One very helpful bit of advice that I use, and that I’ve passed along to other authors, is to read every single word of a manuscript out loud. The idea may seem tedious, but you will find so many things that you ordinarily wouldn’t see by merely reading the printed page: word repetitions, dialogue that doesn’t ring true, bloated sentences, and the sheer rhythms of language that can take your prose from pedestrian to sublime. You may want to read your work aloud to yourself, or else find a willing listener who can focus on your writing without interrupting. If you do ask a friend to listen to you read, request that they save their comments until you’ve finished reading, so you don’t get distracted by their suggestions. In addition, I always read my work with a pen in hand, ready to circle those offending repetitions and inadequate adjectives as they crop up.
Give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at how differently your book comes across when it’s spoken aloud, as opposed to simply read to yourself.
I hope these tips are helpful! Have a question about writing? Comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a novel about book publishing and rock and roll, set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at http://www.lesliewellsbooks.com
CC Commons photo: St. Catherine reading a book