Friday, August 21, 2009

My Best Ideas Are Always Stumbled Upon

Remember my Big Dream?  That book I'm trying to write?  Well, it's coming along, slow but sure.  I tend to think of it as a fetus or a tortoise--slow growing, slow moving, but steady nonetheless.  I hope to be done with it in early 2037.

Anyhoodle, I happened upon a great editing technique that I wanted to share with any other would-be writers out there (and don't hate or gloat if you already thought of this idea ten years ago, mmmkay?): have someone read your piece aloud to you.

While I've always read my own writing out loud when editing (honestly, it's the best way to recognize typos and awkward sentences), I'd never listened to my work being read by somebody else.  

Recently, I had Christian read my story out loud.  The narrator is a young boy, so I asked him to read it.  I wanted to see if it sounded authentic and sincere.  It was the strangest happening--hearing the words in a young boy's voice brought new life and character to the story for me.  Parts and places that I was wrestling with sounded completely different in his voice and I gained new insight as to what to tinker with and what to let be.

And then, last week when Erik and Becky were in town, they were asking about the book and I bashfully agreed to share it with them.  At first, I was going to read it to them, but a fleeting idea brought on by vulnerability/embarrassment caused me to hand it over to another reader.  Erik read it out loud to all of us as we drove to the beach.  Again, it was a strange and fascinating experience.  Now the story, read in a man's voice, sounded like a reflective memoir.  Again, I was drawn to new places to polish and other places that I was determined to alter to leave as is.  It really gave me a chance to see it with new eyes and gave me a surge of energy and ideas.

So, there you have it--a stumbled upon idea that really helped me.  I hope it helps you too!

16 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Great idea!

Kelly S. said...

I really struggle with letting people read what I have written. Especially if it's close to my heart or about a personal or painful experience. I used to let my mom read everything, but she would always say something like oh this is so sad, why are you feeling so sad? Are you depressed? So now I try to let more discerning parties read my work. I love to hear my words come out in anothers voice. I love how they put pause and inflection in different places. It's a great tool to help you refine your work.
Good luck! I can't wait to say that I knew you way back when you were picking up car pool in West Jordan!

Leslie said...

AWESOME!! I'm so happy it's coming along. I've marked my calendar, and I'll be expecting one of the first copies!

Becky said...

I'm telling you now, it is going to be a great book! Tiffany has such a talent when it comes to story telling and has a magnificent way with words. Tiff, I'm so honored that you trusted us enough to share it with us! I can't wait to read more! And I'll never forget trying to help you come up with his last name! :) I never realized how much goes into every little detail of a book.

Angie said...

That is very interesting! Very interesting. A different voice would give it a whole new life. Good job.

Suzie said...

Hon. This may be the best advice I've received since my friend told me to try tampons.

Can't wait to see what you have given birth to.
Cannot. Wait.

and about that anniversary. great job.
and I remember the sheetcake!

Christy said...

I secretly wish I had been in the car with you on the way to the beach.

Kami said...

A young boy? This is going to be interesting.

Jesse C said...

Good stuff. It is absolutely true with art and music as well. As soon as is shared with someone else, your perspective changes and your editing abilities sharpen. It's just hard to find someone you trust enough to share it with.

Erik said...

Thanks for the opportunity. It was one of the many highlites of the trip. Can't wait to read more.

MiaKatia said...

Well, if you need a totally high pitched female to try on that young boy character of yours, give me a call. I am dying to read your baby.

shannon p. said...

You always have GREAT advise! I can't wait to hear more about it...I'm with Leslie, I'm marking my calendar!

Mindi said...

tiffany is my IDOL.

and i fully support you winning the kami giveaway--it's good karma coming back to you.

i would totally be shy when it came to handing it over, as well--which is funny for a girl who can be a bit of an attention whore at times--but i put myself in your position and got a tad bit nervous for you.

but then i remembered, if i WAS tiffany, the book would be stellar.

so then i was okay. (WHHHEEEEWWWHH!)

Soul-Fusion said...

I don't think I have ever heard anyone read what I have written outloud and the only thing I have ever read aloud that I have written are speeches. Great tip.

Travelin'Oma said...

I would feel so vulnerable letting someone read my writing out loud to others and me at the same time, but I can see what a great idea it is. I feel more comfortable sending it out to the great beyond where nobody knows me. Writing is so private, but the point is to be public.

I love the way you express your thoughts.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I also wish Senator Kennedy had lived to vote for a health care bill.

Shannon said...

Great idea. I think I'll have my students give that a try. It's always such a struggle to teach 8th graders how to revise and edit.

btw, I found a great writing group in my neck of the woods. There are five of us, and we each email 10 pages of whatever we're working on to each other a couple of days before we meet. We print each other's work, read it, mark it up with suggestions, then discuss when we get together. It is extremely effective.

Good luck on the book.

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