Monday 5 December 2011

The Sound of My Own Voice

With Christmas on the horizon, I have decided to get another one of my stories 'out there'. This time it's my seasonal story, Evergreen. I've tried something new with this one, and have recorded it instead of posting the text here or on a writing site.

I struggled a bit with the reading. It felt very strange talking into a microphone, and I made the mistake of trying to do it all in one take. I found I could read for about four or five minutes before stumbling over a word or messing up something simple like turning a page. After a bit of trial and error, I found a way of stitching together separate 'takes', meaning I didn't have the pressure of having to get it right from beginning to end. Eventually I had four sections that I was happy with. I spliced them together, produced a couple of very simple slides to act as a rolling background for the story, and uploaded it to YouTube.

It got rejected - my 2000-word story took around fifteen and a half minutes to read, and YouTube has a maximum limit of 15 minutes for new members (I signed up specifically to upload the clip). So I then had to go through and re-edit, chopping off the introduction I'd done at the beginning and cutting down as many of the pauses as I could get away with. It's not worked perfectly, I thought I'd judged the pauses pretty well in the original version, so the edit sounds a little rushed in places. If I'd had longer to play around with this, I think I'd have edited the story down and done another reading, but I didn't have a lot of time to play with, and I wanted to get it uploaded while it was still relevant - i.e. in the build-up to Christmas.

For a first attempt, I don't think it's too bad. I've learned a lot, and if the story gets a good response, I'll certainly have another go with a different story. I'll try to get a better set of visuals to go with it, too.

I wrote Evergreen in December 2009, too late to submit anywhere in time for that Christmas. The following year I sent it to Linda Lewis's 'Catherine Howard' Winter Competition, and it picked up third place, yet remained unpublished. So I was planning to see if I could find a home for it in time for Christmas 2011. However, when I was putting together the stories for Somewhere to Start From back in May this year, I decided that I'd like to include it, thus limiting my chances of getting it published anywhere else.

Anyway, enough preamble - check the story out HERE.

Or, now that I've realised I can just embed it, listen to it here:

I'd love to know what people thought - did you enjoy it? Or should I keep my mouth shut in future?


Teresa Stenson said...

I think it worked really well. I actually just assumed you did it in one take, the fusing together isn't obvious, neither are the pauses you had to take out.

Great stuff. It's interesting to see what can be done as well, different ways of telling your stories. I have a writer friend who's been thinking about making short videos for her poems, short stories, novels, and writing tips (she's very prolific) so I'll have to point her this way.

Dan Purdue said...

Thanks, Teresa. I actually feel quite exposed, putting my first attempt at this kind of thing straight out there. It's like posting up a first draft of something. I keep thinking I should've tried a shorter story out first, I should've got some film clips (what of, I have no idea).

People have been nice about it so far, which is good. I realise a 15-minute reading of a story with nothing much to look at doesn't stand much chance of going 'viral', but I like - as you say - finding new ways of presenting my stuff, and this might be one way of reaching people who wouldn't pick up the book, but don't mind listening to a story.

Teresa Stenson said...

I can imagine you do feel exposed, I don't know if I'd have the confidence to do it because I have an electronic lisp (it only shows up when my voice is recorded) and my voice can be quite monotone.

Shorter stories would be good, too. I'm not sure I'd have listened to a 15 minute story if it wasn't by a writer I know I like, if I'm honest. That's sort of ridiculous because I spend so much longer than than that surfing around the web and looking at stuff that's of no use to me really.

Chloe said...

It's funny hearing your voice for the first time! You have a nice voice though.

There seems to be a blip around 12:40 on the track? Apart from that it didn't sound fragmented at all.

Have you come across Short story radio? Google them! You might be able to seel your stories to them if they take freelance stuff. I've done OK in a couple of their competitions in the past.

Dan Purdue said...

Thanks, Chloe. I had the start of a cold when I was reading, so my voice is a little more gravelly/squeaky than normal. But I don't think it affected it too badly.

I uploaded the file twice, and got a similar glitch both times, though in different places. I wonder if YouTube does some sort of compression on the files that might affect the sound? I couldn't work out what had happened, and it didn't seem bad enough to upload it yet again, so I've left it.

I've heard of Short Story Radio, and I think I looked at one of their competitions but didn't have anything suitable. I'll have another look - I've got a taste for this audio stuff now!

Patsy said...

I think it works very well - didn't sound at all rushed to me.

You've got a good voice for reading stories - clear and easy to listen to.

Dan Purdue said...

Thanks, Patsy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Helen Baggott said...

Sounds good to me - my voice sounds dreadful reading my words. Maybe it's the words that are dreadful?!

" by one" - perfectly pitched.

Dan Purdue said...

Hello Baggy, nice to meet you. Thanks for giving it a listen - I'm very pleased you liked it.

I don't think many people rate the sound of their own voice, really. Some lucky folks could read a shopping list and make it sound amazing, though.

Martine (iMake) said...

Hi Dan

I think it sounds great - you have a great voice and as the author, you read it better than anyone else. I liked the story so much that I am going to blog about it on The post will go live on 20 Dec I think so keep an eye out (I do my blogging at the weekend and schedule posts to pop up during the week).

Happy Christmas :-)


Dan Purdue said...

Hi Martine, great to hear from you again! Many thanks for listening to the story and I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed it.

I'll keep an eye on your blog (and that reminds me, I need to add it to my blog roll - I pop over there from time to time and you're always up to something interesting).

Have a great Christmas!