Monday Motivation: A short disquisition on writing by ear
You’re at your desk, right? Or your dining room table, or your kitchen table, or, in desperation, perched on a stool at the marble credenza in your bathroom, trying to write; plagued by doubts; unsure of your voice – in short, doing what all writers do for a considerable fraction of their writing lives: worrying.
Take a deep breath, make sure the door to the outside world is closed, return to your laptop or your Moleskine, and read the last page you’ve written.
Aloud.* At normal reading speed, with the built-in pauses you might have indicated, and making due allowance for the varying pace of description, dialogue, internal monologue. Listen to the cadences of your lines of description. Listen to the rhythms you’ve created.
And listen, too, for the discordances. The too-abrupt transitions. The indistinguishable speech patterns of the various characters you’ve called on to speak. The banality of that too-long description.
Your ear, in short, is a better judge of writing than your eye. So give your ear a chance to hear what it is you’ve done, and suggest what you might do to tighten and improve your text.
* If you, like me, spend some of your writing time in coffee shops, then you’ll have to risk those at the next table casting doubtful looks at you as you mutter your way through that page. Don’t mind them, though: chances are, as non-writers, they wouldn’t understand even if you explained what you were up to.
Read Jo-Anne’s latest blog: ‘Don’t be predictable – but don’t come out of left field either‘