I recorded myself reading the first chapter out loud. It was educational to say the least.
I've heard it said that to really see where your story needs improvement, you should read it out loud. It's so true. I did different voices for the characters and everything and it still sounded like less than publishing quality.
Things I learned from this exercise:
1. I read out loud too fast. It's hard to have patience and not get nervous when reading for the first time.
2. My first draft and second draft versions both have awkward sentences. They are ugly to say and ugly to hear. Gotta clean those up.
3. Things I thought were implied for my characters really weren't all that obvious and I need to throw a little extra time into character description.
4. I have a greater respect for audio books and the people whose voices are recorded in them. I realize now just how good they are.
5. There are lots of cool sound effects on my computer that make me want to add in extra scenes to my story just so I can use them.
Because of this exercise, I thought of how cool it would be to record myself thinking out loud in the car. My commute could become an hour long writing session if I worked hard at it. It would probably improve my story telling abilities as well since I'd be saying things on the spot and wouldn't be able to delete or edit what I just said. It's a thought, anyway. I might try it on my way home tonight.