Are You A Swooper?
“Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.” - Kurt Vonnegut
I am a swooper, as defined by Kurt Vonnegut. I can write pages and pages in a session, but those pages are nowhere near ready to be read until they go through massive amounts of edits. Editing is one of the most awful, but important, parts of my novel creation. Without incredibly through editing, I would have never gotten published.
Now, for many burgeoning authors, hiring an editor is not economically feasible. Having others read your work is incredibly important, but you need to get your manuscript into a state that can be read by others. To do that, I listen to my entire work out loud.
I know that sounds tedious, and it is, but it is vital to my success. I listen to my novels two different ways. First, I read my prose myself. This helps me understand the cadence of the story, and it really helps with figuring out if my dialogue rings true or is forced. What me reading my novel myself doesn’t do well is catch errors. I find I read what I wanted to write, not what I actually wrote.
Don’t worry though, that’s why I have the computer read my work back to me. I use Microsoft Word, and now all versions of Microsoft word come with a speech to text tool. (Google Microsoft Word speech to text Version whatever you have to find out how to enable it). I highlight whatever section I want to hear, and then the computer reads it to me. It reads exactly what I wrote, how I wrote it, so if I added extra words, dropped commas, overused a word, I hear it.
Now, the mechanical voice can be a bit weird to get used to, but often you can pick from a series of voices to listen to. (I listen to a robotic British lady. I think her cadence is better than the rest of the voices on my computer.) You’ll get used to the voice after a little bit, and I think you’ll find you’re sentence creation will vastly improve.
I first had this idea after listening to a particularly rough audio book. It dawned on me that an incredibly easy way to distinguish good writing from bad writing is to listen to it. Try listening to your own prose, both from your mouth and from the computer speaker. I think you’ll find your writing improves the more you listen to it.