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Audiobooks Are A Must (2 Viewers)

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TheMightyAz

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I find it difficult to read text on forums or in books. Even with reading glasses, my eyes ache and I feel tired after half and hour. I've always had this problem. I once looked it up and what I appear to suffer from is 'regression'. I'll read along a line, lose my place and have to flick back a word or two to familiarise myself with the context. I often wonder if this is one of the reasons I write the way I do. Maybe ... who knows.

Then I discovered audiobooks. I can't afford to buy them so listen to what's available on Youtube. If the person reading it out has a good rhythm to their voice, I'll spend hours just listening to sections of the novel. I'm not interested in the story most of the time, I'm interested in the musicality of the words. Notice a theme yet?

What audio books do, as far as learning to write is concerned, is force you to think more deeply about the structure. You have to consider why a word was chosen, why the sentence was structured that way, even where the punctuation is and so on. All on the fly, as you listen. When I'm doing this I visualise the words on the page and never pause. If I lose my train of thought, I'll pick it up again in another section. Then, when I read my own work out loud (A MUST), I'll adopt the rhythm of the recent audiobook reader. It immediately shows me where I'm going wrong or what I've got bang on.

When I was on writing classes, I'd often ask the tutor to read my piece out. I'd do that to see if I'd punctuated it correctly and to 'feel' my piece afresh through someone else's voice. Audiobooks allow me to revisit that process and think more quickly. Those awkward sentences, that uninteresting word, that banal paragraph, that stilted style, all become apparent, and whilst you may not fully understand why, you know 'something is wrong here'.

I highly recommend this to beginners and intermediates. Give it a go but really, really, really LISTEN. It's also handy to pick a piece in line with the genre you're currently working on, or to pick a piece with something akin to the style you're aiming for.

Stick one on and listen to the music.
 

Foxee

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I have been very spoiled by my local library network. The audiobook collection has been pretty good and borrowing them for free is the price I like to pay. The collection is limited, unfortunately, and I have a harder time finding books I want to listen to but at the same time I've listened to a few that were gambles and some of them turned out well.

I finally broke down and got Audible which feels expensive after the library though it's cheaper if you also have KindleUnlimited.

Audiobooks are really great when I'm doing something like driving or washing dishes. The only bad thing is that I am likely to spend time on entertaining myself rather than thinking about my own stories. Ah well...
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
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Audio books are great for the car commute, especially if you have Car Play/Android Auto, but if I'm at home, I prefer the written word.
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
As someone with a neurodivergent brain, I have an extremely hard time paying attention to audio books. They are too passive for my overfast brain. I need the sensory connectivity of the touch of the pages, the smell of the paper and ink, and the visual confluence of the words themselves.

I can proceed at my own rate which is significantly quicker than the normal listening/reading rate. Auditory input is requisite, but in the form of music, not something I actively need to pay attention to.

Just like I cannot talk and drive at the same time. With music, I can stream focus, but active listening triggers my imagination, and I can get lost.

Audio books have been a boon for millions of people, but they are not a good fit for everyone.

- D.
 

Taylor

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I have been very spoiled by my local library network. The audiobook collection has been pretty good and borrowing them for free is the price I like to pay. The collection is limited, unfortunately, and I have a harder time finding books I want to listen to but at the same time I've listened to a few that were gambles and some of them turned out well.

I finally broke down and got Audible which feels expensive after the library though it's cheaper if you also have KindleUnlimited.

Audiobooks are really great when I'm doing something like driving or washing dishes. The only bad thing is that I am likely to spend time on entertaining myself rather than thinking about my own stories. Ah well...
I have been listening to library books for free with Libby, but like you, found it limiting. I also broke down and got audible for the same reason. But now have discovered it's a bargain because they give you credits all the time so there is quite a bit of free listening. Also, I have been focusing on Indie writers lately who aren't available at the library. I have been thrilled to find how many amazing indie writers there are out there. And many who write series so it's a panacea for many long hours of enjoyment. Especially, once you get into a certain character.

