Want an easy way to improve your writing skills?
Here you go: read your writing aloud once you’ve written the final draft.
You’ll pick up awkward phrasing, and much more.
When I read aloud, I stay alert for tautologies; they grind on my nerves.
In this blog post, Angela Booth’s Writing Blog: Professional Writing: 5 Easy Tricks, I gave you some examples of tautology:
“Be alert for tautologies: saying the same thing twice. For example: “free gift” (a gift is, by definition, free), “on a daily basis” (just write “daily”), and “new innovation” (innovations are always new).”
I’m also alert for words like “actually”, which I tend to overuse.
You’ll have your own favorite bugbears. They’re easy to spot when you read your material aloud.
Here’s another big benefit: if you get into the habit of reading your work aloud, you’ll develop a conversational style, which is a good thing, if you’re writing for the Web.
I have my own theory about iPads and other tablet computers: we love them because they’re personal, just like the Web. Theoretically, you’re writing for millions of people when you write for the Web, but each person is an individual, sitting at his computer. You’re talking directly to him, with “talking” being the operative word.
The more you write as you speak, the better.
If there’s a problem…
Occasionally, you’ll write something or other, and you’ll know that there’s a problem with it, but you won’t know what it is.
Record yourself reading the piece, then play it back several hours later (this gives you a little distance.)
More often than not, you’ll spot the problem during the replay.
Apps which will read your writing to you
Text to speech apps are great for easy proofreading. Your app will catch errors you miss, because you’re too close to the writing. I use an app called NatualReader on the Web, and Text2Speech on my Mac.
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