Reading Aloud

I like going to panels on ‘reading my own work’, dreaming about the day when I’m asked to give a book reading of my own.

As you might know, I’ve started doing these posts in a vlog. Facing down my nerves and working on my public speaking… in private where I don’t have to face a live audience and can do as . When I’m not writing, I’m one of the voice actors for Anansi Storytime. And I haven’t counted out novel narration as a career choice.

So, I get some practice in reading stuff aloud, but not so often with reading stuff aloud in front of people.

Here are some tips from a workshop I attended at WorldCon75 entitled “Reading Your Own Work.”


Reading your own work is about five things.

  1. Pitch

    • The pitch of your voice can be high, low, or anything in between. Varying pitch can help keep interest. And you can pitch your voice to carry across the room, even without raising your volume, by projecting it.
  2. Volume

    • Being loud can get attention, but sometimes, speaking softly is what keeps the audience’s attention.
  3. Timing

    • Timing is knowing when to pause and when to keep going.
  4. Pace

    • Finding a rhythm and knowing when to — break it.
  5. Rhythm

    • You can use internal rhythm.
    • You can repeat vowel sounds or consonant sounds.

Ways To Play With Sound In Your Writing and Reading

  • To avoid your rhythm sounding like a rap, treat it like a sandworm – break the rhythm
  • Nothing succeeds like excess. When you read your work–Overdo it. Pretend you don’t think you sound ridiculous and have fun with it. If you’re enjoying yourself, the audience probably will, too.
  • “Tits and teeth to the gallery”
    • One of the other attendees is a singer from Yorkshire and gave this tip, for helping carry your voice to the back of the room.

When I went into the panel, I’d brought my first chapter, imagining, from experience with other workshops, that “Reading Your Work Aloud” meant I should bring some of my own work.

Instead, our panelist had us write a brief paragraph in 5 minutes. While thinking about all the things we just discussed.

Now, I typically think of my writing as matter-of-fact or introspective. In the past, I’ve declared that lyrical writing just isn’t what I do. But, when I set out to write a paragraph thinking about pitch, volume, timing, rhythm, and pace? This is what flew out of my pencil.

The pounding and churning of the ocean waves. They came again and again to wear away the remains of the wall that was. The wall that stood and grew when the town was strong and new.

Those days were past.

I’m not sure about you, but I think I might have some lyrical writing in me after all.

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