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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Does it make a difference?  It does and it doesn’t.  How’s that for a strong stand.  When the main character is female, the book is better read by and women and vice versa.  Here’s a very good example.  Alexander McCall Smith has a fantasitic series:  The No. 1 Ladies Detective Series.  The series is about “traditionally built” Precious Ramotswe who travels Botswana in her little white van solving mysteries.  To read all the names and syntax are difficult but to hear it is wonderful and educational. 

The reader is Lisette Lecat.  She’s one of the best.  She also reads other stories about Africa.  She really makes these stories pop.  She lowers her voice for male characters but they still have a soft edge which really fits many of the characters. Here are a few of those books:

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It’s interesting when you hear different readers read the same story.  It actually changes the characters and even the tone of the story.  The better reads actually make the story better.  Here’s an example.  Robert B. Parker

 parker200.jpg is considered the dean of American crime writers.  He has written scores of books around three different characters.  Spenser, Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall.  It’s interesting that Sunny Randall seems to be a female Jesse Stone and in the book Blue Screen they hook up. 

Anyway since he’s written so many books over the years, they get read by different people.  There are maybe five people who have read Spenser books from Burt Reynolds to Richard Massur and Joe Montagne.  They’re all good but Joe Montagne really gets identified with the characters and adds a tone of sarcasm that makes the character unique. 

Jesse Stone novels are read by Robert Forster and Scott Sowers.  Both excellent readers but very different.  Robert Forster has a flatter even style that adds a level of depression for Jesse. 

The best way to listen to series like this is to start early in the series and work forward.  As you learn the characters, you easily pick up all the references in later books.  It gets you into the story quickly.  The other thing that makes Parker’s style easy to listen to is that he doesn’t repeat information.  For example, a character goes through an event and then has to tell it to the cops.  He simply writes and then I told them the story.  Here are just a couple of the Parker books:

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The other thing that’s interesting about his writing is that you end up knowing more about what each character is wearing than any other books you’ll read.  It’s very fashionable crime.

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louis.jpg This is the third in the series.  One of the things you can learn from audio books is how to be a great reader.  Listening to how the best read is really insightful. 

Who makes the best readers?  So far it seems that it’s actors and singers.  Yes, singers are wonderful readers.  Here’s a book on tape that goes over the top.  It’s read by Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.  It’s a collection from the old west with Louis Lamour

I can’t give this one five pizzas, so I’m giving if five chuckwagons. chc.jpg

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Alexander Mcall Smith is a brilliant and proflific writer who has several great series that all are all better heard than read.  This series as about Scotland Street.  It’s about the residents of an apartment building in Edinburgh.  It first appeared as a serial in the Scotsman Newspaper.  Here are two books in the series.

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The narrator sounds a lot like Sean Connery.  His reading adds a lot to the tone and structure of the book and you understand all the local language and terms much better.  He give character to the characters.  Again it’s worth five pizzas.

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This is a start of a small series of posts about books that are better heard as audio books than read.  Let’s start out with a quick example. 

ireland.jpg  Irelandby Frank Delaney is about an Irish storyteller who wanders the countryside telling the tales and oral history of Ireland.  At each stop, he tells a fascinating and winding tale.  The story is read by the author who has a rich acting background and the perfect voice for the story teller.  It’s really like hearing those stories first  hand the way they were told.  Sitting there listening gives you something that you couldn’t get by reading.  This is especially true if you weren’t familiar with the dialects and the pronunciation which hurts the flow of the story.  This book is definitely 5 pizzas. rating.jpg

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200px-shakespeare.jpg  I’ve been reading lots of blogs in the last few months.  Some are very well written and easy to follow.  Others are simply writing nightmares.  The most difficult blogs to read will have single paragraph posts of anywhere from 300 to 1000 words.  You really, really have to want to read these posts to get through them. 

The way most people read any article is that they look at the first paragraph and then the last paragraph.  If they, want to know more they will go back and start reading from the top again.  This means that the essense of a post should be in the first and last paragraph.  They need to be clear and well written.

I also favor shorter posts with frequent breaks every four or five lines even if they violate basic style rules.  It’s just easier on the eye.  I also think the best style, tone and person for a post is to write the way you would speak directly to the reader.  This means using a mixture of first and second person. 

Try a quick experiment.  Go to the tag surfer or click on a category and look at the full posts.  Look at the ones you decide not to read because their style and format isn’t very inviting.  When you’re done.  Go and write a nice short three paragraph post on your experience. 

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