Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Spoken Word

Sorry for a belated post this week. I spent Monday being lazy and uninspired and then Tuesday I left immediately after work to see Young Frakenstein the Musical, which was totally awesome and which also made me get back home at about 12:30 a.m. So I was a little too tired to be sure I was posting something coherent.

So! Onto my mostly coherent post!

I've discovered that I really enjoy hearing novels read aloud.

Not too long ago I listened to/watched Neil Gaiman read his book "The Graveyard Book" aloud at a series of taped book readings. (Which you can listen to here, if interested.) It was fabulous to hear his characters speak exactly how he imagined them (plus everything sounds better when read with an English accent, right?).

Then last year on the way home from a 11 hour or so drive from visiting out-of-state relatives, I got bored and started reading, A Game of Thrones aloud to my husband. I'd already read the book, so it was fun to hear my husband laugh or look surprised at the appropriate parts. After I lost my self-consciousness, I really got into it, trying to do different voices for the characters and speaking with their emotions. I got through about seven chapters in between breaks to rest my voice. I was almost disappointed when we reached home and I had to close the book

These past few months my friend and fellow YA author Shalena of Writer Quirk had been mentioning how she listened to books on her iPod frequently, and I decided to give it a try. I checked out "Jane Eyre" from my library's online selection and have been listening the last week and a half during every spare second. I've listened to it while running at the park, while cleaning my apartment, even for a little while after climbing into bed.

Hearing the words read aloud really seems to reveal the flow of a story and bring into focus the personality of the characters. I've found reading my own novel-in-progress aloud to be incredibly helpful in highlighting what's not quite working. I've found it also brings attention to words I use too often or other mistakes I'd never noticed before.

I still laugh over one particular error I found in my first attempt at a novel that has since been put in a drawer to wait until I think I can do it better justice. I must have read this certain passage a thousand times, but it wasn't until I'd read it aloud that I suddenly noticed I had a character drinking from a gauntlet instead of a goblet. I laughed until I cried at the mental picture of a knight drinking from a glove instead of a glass, and vowed I'd read everything of mine aloud at least once from then on so I would be sure to catch similar blunders.

I love the written word (I read almost anything set in front of me — pamphlets, business cards, ketchup packets...) but I'm starting to really appreciate the spoken word as well. I even read a few chapters from the sequel to A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, to my husband on the way to the theatre yesterday.

Maybe someday I'll get to read my own work to an audience. I'd probably be self-conscious at first, but I'm sure I'd get over it as I went on. I'd might even do the funny voices and everything.


  1. Love this! It is so true! I listen to many more books than I physically read these days, and while I do enjoy curling up with a good book, I just don't have the time.

    I don't think I would have fallen in love with the Harry Potter books if I hadn't gotten to hear Jim Dale's masterful interpretation of each and every Potterverse character over and over and over again. Nor would I have probably ever read Twilight (which could have been a good or bad thing :oP) or a truckload of other books that I listened to while doing other things.

    And I can't wait to be there when you read excerpts of your awesome novel aloud! I'll take pictures and everything! ^_^

  2. I could have sworn I commented on this...Probably tried on my iPhone and it didn't work, as it often happens.

    I would have never fallen for the Harry Potter series had it not been for the audio books. Same is true for Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse, Gallagher Girls, Tamora Pierce, and several others for that matter.

    Great post! I can't wait to be there for your first (of many) author readings!

  3. I think you did comment on this, but then when Blogger had its downtime, it ate your comment before I could respond.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting again! I just finished "Jane Eyre" and absolutely loved it. The woman who read it did a fantastic job. I could even differentiate the accents she used to tell which character was speaking.

    I'm listening to "Dragonflight" now, which I've already read at least three times over the years. I don't quite like the man reading this as much as I did the woman reading "Jane Eyre." Maybe I got too used to the nifty accents... lol.


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