Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lessons Learned from Reading Aloud

A few weeks back, I was chosen to read the first chapter of my current WIP, ANDERSON'S CURSE, at a conference.

It wasn't the first time I'd read aloud--but it was the first time I was asked to do so outside the requirements of a class. Here are some things I learned:

1. Reading aloud is excellent practice.

This is an obvious one, so I thought I'd get it out of the way. Published writers read their books aloud all the time--which means if you have stage fright, or feel nervous getting up in front of other people, it's best to get acclimated now.

It also gives you a chance to hear how your words come across auditorily, as opposed to physically on the page--which can lead to some further, necessary edits. If you have a chance to answer questions about your book, even better--it can help prepare for those nerve-wracking agent appointments.

2. You're going to flub up--just make sure it doesn't break your flow.

I read the same line twice--because I'm cool like that. Luckily, it didn't register in my brain until after I was done.

An audience member said, "Wow, I really liked the impact of that. Was that on purpose?" I responded, "No, that was just me being a goober."

This also goes for stuttering over words or sounds. Mistakes happen. Roll with them.

3. Film yourself.

My husband caught the above flub on film--and I'm thankful for it--because now I can remember not to do that again.

It also allows me observe my unconscious mannerisms, tics, etc.--which makes them easier to curb. This goes all the way back to a speech class I took in college. In the footage, I noticed, in my nervousness, that I slapped my hands against the podium every few minutes. To this day, I'm glad my instructor required us to film ourselves--it helped me see how I really came across (all hail, podium thumper).

4. Use the opportunity well.

At this reading, I was able to find out about an open mic session the following week--where I read the first chapter from my other book, TRISKELEON. Find opportunities whenever you can. The more you read aloud, the more comfortable you'll be with it.

Your turn! Have you read your material aloud? What was your experience?


Angelica R. Jackson said...

I appeared on a local community radio show and read my epic poem, Humbaba's Curse. It was kind of cool because we picked out music and everything, and the best tip I took away was to not rush through things. Give your words time to impact.

The Writer Librarian said...

Ooh, excellent advice--will definitely consider that the next time I read aloud. Sounds like a great poem, too!