Monday, 31 January 2011

Aloud & Dangerous

I never read work aloud, despite the billions of writers who insist that reading work aloud is the true path to greatness. Frankly, I don’t buy it. When I read books I read them in my mind’s “reading” voice, which can pronounce and deliver each word and sentence clearly. I don’t profess to know more than these billions of writers, I only know what I am comfortable doing. And I haven’t felt my fiction worsen for not reading aloud.

When I read aloud, mayhem ensues. I hate the sound of my own voice, and don’t write to impose my speaking voice onto what I write. If that leaves my work inauthentic or impenetrable, then we’ll have to work around that. For me, reading aloud alters the whole tone of a piece, going from perfectly delivered to a shambolic burp of hesitations.

How a story is narrated in the mind and how a story is narrated aloud are often two different worlds. I write partly to achieve the clarity and order I can’t find in speaking aloud. From brain to page to mouth is the best process for me. (Ideally skipping the mouth part).

It was interesting then, to hear someone read my story Fingers in Our Ears aloud, and find that the reader had captured in the in-mind voice I had for the story quite well. I was pleased with this, as I often worry that my refusal to read aloud is like eating from a bowl of kryptonite. The story is up at
Liquid Imagination as an audio and text. If only I could get a narrator more often.


  1. Brilliant. I'm so happy for this story. So well read. Wow.

  2. Congrats! I've read out loud ONCE, but I have to say I am a convert. The REASON isn't that the story ought to be out loud, and I think I hear it pretty well in my head, but with a novel, I think it gets hard to SEE it anymore. Reading out loud gives me a reality check as to what is really on the page. it's just easier to spot mistakes.