Saturday, May 16, 2009

BEST Writing Advice I Ever Received

No matter what you write or in what genre, occasionally read your work into a tape recorder and then listen to it closely when you play it back. This lesson was delivered to me by Robert Kelly, who was my poetry professor at Bard College and I've used it ever since.

Hearing your own voice will give you a perspective on your own work that cannot be gained any other way. If, when listening, something doesn't make sense or sound right, neither will it make sense on the page when read silently by a reader. Similarly, if you find your attention drifting when listen to yourself, the reader's attention will also drift.

Discovering where this happens, and why, will help you edit and revise. Awkward and inappropriate phrases will stick out when read back aloud - cut them. Phrases or sentences or observations you have fallen in love with but are not organic to the work will also stick out. Whenever you stumble over a word or phrase when reading aloud, there is probably a better word or phrase to use. Over time you'll develop your own inner ear which will allow you to hear your own work without using the tape recorder. All writing is language, and language is sound, and by listening you will learn to use the sound and rhythm of the language to your advantage - that is called style and is the way you find your own "voice" as a writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment