Voices in Your Head:
How Audiobooks Can Improve Your Writing
By Richard Rieman
Do you hear voices in your head while writing? It can be a very good thing.
As a veteran Audible audiobook narrator, I am always impressed when the writing just flows smoothly without choppiness or a staccato pattern.
The late, great author and writing coach Gary Provost says reading your written words aloud will make you a better writer:
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words.
Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and
I create music. Music. The writing sings.
It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony.
I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length.
And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with the energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
So, write with a combination of short, medium and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write to music.”
Reprinted with permission from Gary Provost’s “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing “
Writing with Performance in Mind
Not surprisingly, the easiest books to turn into audiobooks are those written when the author had a screenplay or movie in mind.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Social Network, Steve Jobs) told a writing Master Class I attended, “I’m not writing something that’s meant to be read; I’m writing something that’s meant to be performed. Just having written a screenplay is no more satisfying to me that if a songwriter handed out pieces of sheet music.”
Sorkin says it’s the difference between painting and a photograph. You are not just describing a scene, you are creating it, bringing it to life, letting it flow in both the dialogue and the surroundings. “Writing is painting,’ he says, “not photography.”
Writing with Audiobooks in Mind
Thinking of an audiobook performance can help your writing if you have well drawn, believable key characters. Paint them as real people with likes and dislikes. Give them dialog that makes them authentic, saying things real people say. Make them active, moving the story along. Don’t fall into the “this happened, then that happened, then that other thing happened” writing trap. It’s how the characters feel, how they are affected by events that makes them more real, and makes your readers care about them.
So, pay attention to those voices in your head when you are writing your next novel and you may find yourself creating music, painting a picture, and telling a story that will be a great audiobook!
Richard Rieman of AudiobookRevolution.com is an audiobook self-publishing consultant, a top 10% Audible narrator, and in-studio producer of authors narrating their own titles. Richard is an author of “The Author’s Guide to Audiobook Creation,” Gold Medal Winner of the Global eBook Award in Writing/Publishing. He also teaches online classes on how to create audiobooks at Audiobook Masterclass. Join Richard on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.
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