"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." Elmore Leonard

One of the best tests of my novel writing process is when I get to the final read through.

The novel has been written and edited and put aside to percolate. It has been revised, and polished and by this time, I am better acquainted with my characters than I am with most of my friends and family.

When I get to he final read through -- it is all about how the novel SOUNDS. it is now the work for my ears (well, ear, as my right one just keeps my glasses on). I listen for three specific things:

1. Does this sound like an English teacher wrote it? (Even though I don't technically teach English anymore, the training is still always there, like the world's most insistent alarm clock -- "tsk, you ended that sentence with a preposition." "That should be 'whom,' not 'who,' you neanderthal."

One of the things about being an author is knowing the rules and, more importantly, knowing how and when to break those rules.

I want my novels to sound like normal everyday life, not like all of the sentences are about to be diagrammed and graded.

2. The second thing I listen for in my final read through is checking for character consistencies. As well as I have gotten to know my characters by this point in the process, I listen for each of their "voices." Does Ali sound different than Sam? Did Nicholas sound different than Zachary? I try to make sure to give markers so my readers always know who is speaking and I try to do this without having "said" every other line. (personal pet peeve)

3. The last thing I listen for is just the dialogue in general. I spend a lot of time listening to people talk (more than I spend actually listening to what they are saying, I am actually listening to HOW they are saying it). So I am also listening to how my dialogue sounds. Does it sound  like people actually talk? Would this character use this phrase? And then I fix anything that sounds false. But I read it out loud so I can really HEAR my words.