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Sunday, April 17, 2016


Listen Up: Why Writers Should Listen to Audio Books

At any given moment, glance across the family room and you’ll see it.  A stack of audio books beneath the television.  I listen to novels and nonfiction, adult books and children’s books.  So far this year I’ve already listened to nine or ten books of various kinds. 

As a writer, here are five ways that your work can benefit from listening to audio books. 

Writers need to read. That’s kind of a no brainer but if you are anything like me there are days where it is all you can do to fit in your writing.  Spare time is definitely a commodity but audio books let you “read” when you can’t focus on a print book.  I read when I row, when I wash dishes and when I eat lunch.  If I’ve got a road trip to make, I may manage an entire book.  Listening to audiobooks helps me experience more literature than I would otherwise have time to take in.

Writers need to read it all. I know. I know. I’m one of the first people to admit that if a book doesn’t pull me in, I start skipping chunks of text as I look for that point in the story where things get moving again. Audiobooks don’t let me do this.  Because of this, I get the full experience where I wouldn’t in a print book.  With the full experience, I can judge . . .

Pacing pros and cons. To learn about story pacing, you need to read the whole thing.  Yep.  Even those buckets of narrative and that long stretch of backstory. Not everything I experience is going to work for me but hearing the whole thing gives me a better feel for how other authors pace their work and how they use language to speed things up and also to slow them down.

Voice.  Every writer needs to develop their unique voice.  While you don't want to copy the voice of another writer it is a great experience to hear how and why that author sounds like one of a kind.  Recently I've had an earful of New York grit and Ozark twang.  I got to hear how word choice and how it was all strung together made each of these authors truly unique.   

The Beauty of the Language. If you write poetry or picture books, you spend a certain amount of time considering the sound of the words that you chose.  The reality is that the rest of us also benefit when we consider the sounds of language. The words that we use can be musical but to hear the notes you need to actually here the language. Audiobooks allow you to do this.

Still not sold?  Think of it as story time for grownups.  You remember story time at the library and how much you loved it.  Give yourself a similar experience by taking advantage of the many audiobooks now available.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion.


Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins on June 6, 2016.

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Blogger Sioux said...

Sue--If you haven't read Mitch Albom's "The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto" you might want to get the audio book of it. I just finished it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Karen Cioffi-Ventrice said...

I have to admit I don't read as many books as I should. I'd use the time excuse, but that's not really an excuse. Audio books may be the answer. Thanks for sharing.

9:03 AM  

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