Can audio books help you create music for your readers' ears?
It's clear that audiobooks are a powerful force that writers would be remiss to overlook, but there may be a hidden benefit to including audiobooks in your overall publishing strategy, a benefit that will ultimately improve your writing craft at every stage. Can audio help you make music for your readers ears?
Writing for the page is an art, sure, but what about writing for the ear?
Reading your work out loud has long been touted as a way to catch typos, missing or extra words, or simply notice the passages that may drag on a bit too long. It can be easy to feel like you're catching every mistake when you read silently to yourself, red pen in hand, but writing experts suggest that there's plenty that the ear will catch that the eye simply won't.
As scholar Peter Elbow puts it in a piece reprinted on the National Novel Writing Month blog, "our mouths follow complex rules of grammar that our minds cannot tell us about." Elbow goes on to recommend reading your work out loud until the sentences not only look right, but sound right, too.
By engaging in this multi-sensory revision process, you can tighten your sentences and paragraphs, and make your ideas clearer to the reader on the page, as well as in their headphones. Reading your work out loud will also get a real feel for the rhythm of your own writing. This can help enormously if you read your work in public at a reading or book signing, or, if like author Yvonne S. Thornton, you decide to narrate your audiobook yourself.
Writing for the ear is definitely a different process than writing for the page alone. It can help you pare down flowery language, and break up confusing sentences. Imaging your work as an audibook from the very beginning can also force you to picture your reader, or, in this case, your listener. Instead of focusing solely on how beautiful your turns of phrase are, you'll have to consider whether you're actually communicating your true meaning to your audience.
Making read alouds and careful listening a part of your regular writing and revising routine can lead to a greater clarity of language, deeper audience engagement, and more compelling public readings. So, what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath, clear that throat, and get ready to hear your wonderful work!
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!