The reader sees the piece differently to the listener

The piece may sound polished enough for the person listening to it. It’s been done over thorough enough, hasn’t it?


The scenario is that you’ve finished the first draft of a piece for a print publication. You read it to a family member.

Reading a piece aloud to someone may get a positive reception if the person thinks it’s good. To the listener, it sounds polished enough. It sounds thoroughly done, but a listener is not a reader and the piece one has written is for readers and not audio listeners.

Readers engage the real text. If the piece is meant to be read, the reader may pick up on things that look awkward if the piece hasn’t been edited. Especially editors reading the piece for the second or third time.  Listening to a piece is more fluid, one gets the gist more than the details, and mistakes may be less noticeable.

Don’t trust the listener of your work as the final word on a piece intended for online or print. A listener engages differently to a reader. If the piece is meant to be read, there will probably be things that need to be worked on in the first draft. On closer inspection of the piece, blemishes appear that need to be ironed out.

So, one may get a reader or trust one’s own editorial judgment without input from a reader.

One must look closer.

I remember a couple of times when I submitted a piece for print, thinking it was done and dusted, and sounding the best. The reply from the editor a few weeks later started with an echo that has haunted me for years. “On closer inspection…”

Then there was the thud of a rejection letter.

There sounds like a moral to that story and there probably is. Remember to check one’s work thoroughly, especially for people reading it, and edit where appropriate for listeners to a piece.

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