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arches140's avatar

Is there a particular way professional writers read their work out loud to the pubic?

Asked by arches140 (72 points ) September 11th, 2011

In this past month I’ve been to two book signing/readings by different authors. The first time I went, the author read their writing (it was fiction) with kind of a serious and slightly monotone voice. I thought this was kind of odd, because I’m used to hearing and reading stories with more energy and dynamics, but I just thought it was probably that specific author who wanted to read in that way.

But then, just recently I went to another reading with my boyfriend, and this author was doing the same thing! Is this normal, or just a coincidence that they sounded the same? I don’t know much about the professional writing world, so maybe I’m observing something that’s pretty typical. Idk

Can anyone shed some light on this? thanks :)

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14 Answers

janbb's avatar

I think you’re on to something. I don’t have any data to back you up but I have noticed a similar thing when hearing writers read from their works – even poetry – on the radio.

everephebe's avatar

No way! If the writer is no good at reading their work that’s one thing but there is no one way to read if you are a published writer. I have heard and seen quite a few writers and if they are any good they will have a decent reading voice & style. There are certainly authors who are better writers than readers/performers but still… If you are getting paid to do a reading you better not suck!

ddude1116's avatar

I think they’re just shy. I know that I write because I prefer it to speaking, so if I were to read it, it’d be awkward and monotoned, too.

dreamwolf's avatar

Not all writers, are particularly good readers. As far as I’m concerned, the author is just in charge of the story. All that work and time spent, drafting and editing is tiring in itself. Furthermore, pushing your own works in public can also be stressful. So perhaps they are going into their safe voice. Writers and storytellers, can embody two totally different people.

arches140's avatar

@everephebe and @dreamwolf so there’s not a particular way/s of being taught how to professionally read your work?

I have a few friends who have their BA in Creative Writing and none of them said they were taught it, but it may be because it might be addressed in a higher MFA program which is usually for more serious writers.

XD's avatar

It’s a separate skill, and it probably depends on how much of a recluse the author is. I heard Chuck Palahniuk read once, and he was great. Tony Hillerman (may he rest in peace) reading was a calamity.

marinelife's avatar

I have heard professional authors that read well and with verve. It is not a meme for it to be monotone.

everephebe's avatar

@arches140 I really doubt there is a single MFA program that addresses readings in that way. There is no school even of thought on out loud authorship that I am aware of at any level. It is a separate skill that is either developed or not depending on the author themselves.

tranquilsea's avatar

Not many people are really used to reading out loud anymore. I sucked when I first started reading to my kids. I’m awesome now because I worked on slowing down, scanning the text ahead of time, and reading in a manner meant to entrance.

Once my kids are out of the house I am seriously considering reading books out loud for Librivox.org

everephebe's avatar

@tranquilsea Oh if you ever do you must post links!^

dreamwolf's avatar

@arches140 Actually anyone who has a BA should have taken a communications class. That’s where you are taught how to address the public in a professional manner, either speech, or overall audience presence and stuff. Stage fright pretty much applies to everyone, some just have routines to counter it pretty fast on stage. :D

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve heard some authors read in a very flat way and others with a lot of expression. Neil Gaiman, for instance, reads from his stories as if he were interested in them and excited about sharing them. If you listen to old recordings of, say. Dylan Thomas or W. B. Yeats, they are anything but monotonous.

I even heard one author who had memorized her entire selection and proceeded to act it out with movements, character voices, etc. (I thought that was a bit over the top.)

For myself, I like to read with expression, but not exaggeratedly so, not like an actor interpreting a part in a play; rather, just enough to render it with sense and meaning and, where appropriate, add a little drama or humor. I speed up or slow down a little here and there, drop or raise my voice, sometimes draw out a word or phrase, or pause briefly for effect—all in keeping with the content. To do this, you have to keep your eyes a little bit ahead of your mouth so you know what’s coming, and you have to practice. My delivery is usually considered successful.

everephebe's avatar

@Jeruba I enjoy Neil Gaiman reading his work.^

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