Next time you're listening to an audio medium (such as the radio or a podcast), listen to how the person speaks rather than just what they're saying. Much like "he said" as a dialogue signifier, there are certain sounds that go along with actual words that our brain just ignores. The inhalation at the beginning of a word or the exhalation at the end are prime components.

When you translate all this to an audio file, it offers representation to these various elements of speech. A sound wave spikes from volume and different mouth formations (the plosive, P, throws a blast of air against the mic--it's the fastest way to spike your sound chain). In addition to the word, though, you see little squiggles before and after someone speaking. Now, little squiggles can represent a lot of things. It's a light sound, like noise in the background or the chair squeaking or your throat clearing. When a person isn't speaking, you want their audio wave to be flat otherwise it can distract from other speakers.

First-time podcasters often make the mistake of silencing the squiggles that appear before or after someone speaks, assuming that it makes for a clearer file. When you listen to it, however, it actually sounds worse. We expect to here someone inhale and exhale. Not only that, the vocal chords are still vibrating at the end, mixed in with the inhalation, and it can sound like someone has stopped speaking in the middle of the word even though the word is technically finished.

This is called clipping. If you listen to a sound file where all the inhalation and exhalation is removed, the speakers sound like robots. We've developed social cues to tell others when we're going to speak, and as a listener, when those cues are missing, it just sounds like a bunch of words being mashed together rather than a conversation. The more seasoned you are at podcasting, the more annoying clipping can be (nails down a chalkboard, really).

I bring this up because I started reading THE TRIAD SOCIETY. I don't know why. I was struck by an overwhelming need to receive a full request from the partial that's out there. I wanted to make sure the three chapters that I sent are the best they can be. So I popped open my nook (I have a copy of the manuscript on there) and began reading with full confidence that I had knocked things out of the park. I received great feedback from beta readers, and I felt that I had really improved things before sending it on. I revised, I reread, I gave everything the thumbs up.

But you can miss things when you incorporate changes from multiple sources. Things blend together and even though you reread it, your brain might fill in holes with stuff that isn't there any more. Or you may change something and then change it again, not realizing that the second change doesn't quite fit.

I found three instances where the scene is clipped. I chopped stuff that had been too long, but now without any content, the transition doesn't make sense. It's not horrible. You can continue reading, but it's not smooth. It's clipped. And because this reading was spurred by a powerful need to succeed, my reaction is equally powerful. Oh no!!!1 Fingers crossed that the overall worth of the work survives the clipping.

As for you, give it a try next time you listen to DJs on the radio. You'll hear them breathing. It's a transitional sound that our brain recognizes even if we don't realize it. Make sure you have something similar in your writing after you edit.

1 OH NO!!!