Matt Bell, writing a bit about his drafting process HERE, brought up that he reads out loud a lot when editing. I also do that. I don’t know of any essays that treat this aspect of editing in-depth. But Christine Schutt does talk about it HERE. An excerpt:
Beyond the charge delivered by reading great work is the experience of teaching it. How does a fiction mean? My own contention is that meaning is a product of structure and sound, and the best writers are alert to the ways in which language is manipulated. How a fiction is made involves the reader’s detection of the most manipulated sentence in an opening paragraph. Always there is one sentence that gives the story direction. Such a sentence is the story in miniature so that locating this sentence is the key to the room the reader is about to enter. As a writer, it means knowing which sentence will direct your own composition. An abstractly phrased desire, like this one, for wide experience, “I wanted proximity to darkness, strangeness,” falls in the middle of the opening paragraph to the Leonard Michaels story, “Murderers,” and it is this sentence that determines and describes all that happens from the boys’ experience of the primal scene to one boy’s death. Sex and death are the two darkest and strangest experiences of all.
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.