Listening to Your Manuscript Will Help With Revision

Jun 16, 2017 | Novels, Picture Books

We teach a variety of revision techniques at our Revision Retreat workshop–this is one of our favorites.

One of the challenges all writers face is seeing a manuscript clearly when tinkering or polishing, instead of seeing what you believe is there but may not be. Reading a manuscript over and over often does not help, so we recommend getting a new perspective by listening.

If you can, ask a friend who has never seen your manuscript before–you don’t want them to be familiar with it–to read it to you. Sit with your own copy and listen, and make notes wherever they stumble, or hesitate, or simply don’t read it the way you expect. You’ll also notice typos and awkward phrasing just by being forced to experience it at listening rather than reading pace.

This is a particularly useful technique with picture books and poetry, but you can use it with longer works as well, if you are having trouble with a chapter or a scene. Use it with an early draft, to get some distance from what you have written, or when you are polishing, to catch problems you no longer notice when reading.

Don’t have a friend available? That’s OK. Use your computer’s “text to speech” feature and have it read the manuscript to you. Or record yourself reading the text, and then play it back.

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