Guest Post: Brinda Berry – What Writers Can Learn From Audiobooks

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.


What Writers Can Learn From Audiobooks

“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?

BIO: Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality. Her YA sci-fi/fantasy books, The Waiting Booth and Whisper of Memory, are available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

12 thoughts on “Guest Post: Brinda Berry – What Writers Can Learn From Audiobooks

  1. A very informative post. I have a similar commute as Brinda, and I suppose I could fill the time with audiobooks. I just never really considered it. Thanks for something to think about!

    • You should try it! I download one a month for $14.95 from and I have to supplement by checking out digital titles from my local library. I listen to 3-4 books a month unless it’s by an author like Stephen King. Those tend to last longer.

  2. Excellent points, Brinda! I listen to audiobooks often. They are helpful for pinpointing things I either want to do or want to avoid like that last pothole in my own writing. With some I find myself making an extra block or two just to find out what happens next. Others have me cringing after the first line. Sometimes it’s the writing, but most often the narrator makes the difference which is terrifying.

    • Thanks for taking the time for this post! I’m happy to have you here. And thanks! I look forward to any feedback you may give.

      How was Boneshaker? I’ve been meaning to pick it up.

  3. Absoultely love this post. I am a big fan of the podcast novel which lead me into buying audiobooks. I have a day job that gives me plenty of time to listen to whatever I wish so it’s pocasts and once my pc is fixed I will be buying more audiobooks 🙂

I know you have thoughts, and I want to hear them...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s