Why reading your manuscript to your child(ren) is great for editing

Provided that your novel is kid friendly, you may find your best editing comes from reading it aloud to your child(ren).

My 16-year old son is my victim.  He has such great listening ears.  I write YA fantasy (which is his favorite genre), he laughs with me when I stumble upon something I wrote that is wrong on so many levels, and he’s a great collaborator, (plus he has other teen reader buddies that I can bounce my teen ideas/dialogue, etc. off of).

I cannot tell you how many mistakes I have found from reading my novel out loud, and I’m not just talking tiny things like misspelled words or commas.  I’m talking big stuff, like entire scenes missing, or scenes that repeated because I copied instead of cut and pasted.  I find dialogue that stinks, words that don’t make sense in the text (i.e. He stood there, his thumb honked on his belt loop), and just plain getting phrases backwards, i.e. He put his mouth in his finger (yes, I actually wrote that).  I’ve also written past-tense words that aren’t words at all, such as ‘droven‘.  (and I call myself a writer).  🙂

Reading your manuscript aloud also makes it glaringly clear where your flow is off, when inflections are wrong, and when characters close doors that are already closed.  If your kids laugh at parts that aren’t funny, you need to rethink the section.  If they laugh where they’re supposed to, you  got it right.

A lot of parents wouldn’t dream of reading to a teen.  I’m thankful my teen is so involved with my novel and he loves it when I read it to him.  He usually gets a few good laughs out of it (much to my expense), and his opinions and suggestions have been invaluable.  Thanks to him, I’ve grown as an author and I’ve spent valuable and wonderful time with my son.

So, if you have kids and you write for kids, try reading your own novel to them and see what they do or say.  They may turn out to be the best pre-submission editor you’ll ever need.