September 21, 2003

The Sound of One Hand Typing

I had the opportunity a few weeks back to read something to a small group of writers that I planned later in the week to read to a larger group of listeners at the little Floyd Writer's Group's first "Spoken Word" night at a local eatery. New to the group, they are still trying to get to know who I am, and what and how I write. Having read the practice piece, one of the group commented that the words had such a nice rhythm in spoken form, did I write the piece to be read?

"Effective writing has the illusion of speech without its bad habits" .I don't know that I've ever written something with reading it aloud as the end purpose. But I can say that if I am really concerned about the feel of the sounds the words make, their order in making my point or desired sensory effect or just plain making sense, I print the piece and read it aloud... mostly last year to Buster; lately to myself as Tsuga has not developed the critic's ear just yet (only the critics's teeth). Chip Scanlon makes just this point in a quote from Don Murray: that it is "the ear, not the eye, that is the final editor". Elsewhere I've seen it suggested that a further refinement in this process is to ask someone else to read it back to you because you will hear things in it... flaws of logic, timing, word combinations... that you will miss if you are both reader and author.

I guess this article grabbed me because I so agree with this relationship between the written and the spoken word. I'll have an opportunity to convert page lines to air waves again this week, recording another little essay for the radio. It may be weeks before it airs. I'll let ya know.

Posted by fred1st at September 21, 2003 05:39 AM | TrackBack

You've got this one right! After a couple rounds of editing, the eye fills in the blanks. A new reader cannot do that and the holes become obvious.

Posted by: punctilious at September 21, 2003 07:54 AM

I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but a few years ago when I wrote a monthly newsletter for a large organization in my town and another one for where I worked, I would always read them out loud before they went to print. And then, if time permitted, (I am the one of the world's worst procrastinator's so extra time was a rarity), I would read them to someone else just be sure they sounded the way I wanted it to.

Posted by: Cyn at September 21, 2003 09:39 PM

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