Creating Voice: Why Reading Aloud is Important to Your Story

reading aloud


I wrote one short story, one flash fiction and three poems and emailed them all to the Lightship International Literary Prize in Hull, England.

Then closer to the deadline, a voice came to me at 3 am. An American voice with Caribbean instincts insisting on being heard. 

Sketcher, became the final short story I entered, and the one that survived the judges’ cut. The plot had holes in it, but the voice was urgent, funny, and the unreliable narrator was one I was rooting for as his bonkers tales about his brother materialized out of the keyboard.

I wanted to believe. And that’s the power of voice. 

When Sketcher, the novel came out over a year later, reviews all pointed to the voice as the immediate pull. The voice continued into the sequel SKID and remains one of my superpowers today, ten years later. I decided a long time ago, even in my early timid, halting days of writing that readers would “hear me with their eyes”. That’s why I read the narrator aloud again and again to mimic real speech before I consider any piece as complete.

I hopped on a plane in November 2011 bound for Britain. 4,700 miles, two jetliners, two trains and four glasses of wine later I was reading in Skid Beaumont’s voice at the Lightship International Literary Prize Award Ceremony. That’s how it all started. Here’s video to prove that reading aloud helps the voice pop off the page.