Monday, April 11, 2011

The Art of Reading Aloud

My spouse and I really enjoy reading aloud to one another. It started with cheesy romance novels. The cheesier the better. It was a great way to spend the time when we had a long, late night drive home from a dinner party. And we could read them off our phones in the dark.

The vast majority of free, self-pubbed ebooks in the romance genre are horrendous, so that's where we shopped for them (if someone is charging for the books, they are generally of a higher caliber, though sometimes not by much). We'd giggle over every ridiculous run-on sentence, every heavy-handed metaphor, every stereotyped character.

And we'd do voices... badly. The English-born professor of Occult Studies would sometimes sound like he spent his teen years in Sydney. Or he'd suddenly have a cockney accent. The ranch owner of Mexican decent would roll her r's... when we'd remember to do it.

It was good for a laugh, and a nice way to pass time when we were both talked-out for the night. Sometimes we'd even read aloud to one another when we were grumpy or when one of us had their feathers ruffled by the other and suddenly the mood would lift and everything would be better.

But then we discovered something even better. Whenever one of us isn't feeling well, the other can read a children's book out loud and it is the most soothing thing in the world. Oh, we're probably regressing a bit, but we both believe we are 12 year-olds at heart anyway. We, as a society, read out loud to our children when they are tired or ill. Why don't we read to each other?

And the voices! This week my spouse has been ill, so I've been reading Jennifer Murdley's Toad out loud.  It is so much fun to act out the lines of the gravely-voiced, celebrity-imitating toad. But I have even more fun reading Jennifer's terrific, slightly-snarky voice. I relish every "oh, shut up!" in Bruce Coville's book.

Now I'm starting to look at the dialogue in my own manuscript a little differently. I can instantly spot the lines that will be fun to read out loud. And those that don't jump out I am re-thinking. Not that every line has to be a joy to read aloud, but if it's not, why isn't it? And should it be?

Jennifer Murdley's adventures will be over soon.  Any suggestions as to what to read aloud next?

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