by Robin Moore
One of the best ways to really nail your writing or poetry is to read it aloud. Your ear will pick up pacing, awkwardness, or an emotional delivery that will snare readers. An added benefit is reading aloud before small groups. How does an audience react?
Redwood Writers offers two chances each month to share your work aloud with others. The RW Open Mic is held on the fourth Saturday each month. They also host the Redwood Salon and the Take the Mic Readings during alternating months. Dates for the Salon and Take the Mic may vary, so check the RW website, and look under “events” for the exact event dates, times, locations and sign-up directions. www.redwoodwriters.org
There are several win-win reasons to share your work aloud. You may be puzzling over part of your work. Is it compelling? Does it hold attention? Reading aloud may help you put the polish on your piece. Do you have a new book or article? Reading it aloud may help you with sales. Someone in the audience may know just the right person who’ll be thrilled to buy your book.
Reading aloud before these groups may help you overcome your jitters. All three of these events offer friendly audiences. They welcome you and your work. No one will jeer—if anything they’ll give you a verbal pat on the back when there is a break.
Do you just feel like listening? An added advantage for the audience is hearing the work of others. Then we are all exposed to the subtleties and nuances our fellow poets and writers employ. In other words, we may inspire each other.
However, the audience appreciates sticking to time limits. Most of the RW reading events incorporate a five-minute limit—however it is perfectly acceptable to read for less time. A 500 word piece easily presents within the time allotted. For poets a few shorter poems are a good amount. Perhaps you only want to share a single poem that day.
Hints for reading aloud:
- Practice reading your work aloud at home and time yourself.
- Pace your readings–make your delivery not too fast, nor too slow.
- Ask a friend to check your voice inflection. For example: do your sentences trail off or oddly rise with every fifth or sixth word?
- Even if you have a new book, read from pages you’ve printed out. Use large size font, double spaced and numbered so you won’t lose track of your pages.
- What if you fumble a few words? Don’t be embarrassed. We all stumble from time to time. Simply say excuse me and go back to the beginning of that sentence to start again.
A few more hints:
- Avoid long introductions that eat into your time allowed.
- Don’t read graphic sex scenes in public sessions.
- Look up at your audience from time to time and smile.
Relax, don’t worry. We will love your work. And bring a friend!