For anyone who has only written material to read, the switch to writing that must be spoken can be a minefield and that’s mostly because the novice writer imagines they are the same.
I’m talking here about a fictional story to be told and, on the surface, they should be the same; after all, many great novels have been turned into audiobooks. But these are rarely good audiobooks because they weren’t written specifically for that medium.
The strength of the printed story, like the audio reproduction, is that it allows the imagination to come into play, because even if a character can be described in a book, his image in our mind will be ours. Similarly, with an audio work, a character may appear, but unless described by another character, we have no idea of their appearance, and the listener’s imagination must fill in the gaps.
But with a work of fiction that must be narrated by a single voice, a direct narration cannot be done because there are too many clues missing. No matter how skilled the actor is as a storyteller, there is still the potential for confusion to arise when differentiating characters.
So where the printed page can be read –
“I’m going home now, I’m tired.”
“Really? I thought you looked quite lively.”
The reader knows that this is a conversation between two people because of the punctuation marks, but a listener does not and that requires the insertion of the ubiquitous ‘he said’, ‘she said’ to a degree that would not be acceptable to a reader , but it is necessary for a listener.
Adding background music and sound effects that can drown out or muffle the narrator’s voice can make the effect even more confusing.
If this seems trivial to the writer, he is wrong. If the story is to be told, it must be told well.
This is important due to the rise of the audiobook, especially Amazon’s Audible seal. Amazon is rarely wrong and is making a huge investment in promoting Audible, creating a great opportunity for the freelance writer. But simply taking your masterpiece and handing it to a storyteller is an injustice. It deserves to be rewritten with the listener more than the reader in mind, and there is another lesson to be learned here about brevity. With a printed page, you can easily skip a boring passage or turn pages forward until the reader re-engages with the story, but this is impossible with an audiobook because a fast-forward button on your MP3 player still leaves you guessing. where to restart your listening.
So cut it out, cut out the boring, no matter how delicious your prose is. The mere act of listening to a story, rather than reading it or sitting in front of a screen, means that the listener is most likely performing some other task at the same time. If you bore them, they will hit the Stop button before heading to Amazon for a refund.
This is, relatively speaking, a new medium and even a skilled playwright with radio writing experience can be caught up in the vagaries of a narrated text. Storytellers cost money as does study time, so it’s best to narrate yourself to begin with and let a friend or colleague comment on your efforts before incurring any expenses. If they understand every word and love it, you’ve done well and hiring a professional storyteller would be justified. But chances are, there are flaws and they need to be fixed before turning pro.
This is not an easy option because narrating a 60,000 word novel will span more than five and a half hours of audio at an average reading speed of 180 words per minute. But reading it aloud brings additional benefits, as it can aid the editing process and detect errors easier than reading it silently from a page or screen, so I would recommend recording your novel chapter by chapter so it doesn’t become a chore. too burdensome. in one session.
In conclusion, remember this. Hearing it is very different from reading it.