The other day I happened to be reminded of an old memory of my husband listening to the radio as he painted the walls along our basement stairs. The host was reading a school lunch menu . . . in French. Suddenly chicken or macaroni and cheese sounded sooo much more appetizing!
That reminded me of another memory of an old friend of mine, a fellow writer who also happened to have been an actress and TV journalist at various times in her life. She’s lovely, for one thing, but beside that possesses a voice that certainly added to her value in front of an audience, live or on the air. When she was writing, she would bring her manuscript to our critique group and read it aloud. Instantly, we would be swept up in the world she created with words and sound.
Finally, recently I listed to the audio version of Susanna Kearsley’s The Firebird. The story was well researched, the characters sympathetic and appealing, the plot with romantic elements well structured. But I think what I appreciated every bit as much as the writing was the performance of the narrator. She was completely convincing in each of the accents—British, Scot, Russian, even an American thrown in for good measure. I was right there in the world she created for me, even when she read the parts of the male characters.
I say all of this because sometimes the sound of words can so enhance the words themselves that it’s fun to read them aloud from time to time! Granted, the performance might make a difference, or the rhythm of the words themselves. I’m imagining how nice my work-in-progress might sound if I heard it in French or if someone with a rich voice and no fear of emoting did the reading. But as I recall another detail from my voice-talented friend, I didn’t want her to read my manuscript at our writer’s group because I knew she would make it sound better than it was, and I wouldn’t get the constructive criticism I was looking for. So there is definitely a right time, at least for a writer, to have our work performed.
But as readers, I think it’s a fun exercise to read a scene or two aloud from whatever book we’re enjoying, if only to let our ears enjoy the sound of musically written words.