Writing for the ear

Monday, I had an experience that was both new, and in a way, not.

Penguin sold the audio rights to What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. When 168 Hours was made into an audio book, the audio company hired a professional voice person to read it. This time they hired…me. I went to the studio with two printed out copies of my missive — possibly the only two printed copies in existence. It was a sweltering day in Philadelphia. The studio air conditioning had, alas, broken. So if you purchase the audio book, and think it sounds a bit warm and summery slow…that’s why.

Anyway, I’d been told this could take most of the day, but the book is short and most critically, I realized that there’s an advantage to having books written and read by the same person. I knew those words well. They’re friends. I’ve spent a lot of time with them. Also, when I write, I tend to construct my phrases for reading aloud. Years ago, an editor told me that when people read things silently, they’re still hearing the words in their heads. Good writing cadence is good speaking cadence. It’s a certain mix of varied sentence length, repeated sentence structure, and ending sentences with solid words. It’s hard to explain. But you know it when you see it. Or hear it as the case may be.

The point is, I’ve read all my books aloud. This was just the first time I did so with a microphone in my face and earphones on my ears. When we finished early — and I could leave that sauna of a studio — I was very glad that I’d tried to write as much for the ear as the eye.

What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever gotten?

4 thoughts on “Writing for the ear

  1. Yay! I liked the eBook a lot (will eventually write about it on my blog). And yes, I totally hear the words in my head as I read. What great writing advice!

    1. @Cara- will do as soon as it’s available! Should be relatively soon, as they wanted to capitalize on some current and forthcoming publicity…

  2. I once read that Ernest Hemmingway ended his day’s writing by leaving a sentence incomplete. The next day, he would revisit his story with the confidence of knowing what came next and in doing so he avoided staring at a blank page. I write fiction for pleasure and my work requires extensive scientific writing. I’ve found this tip helpful for both.
    On a separate note, I’m an avid audiobook consumer and I look forward to hearing you bring your words to life!

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