#1 Key to Good Presentation: Read Your Story Aloud, Now!

Let’s focus today on story presentation!

If you haven’t been keeping up, this is a post in the developmental editing series here on Vanilla Grass Writing Resources!

My post on developmental editing tips and tricks is short and sweet today. But don’t skip it! This can make a huge difference if you’re doing your own edit.

To finish up the lovely and not gross at all body metaphor we have going, we’re going to finish with the presentation of your novel, or the skin sack we mentioned earlier.

Yeah, I said it.

This falls a lot on copy and line editing, but I feel like it needs a quick mention here because it’s so important. And there’s one easy trick that will help you improve most aspects of your writing every time.

I’m talking about reading your work aloud!

a woman with mouth wide to represent reading your story aloud

Why you need to read your story aloud

You can do this by reading it aloud yourself, having a computer read it to you, or having a critique partner do the honors. You see, listening uses a different part of our brain than reading, and our ears catch a lot of mistakes our eyes miss!

Reading your work aloud can help you immediately hear and improve:

  1. sentence structure
  2. plot holes
  3. awkward sentences
  4. non-sequiturs
  5. inconsistencies in your character’s dialogue or inner thoughts
  6. and more!

I highly recommend it to everyone looking to edit their own or other people’s works. In fact, when I’m considering a manuscript for publication, I will read the first chapter aloud.

This not only gives me the benefit of taking my more critical editor eyes off the project for a moment but also lets my ears hear the story in your work!

And that’s it for presentation and developmental editing today. Super simple and easy to do, but essential to your story’s body!

Now you have your bones (theme), ligaments (character development), muscles (scenes), blood (author voice), and skin to make it all look nice (presentation)!

An image of the ligaments, muscles, etc. of the human body as an illustration for the developmental editing points theme, character development, muscles, author voice, and presentation.

Other Presentation Good Practices

As a few other guides to general presentation good practices (especially if you plan to submit to an editor/agent/beta reader):

  1. Always double-space your manuscript.
  2. Use Times New Roman or another gentle serif font in 12 font.
  3. Indent your paragraphs (at .31).
  4. Add page breaks after each chapter, don’t just space down to a new page.
  5. Choose how you’re doing direct inner thoughts or telepathy (usually italics), texts (usually a non-serif font each on their own line), music or poems (italicized and page centered), and any other unique writing elements in your story and make them consistent! No changing your mind later unless you change it all.
  6. Double-check for any inconsistent paragraph spacing, line spacing, or whatever else, and correct as needed.

These aren’t developmental editing specific, but go miles in making reading your manuscript a pleasant experience!

If you have any specific developmental editing questions, ask them below and I’ll just do a Q&A for next week’s post! If there are none, or after that, we’ll be heading into how to pitch to teach at a conference!

Until next time!

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