I'm putting the final polish on my current manuscript, and the last thing I do is read the entire book out loud. This takes a lot of time, like fifteen times as long as a regular read-through! But it's worth it.
Reading the book out loud reveals repetitious phrases and words. More importantly, it shows areas that are sing-song-y. You know, the times when sentence structure repeats or when words sound similar. I'm always amazed at how many small tweaks I make during the final pass.
Why? Our eyes don't always catch when we've overdone the sound of words.
She rode in the center of the overloaded boat and watched her brother row.
The words rode, overloaded, boat, and row all feature long "o" sounds, and it would be a good idea to substitute words with different sounds for one or two words.
She sat in the center of the tightly packed boat and watched her brother row.
Another sing-song mistake? I find simple sentences too near each other.
Julie grabbed her purse. "I've got to run."
"Me too." Jake opened the door.
And Dick and Spot ran to Jane...
I'm cringing. Yes, this is just an example--not something I actually found in my manuscript--but I've found some dreadful stuff! Sometimes we need to spice up our sentence structure to keep the reader interested rather than yawning.
Do you read your work out loud? Do you ever find sing-song writing in your manuscripts? What's your secret to the final polish?
Have a lovely weekend!