Narrators, Writers, and Writing (a book review of sorts)

Right now I’m in the middle of Dodie Smith’s delightful novel, I Capture the Castle (1948).

I’m not sure why I haven’t read this book before now considering my anglophile literature addiction.

I saw the film version a couple of years ago, so I know the plot. At its core, ICTC is a coming of age story told from the point of view of nineteen-year-old Cassandra living in a crumbling castle with her family in the 1930s. What draws the reader in is the cast of eccentric yet entirely believable characters. Literary references to other books, love interests, and, of course, many complications make the story highly readable.

What I am falling for is the story of a writer and the struggles of writing. Cassandra is writing about her life in her diary as a writer working on gaining experience, yet it’s not just this is what happened to me today. The narration reveals the challenges faced by writers, this is what I’m attempting to portray through words today.  At one point, Cassandra reflects on her writing about her feelings for a boy named Stephen and is terrified of her own honesty, “I should rather like to tear these last pages out of the book. Shall I? No—a journal ought not to cheat.”

I would agree. Any good story ought not to cheat.

>Fear of Proofreading

>I confess, there’s one part of the writing process I dread the most. I shouldn’t. I should be in an almost celebratory stage, for proofreading means the project is almost done. I should be singing, “I’m at the last step!”

Yet, this is the part where I am most likely to doubt and question everything I’ve written on the page.

Thousands of questions flood my mind: Does this even make sense? Why does this sentence sound weird? Does a comma really need to go there? Did I miss a letter spell check didn’t mark?

This time I tried something different;  I read my manuscript aloud.

As I have mentioned in other posts, hearing writing brings a new perspective to the language.

I broke up the readings into parts and even read in character.

The result: It was much easier for me to find typos and illogical sentences. Repeated words jumped out clearly and awkward phrasing stuck like peanut butter in my mouth. I’ve read through this manuscript so many times, but hearing the words was a different experience altogether.

So now I know what I’m going to every time I proofread
Or proofspeak.

Have you ever read your work aloud? What did you find in the process?