However, for me, I listen to books for the same reason I read them. Entertainment. My husband, who was a university English teacher in his early career, told me that it's not possible to read a book for story and editing at the same time. That means, if you are focusing on sentence structure you cannot garner the story or theme simultaneously. So, if I wanted to read a story purely to learn more about writing, I would have to read it first and then read it a second time and force myself to only think about mechanics. But it would be unnatural to me. I wonder though if picking up a style or good writing technique, can occur subconsciously. Do you really have to work at it that hard?
 
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Darkkin

WF Veterans
The thing about books is that, when I read I hyperfocus and fall all the way into the book. I cannot listen halfway. I do that with TV and music, and only then with series and songs I really know well.

e.g. While sorting and alphabetising cookbooks at work a number of years ago, one of my colleagues decided they wanted to play an audio book on the store's speakers. The book was The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I plopped down on the floor next to my stack of cookbooks and just proceeded to listen in an almost trance like state. I did not even realise what I was doing.

When I did not move after about five minutes, our manager came over and asked if I was all right. Physically I was fine, but mentally I was enormously distracted by a very interesting book. I could not filter out the content like I can with music and still do my work properly with the books. I mentioned this to my manager and it has not been an issues since.

I know audio books have brought convenience and accessibility to millions who don't have time to read or struggle with processing the print medium, and for that I can truly appreciate them, but for those with sensory/focus/processing issues they can be a stumbling block.

I can actively listen, but do not expect multitasking (drive/work) when there is such a potent distraction playing in my ear. It is impossible to tune out because I might miss something.
 
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TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
As someone with a neurodivergent brain, I have an extremely hard time paying attention to audio books. They are too passive for my overfast brain. I need the sensory connectivity of the touch of the pages, the smell of the paper and ink, and the visual confluence of the words themselves.

I can proceed at my own rate which is significantly quicker than the normal listening/reading rate. Auditory input is requisite, but in the form of music, not something I actively need to pay attention to.

Just like I cannot talk and drive at the same time. With music, I can stream focus, but active listening triggers my imagination, and I can get lost.

Audio books have been a boon for millions of people, but they are not a good fit for everyone.

- D.
Oh, I couldn't disagree more. I find audiobooks less passive than almost any other medium out there, but then again, I'm listening to every word, every sentence, every paragraph, critiquing, evaluating, considering, punctuating ...

Unlike the written word, you don't get the opportunity to reread a line (unless you rewind) so it teaches you to take it in quickly and analyse it quickly.

I'm not talking about listening to them for entertainment, I'm talking about listening to them educationally.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
I have been listening to library books for free with Libby, but like you, found it limiting. I also broke down and got audible for the same reason. But now have discovered it's a bargain because they give you credits all the time so there is quite a bit of free listening. Also, I have been focusing on Indie writers lately who aren't available at the library. I have been thrilled to find how many amazing indie writers there are out there. And many who write series so it's a panacea for many long hours of enjoyment. Especially, once you get into a certain character.

However, for me, I listen to books for the same reason I read them. Entertainment. My husband, who was a university English teacher in his early career, told me that it's not possible to read a book for story and editing at the same time. That means, if you are focusing on sentence structure you cannot garner the story or theme simultaneously. So, if I wanted to read a story purely to learn more about writing, I would have to read it first and then read it a second time and force myself to only think about mechanics. But it would be unnatural to me. I wonder though if picking up a style or good writing technique, can occur subconsciously. Do you really have to work at it that hard?
I don't 'have' to, I choose to. I have a definite vision for my style and anything I can do to fast track me there, I will embrace. When I was learning to play the piano, my teacher told me I was the fastest learner he'd ever had, and he'd been doing it for years. What he didn't know about me is my persistence. I would sit there for hours going over and over one aspect of what he'd taught me until it felt a part of me, then I'd move on to another. After a week of doing that, when I played it at the lessons, I could do it with heart because the mechanics took care of themselves. Muscle memory works in writing too
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Some people have different concentration levels for reading, listening, and doing ( this is the learning style and woman are more auditory, while men are more visual, and for kinesthetic it can vary). It is also a different way we learn. If you could be more specific about what you gain from audiobooks, it would help. Perhaps I think if your looking for rhythm and how a writer articulates words then I understand. You looking for good prose. But what can a writer learn from listening to audiobooks besides what you mentioned? That the writers are worth reading or what else?
 
