Gallop Aloud

Hello, dear Readers. I’ve been visibly neglecting the blog for a while–I hit a burnout stage with the Friday Writing posts, and after my personal life fell apart in flaming fragments, well, the time and inclination was seriously lacking. I had very little energy, and what I had I had to spend on deadlines. (Speaking of deadlines, you can find an announcement about Bannon & Clare here.)

But things are a little better now. I was out at 7AM with Miss B., ran a respectable three miles in just a few minutes over a half-hour. Running outside is very different than slogging away on the treadmill–harder on the knees and lower back, certainly, and I wouldn’t be running outside if I didn’t have the dog. The companionship and protection factor is not inconsiderable at all.

While I ran, I was putting together the Ride of the New Guard, which is to say, a particular piece in the book I’m working on now where I want the rhythm of a gallop to come through the words. It’s going to require some specific music, and some breathing, and some reading things out loud to get it right.

I am always amazed by people who say they don’t read their dialogue aloud to check for rhythm. Often, problems with dialogue or the “scan” of a piece can be fixed by looking for rhythm and breathbreaks–those places where one runs out of air and naturally take a breath. Reading is most often a silent personal activity, but the flow and ebb of speech is still the most natural framework for a story. Emphasis and stress, the upward inflection of a question, the cadence of education or dialect, all these things are a richness just begging to be used, as well as a forensic tool. Often, when you can tell a sentence isn’t right, saying it aloud will show you where the catch is. (Diagramming the sentence sometimes works too, but only in a small number of cases. YMMV, of course.)

Reading your work aloud to yourself (I add the “to yourself” because reading aloud to others is a special sort of hell for me personally, one I avoid whenever possible) also helps with immediacy–feeling it in your own corpus, and therefore being able to bring it to a Reader.

So, while running this morning, I was thinking of the cadence of a gallop, and how to bring that through. Which will mean a lot of muttering as I stare at my screen today, fingers tapping, and my body remembering what it was like to ride a horse. Of course I’ll look crazy, but that’s beside the point. Crazy’s pretty relative if it pays the bills.

Or so I keep telling myself.

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