I had a teacher at uni who talked about many things including grammar but also how to read your own writing out loud. I’ve not forgotten the gist of her words and they came back to me tonight while watching a Port Fairy Literary Weekend Event. Port Fairy is a wonderful place, right on the coast so you can visit the sea fairly quickly. It’s a short hop from the South Australian border. We stayed there for a few days some years ago. Wandering the town was wonderful, there were several art galleries, a bookshop that also displayed art and a glass blowing establishment. There were various other touristy attraction type of things and we had a ball. The place I loved the most was Blarney Books and Art. They’re mostly a bookshop but have art hanging around and sponsor book-type or art-type events on a regular basis. I loved them so much I follow them on social media.
This year I discovered their YouTube channel and have been gradually working my way through their entire backlog of videos. I found a new one tonight and that’s what brought this article to life. Jo, of Blarney Books and Art introduces Danielle Binks as the moderator and Rob McDonald and Lyn Yeowart as the authors. They’re talking about McDonald’s and Yeowart’s new books. As a part of the recording both McDonald and Yeowart read a short passage from each of their books. With the advice in mind from my old teacher I listened carefully.
What I was told never really sat right with me and I feel everyone has to find their own way of reading, something that suits them and their temperament. I’m going to name names here because you might like her technique. What Laura Goodin told us was to essentially dramatise the reading. She wanted us to put emotion into the reading of our passages. That didn’t sit right with me because when I’m reading a book to myself that’s not always what happens in my mind. Generally the words just zoom through my mind without some of the emotion that would be there if actors were dramatising them. I’m not saying she’s wrong to dramatise the reading, just the it doesn’t sit right with me. If you watch the video you’ll see McDonald reads his extract and lets the words speak for themselves, while Yoewart puts a little emotion into her reading.
But then you start reading audio books and some people put little emotion into the words, letting them speak for themselves, other people are actors and they’ve put all their training into reading the words. I enjoy hearing these in a different way to the audio books where they’re not read by actors and the words speak for themselves.
I keep seeing myself write ‘the words speak for themselves’. I feel as if I’m dissing the theatric method of book reading, I’m trying not to do that, but it does feel as if that’s what I’m trying to do. I know I went into it thinking that the theatric method of book reading sounds as if your book needs a little more oomph, but I’m now wondering if that’s really what I think. Having realised I’m not sure what I think I’m going to suggest you need to try it out for yourself. Get some friends together and read various passages out to them. Read them in different ways and see what works for you. This has the added advantage of giving you experience in reading out loud. We tend to be quite insular as we sit writing away in our books or at our keyboards, so getting out and doing these other authorial duties is good for us. Possibly a bit of a challenge at first, but keep at it until you’re more comfortable.
If you’ve made it through to the end of this ramble I thank you for your perseverance.