Read Your Work Out Loud... to Someone Else!

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A harder challenge than it might first seem. Too many writers struggle to connect themselves to their story. They imagine shipping off their manuscript or clicking publish, then washing their hands of it. But this is not the case. If you don't believe in your story, why would anyone else? So take the plunge. Bring that story to life! Pick a powerful passage and a friend you trust. Ask them to help you rediscover just how much that manuscript you've poured hours upon hours into is worth. Trust me, it'll be eye-opening.

Break free of the monotonous grind of trimming and tweaking and actually love your story again!
 

tegeus-Cromis

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A harder challenge than it might first seem. Too many writers struggle to connect themselves to their story. They imagine shipping off their manuscript or clicking publish, then washing their hands of it. But this is not the case. If you don't believe in your story, why would anyone else? So take the plunge. Bring that story to life! Pick a powerful passage and a friend you trust. Ask them to help you rediscover just how much that manuscript you've poured hours upon hours into is worth. Trust me, it'll be eye-opening.

Break free of the monotonous grind of trimming and tweaking and actually love your story again!
This is a strangely hectoring post. Why are you assuming that people don't do this already, or that they don't believe in or love their story, etc etc?
 

Margaret Note Spelling

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Actually, I always find it more interesting to have someone else read my writing out loud to me! When someone else takes your work and reads it aloud, in a certain sense you're getting to experience, all through their unique intonations and tone, a glimpse of your writing through their eyes. What it sounds like to their ear, filtered through their brain. And it'll be different from what you imagined...but also, sometimes, better. Certainly educational.

I have read my own stuff aloud before (not often to other people, because my friends usually prefer to read it on their own :rolleyes:) but the thing about that is, I already know in my head how I think my writing should sound...so there's rarely any surprise to the result, if I'm the one doing it! Unlike a cold read of someone else's work--where it's easier to surprise yourself with your performance if you're immersed enough in the unfamiliar narration--you know exactly what's coming next and why. I actually use reading my own stuff more as an exercise in practicing my vocal skills than an exercise on my writing. I'm training to narrate audiobooks, and the closer my performance matches what I heard in my head as I wrote the words, the better I've done.

I wonder if that's why authors notoriously find it hard to narrate their own work--not just because they're rarely experienced at it, but because they're so close to the material that they have difficulty sounding truly spontaneous and genuine as they read it. I need to look into that--I do intend to narrate my own books when they're finished. Thanks for the topic! My thought processes may have twisted it a little, but that's just my own interests.
 
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Astro Pen

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I do a couple of readings of my work most weeks (or did until covid).
Short stories, but not novels, I write with reading aloud in mind. This especially applies to poetry, with its pauses and accentuations.
I recorded some mp3s lately just to keep the delivery process well oiled and working.
I actually find it slightly harder recording to "tape" than reading to groups. Probably due to the awareness that every imperfection is being made permanent. Rather than being transient.
It is just a cheap usb karaoke mic but works pretty well into audacity.
 

Margaret Note Spelling

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Hey, that's interesting, because I'm the opposite way! I find it hard to relax and enjoy the performing process when I'm reading to people in front of me, but on tape I guess I just know I can go back and edit it if I have to. (All video- and audio-editing software is God's gift to mankind as far as I'm concerned.) Do you narrate professionally at all?
 

Astro Pen

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Do you narrate professionally at all?
It has been suggested lol. But no I haven't really considered it
I was asked not to post MP3s on the forum but I'll PM you one of the short stories. Since you are training for audio books I would value your opinion.:unsure:

PS Okay I tried but it gave me a "file too large" error :(
 
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Margaret Note Spelling

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Yes, please! I would love to hear it. I would very much consider you to be helping me--to be able to compare notes with you on a specific performance and experience, would help me far more than studying even a professional production on my own.

Just a heads-up, though, I'm pretty sure I'll be offline for the next several hours. Sorry. :confused:


Edit: Oh. Maybe you could split it? And is it a .wav file or a .mp3, or something else?
 

paranoid marvin

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Some of the greatest authors and works of fiction were written to be read by the author to their children or a specific audience. M.R.James' ghost stories, Kipling's 'Just So' and 'Jungle Book' stories, A.A.Milne's Winnie the Pooh etc
 

CarBear

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Actually, I always find it more interesting to have someone else read my writing out loud to me! When someone else takes your work and reads it aloud, in a certain sense you're getting to experience, all through their unique intonations and tone, a glimpse of your writing through their eyes. What it sounds like to their ear, filtered through their brain. And it'll be different from what you imagined...but also, sometimes, better. Certainly educational.

