No, I don’t mean reading your work out loud. I mean telling the story. To another person.
“Sounds weird,” you’re saying. Maybe even, “What’s the point?” Or, “Nope. What I really need is an editor.”
Here’s the thing:
There are two main components of a story – 1. The story itself. 2. How the story is told.
No matter how beautifully your story is written, no matter how many literary bells and whistles you use, if the story itself isn’t sound, the rest of it just plain doesn’t matter.
Before you worry about rewriting–reworking scenes, rearranging the order of events–you need to make sure your plot, your storyline provides a solid foundation.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to tell your story out loud, to another person, allowing them to interrupt you as you go.
Feel free to keep your manuscript in front of you to remind you of the turn of events. Tell the story simply, the same way you might tell an anecdote about something amusing that happened to you that day. But don’t feel as though you have to stick to simply the events. Tell your listener about your characters, too–who they are, what their desires or fears are, what their backstory is, etc. Whatever it takes for them to understand the story.
Let them ask you questions along the way. Things like, “Why would that character want to do that?” Or, “Why wouldn’t they just do __ at that point?” Or even make observations: “Come on! No way would that happen!”
Don’t take it personally. Bounce other ideas off of them: “Okay, so if you don’t buy that, what about…?”
It’s a much smaller job for your bouncee (you’re not asking them to read a manuscript), and it can be really fun. And of course, the best part is that you wind up with a sturdy framework where you can then begin hang all your beautiful turns of phrase!