Advice, Dialogue, Editing, Fiction, Novel, Read, Revision, Tips, Writing

Lo and behold, my novel speaks!

In addition to all the editing I did daily while writing my novel, I have twice printed it out and gone through complete edits. With my third printing, I began audio recording. My purpose is to get a little distance and, in some respect, experience a “fresh” reading. But this experiment has resulted in a few surprises.

See how seriously I take this?

First of all, reading a novel aloud is not something I normally do. I’m certainly not Meryl Streep, all dialogue is read in the same voice, so it doesn’t “sound” like what I heard in my head as I wrote it. And it’s a strange experience to speak words I don’t use in life—profanity. Not that my book is filled with it, but I feel ridiculous when I have to say those words. Also, it’s hard to keep from smiling after I read some of Jalal’s lines … he’s a charmer. And I wonder if I’ll choke-up when I come to a couple scenes that made me cry when I wrote them.

Secondly, I’m only three chapters in, but I’m surprised at the number of edits I’ve made already. I thought I’d caught almost all of the little problems in my previous rounds of editing, parts of which were read aloud. I’ve written about “beats” before, the main thing I’m listening for, which has enabled me to hear and correct awkward syntax, but I’ve found something else.

A problem particular to one of my characters is the use of contractions. English is not Jalal’s first language, and though he has little remaining accent, he speaks more formally than a native. He doesn’t use contractions. I’ve been conscious of this from the start and caught most of my slips as I wrote, but by reading the manuscript aloud—or hearing the playback—I’ve caught several more slips.

And imagine my surprise when I read that Meredith’s future husband had been a PhD candidate in the “archeology” department, when he received his degree in anthropology. So, it looks like I’ll do more work than I hoped this time around, but rewriting is the what it’s all about. I’m polishing like mad.

Now, hand me that microphone.

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24 thoughts on “Lo and behold, my novel speaks!”

  1. I love the picture you included, and you already know how I can’t wait to try out this idea!

    Every time I read Jalal’s name now, this beachy, charming, romantic feeling just washes over me and catches me off guard and I really want to read your book. Just thought you should know. 😉


    1. Ha ha, be careful what you say, Kayla. I just might be looking for a beta-read after this round of editing.

      Btw, I try not to think about Jalal too much when my husband is around. I’m afraid he’ll ask what I’m smiling about. 😉


  2. I had someone call me once on the phone and tell me they wanted to read me something. Pretty good, eh? she said at the end. Yeah, very. who is that? You, she answered.
    Amazing how different voice can affect the sound of the text. I didn’t recogonize my own work!
    Another time an anctress read my short on CBC radio, wow was that weird. Didn’t sound anything like I had imagined my narrator to sound.

    I would love that program that can read back to me. Drgaon or something?

    I think it’s fantastic what you are doing LInda!

    I hope to be able to read my whole novel out loud. I figure if I break it up maybe I’ll do it. I find it too tedious.


    1. That’s funny that you didn’t recognize your own work. Did the actress read it the way you wanted it read? I think that would be very odd to hear someone read my work … embarrassing probably.

      Once, I was sorting through a stack of papers and found a passage I really liked, but couldn’t remember writing down. Thinking it must be something I read on the internet, I googled it, but couldn’t find the author. A few days later I read part of my novel that I had written a good while before and there it was! I was the author.

      I can only read one or two chapters before my voice gives out, so I’m taking it slow.


      1. Oh, I had no say in it at all. I was phone called to ask for a tone from a producer, and a few other questions, that’s it. Then I sat in bewildrement in my sister’s backyard and listenend to it air while at my newphew’s b-day party.


    2. jenniferneri — the program you mean is called Dragon Naturally Speaking, but it actually does the opposite. You speak into a microphone and the program translates your words into text. My special needs son is learning to use it pretty effectively. There are a number of programs that do what you want, and I think the Mac comes with a built in “reader” application. I’m less familiar with these.


      1. The option to have text read is in Windows too. It’s part of Word, but I tried it once and it sounded robotic and not at all acceptable for having your novel read back to you.


  3. I don’t find errors so much as I find that what looks good on the page, and reads well silently, does not sound so good out loud.
    I do a weekly newscast, for which I the announcer regularly want to smack me the writer for his/mine affliction/affectation for alliteration!


    1. 🙂 Some alliterations are pleasant, though sibilants are a problem. I didn’t know you did a weekly broadcast. I could never do something like that. I tend to speak so fast, I trip over my own tongue.


  4. I always make some poor family member listen to me read my chapters aloud. I catch so much more that way. It’s amazing! Is that picture you? It definitely looks like it could be. Were you in radio ever?


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