I have read my own stuff aloud before (not often to other people, because my friends usually prefer to read it on their own :rolleyes:) but the thing about that is, I already know in my head how I think my writing should sound...so there's rarely any surprise to the result, if I'm the one doing it! Unlike a cold read of someone else's work--where it's easier to surprise yourself with your performance if you're immersed enough in the unfamiliar narration--you know exactly what's coming next and why. I actually use reading my own stuff more as an exercise in practicing my vocal skills than an exercise on my writing. I'm training to narrate audiobooks, and the closer my performance matches what I heard in my head as I wrote the words, the better I've done.

I wonder if that's why authors notoriously find it hard to narrate their own work--not just because they're rarely experienced at it, but because they're so close to the material that they have difficulty sounding truly spontaneous and genuine as they read it. I need to look into that--I do intend to narrate my own books when they're finished. Thanks for the topic! My thought processes may have twisted it a little, but that's just my own interests.

Good point! I have actually never had the stomach to ask someone to read my work to me haha. I can only imagine it would be an entirely frank and sincere experience.
 
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Teresa Edgerton

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Actually, this is the way a lot of critique groups operate, with the writer reading their work a loud and the rest of the group commenting afterward. Not any group that I ever belonged to, but I have heard of many that operate that way.

The problem with that, as I see it, is that those who listen may respond (unconsciously) more to the skill or lack of the same of the reader than to the text itself.
 

Biskit

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The problem with that, as I see it, is that those who listen may respond (unconsciously) more to the skill or lack of the same of the reader than to the text itself.

I think that's a very serious point - the presentation makes a huge difference. I've done four live-reading events so far, and for each one I spent time practising in the weeks before, partly to get the pacing right, but also things like making sure the page-breaks in my reading script corresponded to pauses in the flow. It really messes with the presentation to be fumbling to turn the page in the middle of a sentence. I didn't get to the point of having fully memorised it, but it certainly helped that the script was as much a prompt as something I was actually reading.

By the time I did the fourth one, I was getting reasonably OK at the reading aloud (aside from a small dentistry issue that meant I was learning to talk with a gap in my front teeth, which hardly shows in the video). For a really smooth presentation (and no script in hand!) the stories by Andrew Wallace at the same events are impressive. (e.g.
)
 

Elckerlyc

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Speaking from experience I can say that much depends on your presentation. It can be problematic if you don't hit on the right tone and rhythm from the start.
But, of course, that goes for everyone who is reading aloud, whether it concerns your own writing or someone else's.
I'd say much depends on why the reading is taking place. If it is to present your work, read it yourself. If you want to learn how your work is perceived, let someone else read it. (hopefully after he/she practiced reading it a few times earlier.)
 

Astro Pen

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The problem with that, as I see it, is that those who listen may respond (unconsciously) more to the skill or lack of the same of the reader than to the text itself.
I have a friend like that, and although her poetry is wonderful I am convinced she she could read a shopping list and the room would be in awe,
(and probably some newbies, swept along on the texture, would suggest she publish it ;) ).
 

paranoid marvin

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Jackanory was a children's programme on the BBC, in which a well known actor/actress would sit in front of the camera and tell a children's story over a number of episodes. Most of them were wonderfully read, with two of my favourites being Kenneth Williams and Rik Mayall. I think children especially know exactly what a well related story should sound like.
 

paranoid marvin

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And Bernard Cribbins.(y)(y)(y)

Yes, absolutely him as well; in fact I think he was quite a regular on Jackanory. And I'm sure the actors loved telling the stories just as much as we loved to listen to them; you could tell that the narrators didn't just want to sit and read a book, but to put as much life and oomph into the stories as possible.

In my opinion some books were absolutely meant to be read out loud; The Hobbit is one, and pretty much all of Rudyard Kipling and Rohald Dahl's work too - even if it's only to read them 'aloud' in our heads to ourselves.
 

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