Today’s post is on a topic that I know pretty much nothing about, which is why I figured it would be great to have on here! I have basically no experience with audiobooks, so I was very excited with Brinda offered this ideas as her guest post.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King
I subscribe to Stephen King’s school of thought. Reading is vital to the writer. Because I spend so much time in the car during my daily commute of two hours, I listen to a lot of audiobooks. There is a huge difference between reading and listening to a book. There are pros and cons to each. Narrators can make a difference in an audiobook and that saddens me. I go a little nuts when the age or sex of the narrator doesn’t fit the main character telling the story. On the other hand, style and punctuation may go unnoticed in an audiobook. For example, the book Blood Red Road by Moira Young purposely has poor spelling and no quotation marks around dialogue. I’ve read many reviews where readers were initially put off by this unconventional writing. I, on the other hand, had no idea of this writing style and loved every minute of listening to it.
There are some lessons I’ve learned from listening a book rather than reading the print. As a reader, I think I sometimes skip over or ignore things that I notice while listening.
1. Repetition: A certain amount of repetition can work for a character. It can emphasize the individuality and syntax. In the book Legend by Marie Lu, the main character says that a person or situation is “cracked.” I enjoyed hearing this adjective used by a teen. Repetition can also be overdone and become annoying. In another book I’ve listened to recently, the female character uses the phrase “Oh my” a total of 60 times. Talk about something that could induce road rage during my commute.
2. Dialogue tags: We’ve been told as writers that we can use “said” more than other tags and a reader will skim over these. I might argue that advice after listening to audiobooks. I find myself cringing at the overuse of “said”. I’d rather hear a separate action or descriptive sentence near the dialogue one. Then I can imagine the conversation.
3. Pacing: A great audiobook presents a mixture of dialogue and action with scene pacing that matches the mood of the scene. If the dialogue goes on and on and on, I feel like yelling, “Quit talking and do something!” That goes double for lengthy, descriptive passages. Those are the ones I may skim while reading a print book. I’m trapped in the car with the audiobook and focusing on traffic, so there’s no fast-forwarding option.
Audiobooks have allowed me to fit a lot more reading into my daily schedule. Here I’ve only listed three lessons about writing. I’m sure you’ll find many more if you listen to books. It’s a good way for a writer to learn as well as be entertained. Do you listen to audiobooks?