Read your whole manuscript out loud

May 23, 2016 | Writing A Book

Why you should do an oral read-through

Do an oral read-through for the same reasons you do a silent read-through. Reading the manuscript all the way through will catch typos and factual errors. You’ll spot places where the meaning isn’t as clear as possible and others where you need to change the wording.

Do an oral read-through to catch things your silent reading missed. When you read aloud, your tongue will catch things that your eyes miss.

When you should do an oral read-through

I like the oral read-through as the last step before you send your manuscript to a professional editor. Ideally, you’ve read and revised the writing several times. On at least one of those times you should have read the complete manuscript straight through.

Who should read the manuscript

You can read the manuscript yourself or you can have someone else read the manuscript while you listen. If you read yourself you will be more likely to spot issues and make changes in the way you, personally, phrase things.

But when you read, you’re more likely to read what you expect to be on the page, not what is actually on the page. Another person won’t have that issue, but won’t be sensitive to your unique voice and phrasing.

There’s no right answer here. Each way has pluses and minuses. Pick one. Most of my clients choose to read their own work because there are less coordination issues.

How to get more from the oral read-through

Allow enough time.

We read aloud much more slowly than we read silently. In addition, you will be making corrections and changes as you go through the manuscript. I estimate that it will take you about ten minutes of reading/correcting time per thousand words. That means about eight reading hours for a 50,000-word manuscript.

Read from printed pages

You are more likely read effectively if you read from a printed manuscript. I’m sure there’s a neuroscience explanation for this, but I don’t know what it is. What I do know is that I and my clients catch more things when we read from a printed manuscript.

Read standing up.

You will have more energy if you read standing up. You’ll find that breathing is easier, too. You can even walk around while you read.

Work in spurts

Don’t try to do the entire manuscript in one session. You will start to tire and start missing things. I suggest that you limit your reading to half an hour at a time. Then take a break before you start again.

Bottom Line

Read your entire manuscript out loud as the final step before sending it off to a professional editor.