Friday, June 15, 2012

Eliminate Sing-Song Writing

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.

For example:

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!


  1. Those things are also consider okay because they are part of style (for example, the first one is a rhetorical device), but like you pointed out, that doesn't always work. They might add impact to the writing, or they might diminish it. It depends how, what, and when it is written.

    I read my stuff out loud throughout the writing process, and not just at the end. I even separate the dialogue from the rest of the text and read it out loud to made sure it sounds natural.

    1. So true, Stina. Sometimes we purposely put repetitive sounds in. For me, most of the time I didn't realize I'd overdone it!

      Love the idea of separating the dialogue. It also shows if our characters sound unique--great tip!!

  2. I read mine aloud, and sometimes while I'm writing it. Oh yeah, sometimes I think I've been playing the rhyming game! LOL

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Parts of it but you've inspired me to go after the whole big bad beast!
    ~ Wendy

  4. I read some parts out loud because the sentences seem long or aren't quite right. I definitely look for repetitive words or sentence structure, though, because I've had that pointed out about my writing a lot.

  5. That is so funny you would post this. I'm in a final read after the revision cave...and I'm reading out loud. I've always done this. It helps me hear the flow, and hear the mistakes. I find typos easier, where my eyes alone might just skip over them.

    Eric is pretty used to me reading out loud. Sometimes I work in the office with him. He can pick up something out of order by listening to me. It's a great tool, and it costs nothing but some well spent time.

  6. I don't always read aloud, but most of the time, I talk my dialogue out loud when I'm writing. I have tons of fun with that. I'm also a weirdo, because I loooove revising. The blank page freaks me out, but I love the act of taking what's there and making it prettier. :)

  7. I'm planning to read my ms aloud on my final read-through next week! Thanks for a good reminder of what to look for. :) Happy Friday!

  8. This is why I love the program Scrivener. It has a text to speech tool where it will read your book to you. I used to use my Kindle to listen to my WIP, but with Scrivener, it's easier for me because the document is open and I can make changes as I go.

  9. Yes, but I have to really 'make' myself do this because I'm too antsy to sit still and do it. I'll have to check out Scrivener

  10. That sounds like a lot of work, but I can see how the duplicate sounds would be caught that way. I was also wondering how far along you were in writing a book. Somehow, I missed it if you finished one lately. Good to know you are nearing the finish line.


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