Audiobook Narrators Are Deep Readers

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, October 31, 2019

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While celebrities and authors often receive a lot of publicity related to audiobook narration, professional narrators bring deep skills to performing most of the quality audiobooks available to us. Often trained (and regularly working) as actors in other venues as well as behind the audiobook recording mic, they also tend to be inveterate, curious, and serious readers. That translates into quality performance.


Recently narrator (and stage actor and teacher) Rebecca Gibel presented a tour of how she approaches the preparation work before she starts recording. Those in the room at the New England Library Association's annual conference might have heard the imaginary round of applause from every AP English teacher who ever lived. Instead of coming to the studio cold, of course, Becky has already read what she's about to record. But wait, there's more!

She takes notes about information the author reveals later in the book that needs to be included in her performance at the outset. For example, it may not be explicitly revealed to us until chapter two that the main character has a hoarse voice. Yet, if that same character has already spoken in the first chapter, without any sign of hoarseness, listeners will be pulled out of the book quickly.

There's also the need to account for which character is speaking in a rapid-fire dialog. The image above shows how Becky marks up her book by color coding such dialogs so she can switch back and forth between characters seamlessly when recording. And that "mumble" on the side? When how a character speaks a line isn't revealed until the attributive at the end of the line, the narrator needs to remember what's coming in the way of the author defining the quality of the line already spoken.

What does this have to do with modeling silent reading generally? Leisure reading, of course, can be enjoyed silently whether or not we're prepared for character tone revelations after we've already scanned the line. Or we may need to flip back and re-read to assure ourselves we "heard" the previous information revealed correctly in our heads for the future passages to make sense and provide smooth sailing. For academic reading, on the other hand, we need to circle back, when reading silently, applying new information gathered to previous information that needs to be refined. And that's how a professional audiobook  narrator works: all that circling back has been undertaken by them and listening readers garner the riches of hearing the book in a voice (or voices) that already understand the text through practiced familiarity with it.

Thank you, Becky, for sharing your expertise--and the marked up text above.   



Category : Literacy

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