Why It’s Good to Read a Book Aloud

Posted on December 31, 2007

Most readers aren’t aware of everything that goes into a manuscript after it’s written but before it can be prepared for publication. But you aren’t most readers because you’re here and I’m going to share with you all the fun (sort of) ups and downs.

So, I finished writing the manuscript (shorthand: ms) last Wednesday. But before I can print out half a dozen copies and give them to my beta readers (more on that in a moment), it needs a read-through.

Out loud.

What may look good on paper and even sound fine when you’re reading silently can be downright nasty when spoken aloud. That’s not good. Downright nasty doesn’t belong in a published book. I did this with Destined and it was amazing how many things I caught:

  • How many times do characters begin their dialog with “Well,”?
  • Do two or more characters use the same idiosyncratic speech pattern?
  • Is the point-of-view (POV) consistent, or is there “head jumping”?
  • Just how many times do you just use the word “just”?

Oh, there is so much to find, so much to correct. And it doesn’t work quite as well when you’re reading it aloud to yourself. Because, after all, you wrote it.

So we look for an audient. (I figure if many people in attendance is an audience, then a single person listening is an audient.) In my case, Husby is quite convenient.

Consequently, over the last few days (excepting Shabbat, of course), I’ve been reading the ms to him out loud. Lemme tell ya, my voice is starting to fade, and we’re only to chapter 13. But it is already making a difference in what I’m able to catch both in basic errors and in structure and word choice.

Since Tuesday is a holiday (we did our New Year thing back in September; this one we celebrate pretty much simply by buying a new calendar), on Wednesday, the plan is to print and bind about half a dozen copies of the ms and give them, with a complimentary red pen, to my beta readers.

What are beta readers? They’re people I’ve specifically requested read the ms and mark it up. I trust them to tell me the honest truth. If there’s something that needs fixing, I want to know about it so I can fix it! Anything they love, hate, don’t understand, anything that needs clarification, isn’t accurate, or is a must-keep – they mark it and I use it to do Edit #2.

A few people who were beta readers for Destined have volunteered to read this one. And my favorite, to be honest, was a reader who wrote not only comments to me for purposes of the next edit, but also comments to the characters! I’m looking forward to her comments on this ms.

So that’s the latest update. Husby gets to hear a bunch more chapters read aloud to him and then I’ll move on to the beta readers. And all this before it gets to my editor, who will I hope, edit it within an inch of its life so that it can be the best book possible.


  1. Jack Steiner

    Hi Sheyna,

    Bad joke that didn’t translate well at all. Makes me feel like a complete audient. 😉

  2. Sheyna

    Jack – Okay, I’ve turned this over every way possible and I’m stumped. Can you explain a bit more? Sorry I’m being dense.


    Happy 2008 to you as well!

  3. Jack Steiner

    an audient

    Those are fighting words where I come from. 😉 Happy New Year.

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