When you get to what you think is the final, ready for submission, version of your manuscript – think again. Print out your manuscript, stand up from your desk, and read it aloud. Even if you’ve read it silently a dozen times, reading it aloud will be like you’re hearing it for the first time, because you are. “Hearing it”, that is. When reading silently you can skim right along but when you read aloud you have to pronounce every word – it not only slows you down; it also makes you pay closer attention. When you read aloud you will hear the rhythm of your words, you will hear how it flows along nicely; until it doesn’t. Listen to where you get tripped up and you’ll find those awkward sentence structures you missed when you rolled along reading silently. Listen for pauses and you will find gaps in the progression of your thoughts or transitions that don’t work. When reading aloud you will pick up on repetition: that transitional word you hear yourself saying, again and again, or the idea or information that you just said in the introduction and now hear it again three pages later. You may feel yourself go on a little too long and realize you have to go back and tighten things up.
Jot down quick notes as you read. Each time you do, start reading again from the beginning of the previous paragraph so you get back into the flow of the manuscript. When you’ve read all the way through go back to the computer and revise based on the quick notes you made. Then read it aloud again. Repeat until you have read it aloud smoothly nonstop from start to finish.
Now you’re ready to submit. Good luck!