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Knowing How a Story Ends Before You Get There

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 28, 2010

Comments (9)

Woman holding a cat and reading a bookAs Scott Brick says, with regard to audiobook narration, you need to keep the end of the story in mind even at the beginning.

By starting your work with the end in sight, you are able to lead your listeners through the peaks and valleys of a well-woven tale and truly function as the omniscient narrator you are meant to be.

Although reading the book before recording is the most obvious way to gain pertinent information, how else can you acquire it if unable to dedicate sufficient time to read the book in full or conduct an in depth analysis?

Find out how you can do this when in a pinch via today's VOX Daily.

English Teachers, I Apologize in Advance...

Call me old-fashioned but I prefer reading the Real McCoy as opposed to glossing over what some might call the "Coles Notes" version.

Until inspired to write this article, I had never been to sites that provided summaries of books with detailed character sketches, considering them to be sources of information that ought to be gleaned by actually reading a book.

Something changed though and now I see these kinds of sites and materials in a different, more pleasant light.

Why the Change of Heart?

I'm sharing these tools to help you succeed in your quest to narrate to the best of your ability, enabling you to know more while saying less. Even if you have read the book, you might find these resources to be helpful when researching as they can provide additional context for your read and analysis to aid in developing character voices.

Many free online resources break down books in terms of plot, characters, and more. Among the following are even resources that go chapter by chapter if you can believe it!

When time is of the essence or you want to deepen your understanding of the book, its characters and your role as narrator, the following are great resources to discover and invest some of your time in:

7 Resources That Will Get You on the Fast Track

SparkNotes
CliffsNotes
Shmoop
JiffyNotes
GradeSaver
BookRags
WikiSummaries

Highlights

Here are three sites that really struck a chord with me and I'd like to share more about them with you.

JiffyNotes

One of the reasons why I really like JiffyNotes is because of the chapter summaries they provide. This can come in handy if you want to get some context on a chapter by chapter basis. Other features of JiffyNotes include access to a book's Historical Context, Main Characters, be presented with Points to Ponder, a Did You Know section, and of course the Plot Summary. JiffyNotes focuses on literary analysis.

SparkNotes

What appealed to me about SparkNotes was that you could learn so much for so little. Context, Summary, Characters and Summary and Analysis are available for free by navigating through the section devoted to each book. You can also purchase to download the SparkNote as a PDF or an eBook for under $5. This comes in handy when you're in a bind and need to take the material with you in places where you are not able to connect to the Internet. You could even print it off and read it on a plane or anywhere else.

CliffsNotes

Did you know that CliffsNotes offers free audio summaries of some of the books in podcast form? In addition, you can also download iPhone and iPod apps for certain books to take them with you on the go. When checking to see what the cost was, most were available for about $1. If you look hard enough, you may find that other resources such as CliffsNotes offer mobile apps for a variety of applications and eReaders such as the Kindle.

What Do You Do To Supplement Your Research?

Do you already seek out guidance from sources such as those named above to help you in your research?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Oleg Prikhodko

Related Topics: audiobooks, books, characters, iPhone, narration, plot, resources, summaries


Comments


    Dearest Stephanie,

    It's rare that you write an article that both my rising 11th grade athletic son and I am excited to read. Through your writing, he just learned about some new sites that can help supplement his summer reading list for high school. Call it a "mom thing" from a former teacher turned VO actress, but I happen to love it when he reads the book, and gains insights from the web sites you mentioned. I think it deepens his understanding, in addition to helping him remember details from the book when he needs to write "official" reports a month or so from now when he returns to school after summer vacation. Your article today hit the mark with our family! Thank you!

    Fondly,
    Linda

    Posted by:

      For an audio book that I did on Egypt, I did a ton of research including educating myself on the Pharaoh's and the cities.

      Posted by:

        I read the book once through for the plot or sense, and then again, pencil in hand, taking notes on unfamiliar terms, pronunciation, etc. For fiction, research any character accents for authenticity, make visual note cues to keep similar characters distinctly voiced from one another. Takes about a week depending on the length and complexity of the text.

        Posted by:

          I would hope the first thing people would do would be research the correct pronunciation of the author's name. I listened to a Chuck Palahniuk audiobook where the reader said his name was "Chuck Paul-ah-knee-uck", which is kind of annoying when they say it at the start and end of every disc.

          Posted by:
          • Adam Buckley
          • July 29, 2010 2:21 PM

            Once I had to find a song sung by Rudy Vallee, so I could sing a bar or two within the context of the book. I Googled the song, and found a very old film of him performing it, from way back, when "talkies" were oh so novel.

            Posted by:

              Thank God for Google! Doing The Martian Chronicles, they kept talking about songs/performers I'd never heard of, and they'd have snatches of these songs in print. So I went to youtube and found performances of them, often by those same singers, and was able to at least approximate how they sounded. Not well, certainly, but that's another story. ;)

              Posted by:

                Hi Stephanie,

                Thank you for once again proving why my membership with Voices.com is worth every penny! As an aspiring audiobook narrator, I am eager to accumulate resources such as the ones you've provided in this article--a wealth of expertise and knowledge at my fingertips! Additionally, I have forwarded this article to my high school-graduate son who is pursuing a theater career--that's two generations you've influenced with one article!

                Thanks again Stephanie,

                Dan

                Posted by:

                  Research is all part of the process. On my first read through a book I keep a pen and paper handy to jot down character notes, unfamiliar names and words and general things I'd like to remember once I get in the booth. Then I will do everything from contacting the client/author to looking up everything for correct pronunciation. One of my last books had both Swiss French and Swiss German! I was fortunate to have an associate from the region who spoke both dialects! Talk about a winning combination!

                  Posted by:

                    Hi everyone!

                    Thank you for your comments and for sharing your thoughts :) I'm so glad that this particular posting was able to reach not only you as narrators but also your kids! Let me know if there is anything else in this vein that you'd like to see covered on VOX Daily. If you leave your suggestion as a comment on the post, I'll be able to receive your feedback here.

                    Best wishes,

                    Stephanie

                    Posted by:

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