Adventures In Audio Recording VII
Okay now that we've covered as much of the technical that I'm aware of, let's move on to a new topic, namely doing the actual reading aloud. Now the first thing I'm going to say
is please do not make yourself sound like Ben Stein. Unless of course your book is about curing insomnia, in which case then you might make a bundle on the open market.
People do not want to hear a lifeless dull monotone performance. You put a lot into your work to make it come to life on the written page. Now you have to bring that same life into your reading. Mind you I'm not saying you have to put together a full-fledged performance complete with sound effects, mood music, and an entire cast. But you do need to give your listeners an interesting and gripping experience. Try to get them caught up int he moment with your voice and delivery. But equally as important you have to make sure your speaking clearly, not too fast, nor too slowly. You need to enunciate properly so they don't get hung up on a badly pronounced word and are now falling behind as the rest of the story continues, while they're trying to figure out what you meant to say.
Now if you've already done loud readings and have entertained people with them, you're off to a great start. In my case I took a theater class back in the day and have been part of Toastmasters, so I have a lot to fall back on to help me. Plus I've read aloud to many people and have been complimented on my ability to make the characters come alive for the audience.
Now if this sounds like more than you can handle, you might want to look into some training or hiring someone as a narrator. Even with my experience, I've been having a hard time with my recordings and making sure they come across as professional as possible. I've been able to give a lot of technical information here, but actually delivering a good reading is a whole other ballgame for me. I'm very demanding of myself and want to produce a really top-notch product. So far, those who've been listening to the chapters I've already recorded and edited are very pleased with the results. Some, who listen to a lot of Audible books, have told me I'm as good if not better than a number of narrators they've listened to.
I think that may be partly because I not only read but give each character a different voice and wind up with a narration/performance recording. But while I do so I am trying to pay attention to a number of factors like:
- Pacing: I have to struggle not to get too caught up in the performance that I don't rush through a scene no matter how exciting I find it.
- Pausing: Remembering to actually leave a pause at periods and commas. This is a bit of an issue for me, so keeping pacing in mind helps a lot. So in my case the two go hand in hand.
SIDENOTE: Why yes I am a big fan of the muppets, how did you know?
- Emoting: Okay this goes back to my earlier comment about Ben Stein. Remember the listeners cannot see you, so you have to let your voice carry the day when it comes to emotions or giving the audience a sense of urgency, anxiety, worry, passion. You don't have to go overboard like this guy...
But just let some feeling into your voice to give the audience a feel for the moment.
- Emphasis: This area can be tricky. Luckily if you're the author or the author is someone close who can help coach you on this part, you'll be in good shape. Deciding where to put emphasis (making a certain word/part of a sentence) can be simple or not. In my case I recently had an occasion where I was doing a voice-over on a book trailer for my wife Helen's latest solo novel. She had created a sentence that was a bit long, but technically correct from a writing standpoint. However, I was having trouble finding where to put the emphasis on certain sections within the one sentence. I'm putting the trailer just below so you can see and hear it. The area in particular is about halfway through it where I start talking about "The shadows of Prohibition..." It took me a couple of takes to get this line just the way she wanted, but the result was spot on.
I feel we've covered a lot today so I'm going to leave our discussion here for the moment, partly because I'm going to a class on Voice-Over work on Monday. Hopefully I'll have more things to share with you all in my next entry in two weeks. I do hope this and the previous entries regarding Audio Recording has been helpful to you. There's still probably a couple of more entries to do before I finish this topic... and even then I might do more down the road as I finally prepare myself to actually submit an audiobook to ACX/Audible. That will probably be an adventure in and of itself, so stay tuned.
Until next time, keep writing and recording my friends.