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TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Some people have different concentration levels for reading, listening, and doing. It is also a different way we learn. If you could be more specific about what you gain from audiobooks, it would help. Perhaps I think if your looking for rhythm and how a writer articulates words then I understand. You looking for good prose. But what can a writer learn from listening to audiobooks besides what you mentioned? That they are worth reading or what else?
Whether they're worth reading isn't even considered. I don't care about the story or whether it's worth reading. All I care about is the style, rhythm, word choice etc. I'll often start the story at random points to make sure I don't get distracted by the story. The thing about audiobooks is you don't have much time to think. You have to concentrate really hard on the presentation if you are to learn anything from it. It's a great habit to have, especially when you're critiquing or writing.
 

Foxee

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Whether they're worth reading isn't even considered. I don't care about the story or whether it's worth reading. All I care about is the style, rhythm, word choice etc. I'll often start the story at random points to make sure I don't get distracted by the story.
To me, that's an unusual way to tackle a book and says a lot about your point of view as you're absorbing info about the craft of writing. I'm struggling to understand is how do you assess whether style, rhythm, and word choice are working if you're divorcing the structure from the meaning that the words are meant to convey?

I'm not criticizing this it's just an alien concept.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
About style, rthymn, and word choice how do you know who to read? How do you critically think and analyze rhythm, style, and word choice. Do you think imitation is a good way to practice? Is that what you mean to say?
 

TheMightyAz

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To me, that's an unusual way to tackle a book and says a lot about your point of view as you're absorbing info about the craft of writing. I'm struggling to understand is how do you assess whether style, rhythm, and word choice are working if you're divorcing the structure from the meaning that the words are meant to convey?

I'm not criticizing this it's just an alien concept.
I know you're not criticising! :) It's a perfectly reasonable question. Words are wonderful things. Sentences are a thing of beauty. Paragraphs are meticulously painted trees in a bigger picture of equally meticulously painted things. Each makes up the picture. Remove the picture and you see the brush strokes each writer used to paint that tree. Once you've learned that technique, that style, you paint your own picture, adding in strokes of your own.

I'll hear a word and smile, thinking of how wonderfully it fitted. I'll listen to a sentence and marvel at the clarity and flow of the prose. I'll consider the whole paragraph and see what it was those two things expressed. Subliminally and by effort, I learn.
 

TheMightyAz

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Mentor
About style, rthymn, and word choice how do you know who to read? How do you critically think and analyze rhythm, style, and word choice. Do you think imitation is a good way to practice? Is that what you mean to say?
No, not imitation, although imitation is also a legitimate and wonderful way of learning. Stephen King imitated lots of his favourite writers in his earlier work, but eventually it all began to look and sound like Stephen King. There are elements of writing that transcend individual writers. You listen to one great writer and those things will apply to another, regardless of how different the style is. You start spotting them when you listen closely. It's those things you make your own.
 

Foxee

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I'll hear a word and smile, thinking of how wonderfully it fitted.
This is what I'm not sure I understand. In the way I do things it's...more holistic? Maybe? Like, I can't know if a sentence fits without knowing how it serves the story. Does it reveal how the POV character feels, for instance? And so when you're mentioning disregarding the story so that you can focus on the prettiness(?) of the sentences it's puzzling.

