Advice: drafting and reading aloud

Next installment taken from email Q&As :-)

Now we all know that picture books will be read out loud to kids. So this means that it is absolutely vital for writers to read their work out loud as they draft it so we know how it sounds. However, even that is not fool-proof. Read on:

We all develop tricks for reading our work out loud as writers. We slur the right words, say bits quickly or slowly, mispronounce things that need to rhyme… Which is great when we’re doing a book-reading to an audience but tells us nothing about how we’ve actually written it.

You absolutely have to get someone, hopefully a few someones, to read your work to you out loud, uncoached and uninterrupted. It is only then that you’ll know if all the things you thought were in there, actually are. If they aren’t, take notes. You can fix it.

Fast bits can use fast words. Try short sharp words like slip, trip, skitter, hop, pop… with few syllables or long round vowels. Look for fun quick patterns like “quick as a wink”. I love the difference between slide and slip – is the action long or quick?

For slow bits, sentences can be longer, more tricky to say, with longer vowels and words that force the reader to change their pace. All around the soft slow snow drifted…

Bad rhymes can always be fixed with a rewrite. Never ever leave a bad rhyme, thinking no one will notice or care.

Don’t write a sentence around a word that rhymes!

Look for the sentence that captures what you need then rewrite that until it works. Be prepared for it to take a long time to get it right. Rhyme should never be a distraction – it should make something a joy to read.

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