Writing requires judicious revision, a truism that used to alarm the novel novelist that was me. No more. I’m more assured in my skills.
Writing can effortful, not glib, for some, though seldom for me. It requires accountability: to be purposeful and precise, with an arc that reaches beyond a mere spark, a notion, a thought. One must have goals: to be clear, concise, and complete.
Be clear, concise, and complete.
That’s a phrase from my work as a speech-language pathologist, one I coined to help people understand the nature of duty to communicate. One can not expect to “fling it out there” and lay the burden upon listeners to decipher. One has to care to communicate.
The brain is a powerful computer with language capacities beyond human comprehension, even in this AI-infused era. To craft a sentence, selecting the words, pronouncing them properly, and aligning them in grammar-manner (another coined phrase).
Simultaneously sustaining eye contact and connecting the gestures just so. One’s facial and body movements convey meaning that must coordinate with the words, the vocal emphasis, the pauses, the grunts, the inflections, the nuances, the gist. All coded by the brain, our personal computer since birth.
Speaking is work, but deftly done by our super computer, seemingly without effort. Thank God.
Oral communication affords give-and-take. The goals to be clear, concise, and complete demand it. Listeners can ask questions to clarify, to bely or berate. But readers can not abet writers in this manner. How to translate full intent with the content to a page?
Reading one’s work aloud assists. Especially when one is well-endowed with robust and diverse vocabulary and is prone to digress… If I trip over my tongue as I read my work, I can surmise that a reader would, too. Gulp.
Reading aloud also splays open non-plausible plots and unintended info gaps. It’s a second chance to notice and demark, to assure every story element is tight and well-aligned. Flipping back-and-forth amongst the pages disrupts pace – and a reader can flee, to the next book. Yikes, this burdens me like a plague.
Because the brain can process information so much faster than the mouth can articulate or fingers can type, words can be left out. Spellcheck can be tricked. Grammar check works well, but reading out loud is one of the most powerful proofreading techniques…and it’s free. Awkward is awkward and the ears have it over the eyes, which obey the writer in your head.
There are numerous text-to-speech apps and web-based services that will help an electronic device read your story aloud. But be advised –
an automated reader won’t repair errors or fill in the story holes! That’s not in its purview. You may control where it starts/stops, speed it up/slow it down, and have it re-read the same paragraph as many times as you want. I use the app on my Mac and prefer the voice Alex…to be clear 🙂
Further benefit, my Boomer compadres, its multi-sensory process enlivens your aging brain!
An organ that we long to maintain: clear, concise, and complete.