Read Things Aloud! DANGER: Misunderstandings Imminent!

Okay, so this goes out to everyone – readers, writers, non-readers, non-writers, everyone (including myself)…

read things aloud!

After my appearance on the radio the other day, my two children (who have also just won writing awards!) were thrilled to be asked to read their most recent stories aloud for broadcast on the ‘Northern Beaches Book Club‘, a show on Northern Beaches Radio. The show is a lively, informative program about all things literary. Each week they talk to authors from near and far, discussing new book releases, and talking about upcoming literary events across the northern beaches. So naturally my two primary school-aged kids were a tad nervous…

They shouldn’t have been – they were naturals! They read loudly and clearly, giving inflection to dialogue and dramatic moments. I was so proud of them!

I also noticed that they didn’t stay 100% faithful to their stories in the written form. Once they started reading, they moved around attributions and prepositions, used slightly different sentence structures and added emphasis where none appeared on the physical page.


Their speaking voice was right to do what it did on (almost) every occasion for two reasons:

  • it more realistically reflected their natural way of putting words together, and
  • their stories read better because the meanings of individual words became clearer.

When I teach my creative writing classes I always include a session on ‘voice’, which includes tutoring students on their individual style. I encourage students to stay true to the natural way they put words together because that’s how they’ll eventually go on to develop their writing style. Throughout my class, they also have to read things aloud.

From watching my children, I’ve come to appreciate just how important this is… after all, how many times have you sent an email or text only to realise afterwards that it didn’t accurately convey your meaning? We all do it, including writers! It can lead to multiple subsequent messages explaining and re-stating, whereas if we just read our communications aloud more often we might avoid potential misunderstandings.

So, although I’ve always read my stories aloud before hitting ‘send’, I’m going to try vocalising other forms of written communication more often. Before hitting ‘send’, I might even read my messages aloud in a grumpy voice, because if the message still comes across okay, it must be ready to go!

Now there’s an image for you!

What’s that? You’d like a different image now, maybe even hear my children’s stories? Okay, here they are:


Alternatively, if you’d like to listen to the radio shows themselves, please find them here (Zena’s interview), here (Brandan’s story) and here (Ophelia’s story).

Zena Shapter

I write from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. #Ditmar Award-winning author. Movie buff. Traveller. Wine lover. Story nerd. Book Creator & Mentor. Founder & leader of the award-winning Northern Beaches Writers' Group / ZF Kingbolt.

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