The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 36

I belong to a terrific writer’s group called “WRITER’S BLOC”. We meet every other week and it is both fun and inspirational.

For the first few minutes, we catch up on what we’re doing in our writing careers, then each member has an allotted time to read their work out loud to the group. Members are able to send their chapters, short stories, or whatever early so members can preview it before we meet.

Some of us write fantasy, others write mysteries, romances, historical fiction, whatever. I love to hear and read the rough drafts of my writer friends’ projects no matter what the genre.

Reading out loud is crucial. You hear flaws and inconsistencies; you hear the use of too many similar words. Reading out loud makes errors much more apparent.

Sometimes reading out loud amplifies that excellence of the words. Descriptions resonate. Today one of our members read a chapter that takes place in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve been out west several times and I could see and feel and smell the area. She did a great job and reading it out loud made it even more apparent.

Dialogue that is stilted or contrived becomes apparent when reading out loud. Would someone really say that? Would they use those long words, those endless adjectives? People use short answers or phrases.

Next time you’re writing dialogue, read it out loud. Take the man’s and the woman’s parts and pretend you’re on the stage or bus or walking in a garden or in bed. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. You want the reader to hear a real conversation or expletive or confession. Reading out loud will help you achieve that.

Also, you want to show the readers a scene, not tell them about it. Let’s say that it is a dark and stormy night. (pardon the cliché). You could describe the night like this:

The storm clouds gathered over the tiny building and the sky darkened. Soon rain started pouring down on the roof. Where was Matthew?

Or you could write:

Tracy was scared. The night got darker and darker and soon she heard rumbles overhead. The wind kicked up and rain pelted the window next to her with such force she thought the glass would break. A simultaneous blast of lightning and thunder shook the tiny house. Where was Matthew?

Which is more compelling? You need the reader to hear and feel and smell and see and use all his senses as he reads your story.

My advice? Join a writer’s group. If there is none nearby, create one. You don’t have to be professional published writers. Everyone has a story to tell and often the beginning writers have the best insights.

Meet regularly and critique each other’s work. Do it with honesty and love and you’ll achieve great things. If it wasn’t for the Writer’s Bloc and their comments and encouragement, I would not be a published author today.

Thanks, guys.

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