Thursday, August 13, 2009

stops and starts and flows

This comes down on Sunday, but it's an interview I did on BBC Radio on August 7. I like it because they asked me to read the blog post in full.

When I write, that's how I edit. If it sounds good out loud,
if it feels good on my tongue, than it passes muster.

I'm a fan of the rhythm of words, of how punctuation and the use of paragraphs (is there a word for that?) creates a cadence of stops and starts and flows.

Do you read your stuff out loud too? With the door closed or with an audience in the room?

I have the door closed.

Fast forward to 1:16:00 if you want to listen.

Update: The BBC piece is no longer available online. But they sent me an mp3 file and I've posted it to Vimeo.
Is it just me or is it really slow?

17 comments:

Paula said...

I don't read my stuff out loud unless I'm working on a speech, but I do hear it in my head the way I'd say it out loud if I were speaking.

Not The Rockefellers said...

I do read my stuff out loud. And I'll bounce it off of anyone who'll listen, but I can't handle them reading over my shoulder. Oddly, sometimes I take on a southern drawl, especially if it is my poetry.

Peace - Rene

Zip n Tizzy said...

I don't tend to read my posts out loud, but when I do, I'm always a little surprised to hear my voice. It's funny how we can talk all day but then talking to ourselves makes us shy.

Mark G. said...

Great piece. The Beeb are always a good bet. Thanks, again, for sharing.

Marnie said...

Sometimes I read them aloud but most often not.

I do agree with you though that the flow of words, puncuation and paragraphs all lend themselves to a certain cadence.

When going over scripts I always tend to read them aloud (even prior to running the lines) and it's incredible sometimes how the puncuation and spacing can either make or break a line. (This of course leads to making small changes in said lines during auditions.)

I have been told two things about making changes to others words (script wise). Make it your own, and conversely "don't change a thing, how dare you think your better than the writers"...I don't know which is reality but we muddle along anyway. I'm sure at some point we'll figure it all out.

BTW. Loved your piece on John Hughes. I recognize that must have been hard to put yourself (and John) out there like that. You have validated however that there is in fact a personal side to everyone (even Hollywood Icons). Cherish those special memories.

dan said...

Yes, reading writtten words out loud is good way to check for rhythm, cadence, poetry, etc. GOOD IDEA!

dan said...

wow, Alison , i just listened to the whole BBC interview and it was great! It's interesting how when hearing your VOICE in addition to having read the blog 25 times, it really comes across nice in voice, too. Even better. The blog text is perfect, of course, but hearing your voice on BBC radio, that made the text come alive. Really.

foobella said...

I have never read anything out loud. I "think" it out loud as I'm reading it, though. Does that make sense?

I remember one time, yearssss ago in college, my prof started reading a student's paper to us. He was a very animated man who could really bring things to life. All of a sudden I realized it was MY paper he was reading. It sounded so different than it did in my head! It sounded even better!

Maybe I should start reading my stuff out loud. =)

Jeff said...

I always read dialogue out loud, and I do it most of the time when I'm writing narrative.

the bowel movement said...

when there's a rhythm to written words like poems i think it's referred to as a meter. and then as a whole, it's a prosody (to do with rhythm and meter) - but i think that mostly refers to poems. that's as much as i know, and i know that when i'm looking for a word to describe something, i'll settle for the closest description instead haha!

molly said...

yes. i write the same way i talk. or, at least i try. it's very, very important for it to come across like i'm speaking outloud. i love the challenge, actually.

and, your letter writing post has inspired me to reveal my own letter writing past and the people that i've communicated with.

Anonymous said...

Well that sucks, the BBC link no longer works. Sorry about the critical comments and the crushing attention you've been getting. I was touched reading the Sincerely, John Hughes post.

~axe said...

I read stuff to myself(mouth moving but very little sound) and that's usually how i make my corrections. Helps with what little grammer and spelling i do know. lol

Rebecca said...

Are you musical? You describe your writing in musical terms. I think a musicology/musicianship dictionary would be ab enjoyable read for you.

I can only write like I speak. Only especially I think it pays to be yourself and use your own voice.

That one kid's dad said...

I very much enjoyed reading your John Hughes memories. It prompted me to learn more about the man who made the movies that meant so much to me as a kid. Learning about the man makes his films even more poignant.

I was most pleased to learn that writing preceded his directing and production efforts. Good stories with good characters are the heart of any good film.

As far as reading aloud when writing, I haven't tried it. Sounds like a good idea. John Gardner's book, "The Art of Fiction" has great insights that I would recommend--I think he talks about cadence somewhere in there.

The flow of written word is very important in creating the picture you have in your head, that image and feel one is trying to convey.

Once again, so glad to have discovered your blog, too bad it was John Hughes' death that led to it. I've added it to my reading list. I'm always happy to read good writing, as it helps me greatly in my own little scribblings.

Keep it up!

luvlyloops said...

Thanks again Alison for sharing this with the world & the those of us who were are part of that generation. Thanks. I can't stop crying after reading the write on wikepedia page of the circumstances of his death. I'm glad you got to know him personally. Best wishes.

AJ in Nashville said...

Not always, but I too will often read my posts aloud to myself to check for continuity, and surprisingly, to catch word omissions and/or grammatical errors. It's amazing how much your mind will 'fill in' what's not there when you're reading silently, but which sticks out when speaking the words aloud.

And everyone at my house already knows I'm a little off, so hearing me 'talk to myself' is no big thang. :)