From authors who are asked to read their own work at signings, to audiobook narrators, to podcasters, there are a lot of us out there who want — or need — to get better at readings.
At the titular panel, at Balticon 53, Tee Morris, Jean L Cooper, and Mike Luona shared their best tips.
6 Steps Toward Creating Character Voices
- Keep the character’s background in mind
- Use a key phrase to get into the character’s voice, to help with consistency
- Use your ‘normal voice’, (or something close to it), for the narrator and/or main character
- For opposite gendered characters, you can pitch up or down a touch, but don’t fake it
- For some female characters, a breathier tone works, even if you don’t change the pitch
- Listen to how other actors present their different characters
- For a fantasy accent — try combining 2 real world accents badly
- Avoid stereotypes!
- For accents, if you can’t skip it — try acting classes or online videos but do these with a light touch
5 Tips For All Readings
- Practice cold-reading
- Pick up a book at random and just reading a few pages!
- Hit the narration just as hard as the dialogue
- Paint a mental picture with your voice
- Know when to pause
- When a phrase becomes a stumbling block, slow wayyy down.
- If in practice — go over it very slowly, mouth it carefully, repeat it a few times, get that muscle memory in thereIf live — pause, mouth it to yourself, then try again
- Don’t be afraid to be dramatic – the audience builds off the energy you bring to the table. Feeling a little over the top is probably just right for most of us.
And one bonus tip, specifically for audio books:
- If you can, read the book to yourself once ahead of time, marking all proper nouns, unfamiliar words/terms, and confirm pronunciation before beginning.
Any tips the panelists ran out of time to mention? Anything I got wrong?
What do you do to practice? Any toastmasters out there?