Do you listen to your writing? No, I don’t mean have you read your writing. Have you listened to it?
There’s a natural rhythm to words that we often forget. I’d go so far as to say that rhythm is more important than grammar and punctuation. You can fix these, but if your writing doesn’t sing to your readers, then it’ll sink.
The sound of your writing is a subtle cadence, an inner tune that ebbs and flows like a wave on the shore. Constantly moving, the melody in your story communicates a deeper layer to your reader. Deeper even then mere words on paper.
In the same way that a musician will link different notes together to make a tune, so a writer needs to link syllables and words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs, which at once transcend and support the meaning of the actual words.
Each writer will create his own unique melody: a leitmotif that is instantly recognisable in the same way that a symphony by Mozart is recognisable from the opening bars the orchestra plays. This refrain is what draws a reader into the story and it’s an intrinsic part of the writer’s voice.
You can’t learn a rhythm, but you can feel it. Where does your writing feel wrong to you? Where does it feel right? Logic and your inner editor may tell you that you have the words perfectly constructed. But if a word or a sentence or chapter doesn’t feel right, your natural rhythm may have come unstuck.
Read your work – aloud or in your head – but listen as you read. Try to find the parts of your writing that “flow” and see if you can identify why it sings to you. And, once you’ve discovered the sound of your writing, you can let your own voice soar…because why write a song when you can write a symphony?
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