ERWA Editing Corner

by | December 11, 2016 | General | 10 comments

In praise of reading out loud

By Sam Kruit (ERWA Editor in Chief)

It’s the end of the year, so I’m going to keep this short and
light and highlight just some of the issues that programmed spell and grammar
checks can never save you from.

If editors aren’t in your budget, and beta readers do things
in their own sweet time, read your work out loud. Seriously. It’s the best
investment of time you can make towards the end of the polishing process.

You’ll catch over-long sentences. You’ll catch awkward
punctuation. You may catch words spelt correctly, but used wrongly. You’re more
likely to pick up on formatting issues. And by focussing on each word
individually, hopefully you’ll rescue yourself from the kind of goofs that
continue to crop up in journalistic writing all the time—ones that even bypass
the section editor or editor in chief.

Read, learn, and giggle if so inclined! Have a great festive

Lesson 1:  one letter
out of place changes everything…

Before Miss
Colverson concluded her concert with a rendition of ‘At the end of a perfect
day’ she was prevented with a large bouquet of carnations by the Mayoress.

weather: A depression will mope across Southern England.

Unless the
teachers receive a higher salary they may decide to leave their pests.

The Red
Cross found a bed for him in an institution specialising in the treatment of

Mrs Norris,
who won a brace of pheasants, kindly gave her prize bark and this raised £5.50
for the funds [this one’s 30 years old… so about £35, really!]

The bride
was very upset when one of the bridesmaids stepped on her brain and tore it.

Lesson 2: keep an eye on the relationship between subject and

consuming about a hundred portions of chips, 28 pounds of sausages, rolls ice
cream and cake, the Mayoress presented the trophies to the boys.

A carpet
was stolen from Walsingham Hall over the weekend. Measuring six by six feet,
the thief has baffled the police.

Parents and
teachers are definitely to blame here. You find them playing on both main and
by-pass roads, throwing each other’s caps and dashing out after them, and many similar

Today’s tip
tells you how to keep your hair in good condition. Cut it out and paste it to a
piece of cardboard and hang it in your bathroom.

‘We saw
over thirty deer come to the forest to feed in the early morning,’ said Mrs
Boston, and added that they had thick sweaters and several flasks of hot tea
with them.

A quantity
of drugs were discovered by a sniffer dog hidden in a cigarette packet.

Lesson 3: Watch the juxtaposition of information…


body urged.

celebrated soprano was involved in a serious road accident last month. We are
happy to report that she was able to appear this evening in four pieces.

The boy was
described as lazy and insolent, and when asked by his mother to go to school he
threatened to ‘smash her brains out’. The case has been adjourned for three
weeks to give the boy another chance.

Lesson 4: there is such a thing as trying to say too much in
too few words…







Firemen in
Yorkshire received over 20 letters of thanks today thanking them for their
efforts which destroyed five houses yesterday.

Sam Thorne

Sam Thorne is an editor, ghost-writer and semi-successful feller of trees from West Sussex, England. After years of enjoying everyone else's steamy stories, albeit with red pen in hand, Sam was finally bullied into overcoming writer's stage fright by a bossy friend, releasing Single-Syllable Steve in May 2015. Sam also has stories in the anthologies Mad about the Boys (House of Erotica) and His Seed (Lethe press) pending release later this year. Sam has a soft spot for historical fiction, everything ever written by Bill Bryson, and the intricate first-world farces of PG Wodehouse. Favourite hobbies other than writing include cooking and unfair-rules football.


  1. Corbin A. Grace

    I think I'll have to hire a down-on-his-luck veteran character actor to read my stories. The sound of my own voice is unpleasant to me. Or a Hollywood actress, no longer able to work, as she's too old to portray a septuagenarian's love interest. Twenty-seven (gasp!) is such a cruel age. I wish I could read confidently. I listened to an audio book of "The Stranger" by Camus once only to discover how much humor there was in it that I'd missed reading it.

    • Sam Kruit

      The idea is that you're reading for rhythm etc and you're not obliged to listen to a recording of your own voice. I know very, very few people who'd be comfortable with this exercise for exactly the reason you've given. It's not often that a telephone answering message is nailed down on the first 'take', lol. I love your idea of hiring someone to read your story for you! Now that would be fun to listen to….

  2. Belinda LaPage

    I've met that mayoress. If you sit next to her at a dinner party, keep your fingers clenched or risk losing them.

    Reading aloud is great advice, but if you're a shrinking violet like me, a good alternative is to have Microsoft Word read it to you using the SPEAK function. I use it to do all my final proofing.

    Thanks for the LOLZ.

    • Sam Kruit

      Ah, I take it you're talking about the food-devouring mayoress rather than the one trying to prevent an encore, using a huge bunch of flowers as a weapon 😀

      Where is the speak function? Where? Tig want to learn!!

  3. Rose B. Thorny

    I may not read out loud very well, but I surely laughed out loud throughout your post. One of the funniest typos I ever read was in a newspaper real estate section. The property in question was "close to all pubic facilities."

    Thanks for the informative yet supremely hilarious post.

    Rose (who will see any typos *after* she posts her comments)

    • Sam Kruit

      thanks Rose! And I love the pubic facilities, lol. "We shall be having no razors, pants or dildoes here…." I'm glad you enjoyed a spot of Sunday silliness!

    • Ali Devereux

      Great tip! I often read pieces I'm not sure about out loud. But I have to remember to do this when no one else is around to hear me…

      So many delightful examples here, I simply cannot pick a favourite. Thanks ever so much for the giggles!!!

    • Sam Kruit

      I find that left-over nuclear bunkers are good places to read to oneself. Yes, I'm shy too 😉 I'm glad you were tickled by this silly array!

  4. Lisabet Sarai

    Isn't English grand?

    Unfortunately, I find that even reading aloud, I will misread typographic errors like the bride's train.

    That's why I have a husband… ;^)

  5. Sam Kruit

    all hail the proof-reading husband! Heh.

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