I can imagine doing sentence-exercises where I just rewrite the sentences different ways but listening to a whole audiobook and disregarding the story...I don't think i have the ability. I don't hear the words as units of written language in a story (unless I stop and just put my editing hat on...different way of using the brain), I see the story-images happening in my head. If the sentence is written awkwardly it'll throw a weird image into my head and throw me out of the story. So I guess for me the prose is basically a projector for my brain.
 

TheMightyAz

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This is what I'm not sure I understand. In the way I do things it's...more holistic? Maybe? Like, I can't know if a sentence fits without knowing how it serves the story. Does it reveal how the POV character feels, for instance? And so when you're mentioning disregarding the story so that you can focus on the prettiness(?) of the sentences it's puzzling.

I can imagine doing sentence-exercises where I just rewrite the sentences different ways but listening to a whole audiobook and disregarding the story...I don't think i have the ability. I don't hear the words as units of written language in a story (unless I stop and just put my editing hat on...different way of using the brain), I see the story-images happening in my head. If the sentence is written awkwardly it'll throw a weird image into my head and throw me out of the story. So I guess for me the prose is basically a projector for my brain.
It doesn't matter about context. What matters is the structure, rhythm, musicality. When approaching writing, I have an 'in' and an 'out' for paragraphs and scenes. What happens in between happens spontaneously, but how I express that spontaneity is 'the process'.

For instance, this is from my latest flash fiction. Here I'm just playing with words and images. I enjoy this ONE paragraph in isolation.

The newborn, Filli Dingler bobbled on the ceiling. Her cherry buttocks kissed off the polystyrene tiles with each wiggle, giggle and gummy grin. Henry’s wife wasn’t grinning, her knees up and still in the launch position. A nurse fanned a waxy midwife with a copy of National Geographic, while two others wrestled the ladder.

I could write this over and over and never get bored with doing that. I approach every paragraph in the same way. What lies underneath is mechanical and clinical but as a whole, it's not. It doesn't matter you don't know the context. You can still analyse it and see what I've done.

This isn't up for critique by the way. It's an example. :)
 

Foxee

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It doesn't matter about context.
This is where we'll just remain very, very different animals.
I could write this over and over and never get bored with doing that. I approach every paragraph in the same way. What lies underneath is mechanical and clinical but as a whole, it's not. It doesn't matter you don't know the context. You can still analyse it and see what I've done.
I can analyze the language, the sentences, whether it creates an image. I'm always going to really care about context, though.

Your way of putting things together might explain why sometimes the images that you build come into my head as cartoons or picture-book illustrations.
This isn't up for critique by the way. It's an example. :)
Never crossed my mind that it was. I'm far too lazy to critique unasked.
 

TheMightyAz

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This is where we'll just remain very, very different animals.

I can analyze the language, the sentences, whether it creates an image. I'm always going to really care about context, though.

Your way of putting things together might explain why sometimes the images that you build come into my head as cartoons or picture-book illustrations.

Never crossed my mind that it was. I'm far too lazy to critique unasked.
I just can't leave it there! Have you ever played a musical instrument? You'll strum for hours and hours trying to make the C chord sound right. You won't think 'but I need the context. What song is this going to be in?' Your objective is to perfect the chord. That's all I'm doing. I'm perfecting a chord. I'm listening to how other writers play that chord.
 

Foxee

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Yep, I played the violin for years. And here's the kicker...I'm TERRIBLE at music theory. Sure, learning the craft is kinda the whole point of the sheet music and the endless practicing. But when I had the chance to move on from endlessly practicing phrases of other people's music I was much happier playing by instinct and making up compositions of my own. (which I didn't know how to write down because....terrible at music theory)

I'm not trying to get you to be like me. We're vastly different in viewpoint and what we're working on improving at the moment. I am not attracted to doing things as you're describing, just attempting to understand it. And for now I understand enough.
 
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