I can read without moving my lips,

. . . but sometimes I do anyway.

Reading my writing aloud is a proofreading technique I commonly use. I don’t suppose I’m the only one who has thought of this, but I’m glad I did. For me it is quite effective.

I have a tendency to write almost the right word when I’m dashing out the text. I find a lot of “and and” instances in my work. Often what I meant to write in a case like that is “and I” or “and as” or such. By reading the literal words aloud, I generally catch these mistakes. I’ll often leave out small, common words like articles and even conjunctions. Generally this happens when I’m typing fast. Hearing the words, even spoken in a whisper, nearly always leads me to find the omissions.

I’ll also read aloud sentences that are particularly dense or compound/complex to see how well they work. I don’t know what it is about reading aloud, but I can better understand my meaning that way, and I can better judge how well it is coming across.

Less often I’ll mix up “there, they’re, or their” but I know the proper uses of each, and they’ve become red flag words that make me stop whenever I use them to ensure I’ve done so correctly. Reading aloud doesn’t usually help me catch misused homonyms but there is a deliberate quality about the practice that probably helps with this error too.

I think at one point or another in the creation of a final draft I will have read aloud every word on the screen. Certainly this is true with the short stories I write. I know some writers will start at the beginning of their novel and read it aloud all the way through. I can understand the value of this even if I don’t always practice it myself.

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One Comment on “I can read without moving my lips,”

  1. Stephanie Z Says:

    This is one of those great pieces of advice that just never works for me. I think the problem is that I’ve done too much “performance” reading, where you spend as much time on how to say the words as you do on what the words are. So when I read aloud, I actually take the text in bigger chunks and interpolate what should be there into what is.

    Luckily I don’t do the same thing when I do line edits, or I’d be in big trouble. 🙂

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