A Dose of Humility

It’s amazing how sentences seem perfectly fine until you hear them out loud. Then, you realize that a couple of sentences that look good on a page sound weird when spoken aloud. It makes me think it might be best for me to start listening to my books aloud before I complete my final draft, just to eliminate issues like I’ve heard in Ancient Ruins.

On that subject, I’ve completed listening to Chapter 30 of Ancient Ruins. The audiobook is just barely shy of 13 hours in length, and managing to keep my concentration on it and reading along from the book is difficult at times, so I can’t go through it as fast as I want to.

Still, the errors burst the slight inflation of my ego that I hadn’t noticed. I may do reasonably well, but I’ve still got a lot to learn, and there’s always room for improvement.

10 thoughts on “A Dose of Humility

  1. Reading a paper out loud was one of the first tips my professor gave me in college. It really helped me a lot, to the point where I get odd looks for mumbling while writing. This is probably something a lot of writers could use to make things sound less, well, awkward?

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    1. It could. The problem you run into is that not all writers are good speakers. And as I said, Ancient Ruins is 13 hours long. That’s a lot of speaking. Oh, I’m going to do it in the future… but it certainly was a surprise. I’m going to do better.

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      1. Don’t need to speak it outloud yourself, a text to speech program might have trouble with some words but will still demonstrate the flow much better than just reading. Also helps because even with speaking to yourself, you wouldn’t necessarily hear what the line sounds like accurately. People’s voices do funny things in their heads.

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      2. Totally understand. My thing is that I’ve got a weird issue with certain tones that are common to machine-generated voices. It tends to give me headaches. Mind, I haven’t tried them in several years, so I’m about due to give them another go. Hopefully it goes well. *crosses fingers*

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  2. That’s how I tend to write emails/reviews/whatever when I really care about them. Reading the writing aloud let’s me notice the how the words flow (or, in my case, how they fill to flow).

    This is my favorite related quote of the moment by Gary Provost:

    This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

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    1. Sounds about right. The problem is when I have a particular word on the brain, and it gets used more than it should over the course of a paragraph. Or when I inadvertently rhyme the end of a series of sentences, so that it sounds odd. Mind, this is mostly a problem with Ancient Ruins, because I specifically went out of my way to try and break this sort of thing up in Spells of Old, but it’s a problem I’m going to have to deal with. Knowing is half the battle.

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  3. Repetition is a killer. My all-time favorite example for everything, David Weber, uses the word quietly ~48 times in Fields of Dishonor, and softly 35 times (he uses both primarily to have characters talk “emotionally”). And he does it through all the Honor books, and most of the time in crucial moments. There’s other things he’s somewhat repetitive with, but those two nearly drove me insane (once noticed it’s impossible to un-notice).

    And yes, it can be a bit notable with your writing also 😉 In the (presumably unedited) prologue you used variations of choose, leave and stay ten times or so in as many paragraphs. Some variation is often better, but then it shouldn’t read like a dictionary competition either …

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    1. Once seen, it cannot be unseen. I’m not entirely certain how bad Spells of Old is, but at this point it’s a little late for changes. (I’m now thinking a revised and expanded edition of the books is inevitable at some point.) I don’t want the text to not match the Audiobook, so… yeah. It’s going to make things interesting.

      Humility is good, though. I’ve been trying desperately not to get full of myself, which isn’t too hard. This just… points it out firmly to me.

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  4. The problem is when you overdo the other end in a bid to avoid repetition of words. You end up looking like you trawled through a thesaurus just to avoid using commonplace words, and it gets totally ridiculous. It is a difficult balance to strike (though I’m not really prone to noticing it, to be honest. Unless it’s really egregious).

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    1. Oh, totally agreed. It isn’t constant by any stretch of the imagination, but listening through Ancient Ruins, I’ve noticed a number of mistakes in my writing. They’re there, and I can’t claim otherwise. Phrasing could also use some work, as well as grammar in some places. One of those things that I need to work on. Oh, well.

      Back to listening. On Chapter 37 now.

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