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Thanks Mark, this was a great analysis. I read a lot of books out loud to my family, and I do give each character a distinct voice so that everyone can tell who's talking, even when the dialogue tag is at the end of the sentence or sometimes on the next page entirely, depending on the formatting. Sometimes writers describe voices in specific detail, which can make it hard to replicate. What does a voice "like a muddy creek" sound like exactly?

Another thought is that it's easy to conceal the identity of a character when they appear dramatically or mysteriously when reading, since you just fill in a generic voice in your head, but out loud you have to say something, and if you've already read that character before, using their same voice can spoil the surprise entirely.

As far as writing to be read aloud, I think there are ways to do it without writing out a full audiobook script first. In my writing, I try to add dialogue tags to the beginning of paragraphs, especially in a group scene, or if a character has a long paragraph of dialogue that they need to deliver. If a character's voice is unique enough to stand without a tag, I'll skip it, but I also don't have extended scenes of nothing but two characters exchanging short sentences back and forth. Ultimately I think if a book is written for dramatic delivery, then it's a radio drama, not a book. Audiobooks should complement written books, and not provide a strict framework of any kind.

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Voice like a muddy creek is exactly why I think narration and acting are distinct art forms. There is a juxtaposition of images that you can do in narrative that just cannot be acted out. Voice like a muddy creek makes perfect sense to me in narrative. But you couldn't act it to save your life. It doesn't make literal sense. But it makes figurative sense.

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This is an amazing ready, and read part out loud. I am not well versed in styles but this is something I wrestle with. I do a lot of reading in my podcast and I am always having difficulty to find a good pace, that sounds more fluid. I read in both Spanish and in English and while Spanish is easier for me, I still face those issues whe the writing is either too academic or when a dialogue doesn't sound like some I would have said.

I guess another thing to consider is (within a language) where is it coming from. My Spanish (from Puerto Rico) doesn't sound the same as Spanish from anywhere else. A while ago I was trying to reach something from a Cuban writer and I found it difficult to find a good reading flow.

Thank you for sharing. This has inspired me to ask myself those same question and see if I can find balance. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts but is not the same (unless it is a reading podcast, which I try ro learn from often), but not many audio books.

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Thanks for the comment, Juan. There is a similar problem in English where American, British, and Australian English all sound distinctly different, and the differences go well beyond pronunciation to different vocabulary and rhythm. And that is not to mention the many regional accents in these places. Deciding what to do when voice acting or narrating a book with an international cast raises a whole new set of problems.

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This is fascinating to think about! I read a short interview with well known audio book narrator Julia Whelan recently, where she talks about how she prepares to record. I listen to a lot of audio books, and do prefer narration. That said, I like vivid narration, if that makes sense. As opposed to flat, monotone type reading. And I do listen to a lot of modern fiction that I would consider narrated rather than acted. I've never thought much about writing to be read aloud, except for dialog tags. My dad is blind, so listens to a LOT of audio books, and it drives him crazy when there are too many dialog tags. Anyway, really enjoyed this exercise!

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I'm not a huge audiobook fan, but I'm starting to listen to more of them to get more book time in. I've also been thinking, like you, about how I might make an audio version of my book and what that might sound like. I prefer the more narrative style, though I don't mind a little variation in voice between characters if it's not too extreme.

I probably wouldn't like a change to the text, as I often bookmark or clip passages I like as I listen so I can find them in the text. I want what I hear to be accurate and authentic.

I've noticed as I write that there's a definite difference between the voice in my head as I read and the audible voice of narration when the text is read aloud. I'm not a fluid spoken reader, so the way I've tried to reconcile this as I write is to play my drafts through the "read aloud" tool available in Word and edit accordingly. It's very robotic and basic, so it can reveal the clunkier and more awkward phrases. I can't claim it has made my text audiobook ready, but at the very least, I do feel it has helped me catch some discordant notes. For me, this hybrid approach is the best of both worlds, as I can't imagine writing specifically for audio (it's kind of an afterthought) but using audio to help edit might help make the finished product both a better reading and listening experience.

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I love the read aloud function in Word. It is my favorite proofing tool and you are right that is sometimes catches awkward phrasing. In some ways, though, it is almost too accomplished, because it manages to read fluently passages that I struggle with when I read them aloud.

Part of that may be that when I read I am anticipating what comes next and sometimes I anticipate wrong and stumble or say the wrong thing or inflect the wrong way. The machine, I am sure, has mastered the art of being a full sentence ahead of where it is reading and thus never makes mistakes of this kind.

I very much take your point about keeping the text the same. I'm inclined to that view myself. Maybe reading aloud to myself during the edit process will help me find ways to make the same text work both in print and when read aloud.

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