into how to differentiate between characters.

I’ve played so many different people… fairies, serial killers, damaged teenagers, goddesses and iconic psychics. And a lot of men.

Having the experience of taking a holiday from yourself is great to build awareness of why A talks, moves, reacts differently from B or C. You quickly build up a repertoire of such stuff in your head.

It also helps with redrafting, editing, whatever you call the process. I’m not really au fait with a lot of the technical jargon. I probably should be. Like I should probably be ashamed that I’m not. Pfft. Don’t really care. I know what the things are, even if I can’t hang a label on them.

Anyway, I mean that thing where you go through and make sure everyone has their own timeline, their own voice. That you can easily distinguish between the century-old hero and the vibrant, sassy teenager when they talk, without having to mention their name in every single line of dialogue.

That what everything they say makes sense and sounds right for them, and not just some version of spoutage from your own mouth.

You know – that bit.

I always read everything out aloud. I often change the font too, just to keep my eyes guessing so I don’t fall into the trap of reading what I think is there (I’m by nature a speed reader – blame the academic background and turbine brain).

So, yes… Reading aloud. I would recommend it for both proofreading and editing (or whatever the fancy words are for ‘getting it right’ and ‘making it make sense’).

It’s amazing how quickly you can pick up on little things like:

He/she would never say that!

Wow, that was gibberish…

What the..?
Oh, that’s not what he/she said before about xyz.

Hmm… that sounds more like something A would say

Yikes, can A breathe through his/her ears? 
'Cause that’s the only way he/she would be able to get all that out!

What the heck is that comma doing there? 
Bad comma! Naughty comma!

Luckily I have very understanding neighbours. Or my flat is better sound-proofed that I give it credit for. Daily, a barrage of accents, voices and emotions comes tumbling out when I’m reading aloud.

This is one reason I need to be on my own when I write.
It’s just, you know… safer. Heh heh.

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