Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ride The Reading Railroad

Time to take a deep breath.  The cover has done its job, with prospective readers wanting more than a picture on a convention floor table.  The book's not out yet, but the interest is building.  You have a reading scheduled, and when you walk in, all eyes are on you.  Game time, and you're up at bat.  Boy, are the bases loaded.  If your writing is off, strike one.  Can't articulate?  Strike two.  The selection you pick is less than interesting?  Strike three.  You're out.

As useful as having a chapter out on your website is, nothing can compare to a reading.  Here, the writer has a chance to show scenes with all the passion of both the characters and their creator.  What might pass for simple dialogue exchanges will blossom into a heartfelt passage that will have your audience leaning forward.  Screw it up and more than your ego will get bruised.

So, how do you prepare?  The first step is deciding if you are even up to the task.  If you have difficulty at public speaking.  If you are shy, have problems articulating, or otherwise cannot present yourself with little more than a flat monotone, the best you might do for yourself is to not do a reading at all (or have someone else do it for you).

Step two involves some degree of foresight.  You need to ensure that your sentence structure flows well enough to be read aloud.  A good writer would do this anyway, but if you want to do readings, reciting out loud is essential.  Nothing brings out poorly formed sentences than the human voice.

Your next choice is a dicey one - what to read.  You want to select a scene that showcases both your writing and your work.  You want to capture their interest, but not give them spoilers.  Finally, and this is important if you've already a sample chapter out on the web, you want to give them something fresh and new that they haven't already read for themselves.  Oh, and you need to be mindful of how much time you will have for your read.  It can be fifteen minutes, or thirty.  All depends on how many other authors are scheduled for the same time period other than yourself.

Ahead of the reading comes advertising.  I'm assuming a convention, here.  Let people know you've a reading coming up.  Don't assume they've read or otherwise remembered the schedule.  Don't be a pest about it, but when interest in your writing is expressed, give it a mention.

Now comes the reading.  Make sure you've a glass of water on hand.  As you read, breathe life into your characters as only you know how to do.  Yes, this is the kind of acting one sees in audio books, and yes it will work well for you as long as you don't ham it up.  For this moment in time, you are more than a writer.  You are a story teller around an evening's fire.  Make your work shine.


Tracks - Available March 3rd


Liz Fountain said...

I love reading my work - in workshops to develop it, and after it's done, to connect with readers. You're right, there is nothing like hearing yourself speak the words on the page to realize awkward sentence structures, unnecessary words, etc. There's a reason why playwrights workshop their plays in the early stages - we've got to hear this stuff out loud.


Nikki Andrews said...


Nikki said...
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Nikki Andrews said...
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Nikki Andrews said...

Apologies for the deleted comments, KM. I was having a tech issue. I enjoyed and appreciated your post. Lots of good advice, to which I would only add "Practice, practice, practice!"