Writing a story for audio recording

We’re delighted to welcome actor and voice artist, Holly Joyce, to the blog today with her advice on what makes a story work well for a professional audio recording. Holly is providing the first place prize in our new 1000-Word Story competition – an audio recording of the winning story.

Narrating any well written story is a treat for an actor. It gives us a rare opportunity to bring to life an endless range of characters and voices regardless of our age and appearance – from mythical beasts to modern mums, from historical heroes to horses and hippos!

There are various elements of a writer’s work that can make it more enjoyable to record, and easier for the actor to bring the story to life in a recording, while doing justice to the words written on the page. For example, reading flowing passages of descriptive text where the writer uses vibrant poetic language, creating strong and colourful imagery can be particularly rewarding. 

Possibly the most the important factor in creating a story that is ideal for audio recording is to make sure it is written with a clearly identifiable voice. 

Stories written in the first person are great! But even those written in the third person are a thrill to narrate if it’s clear whose point of view the story is being told from. If a story is well written then the main character’s unique traits, background, tastes, age, etc. will jump off the page and into the actor’s mouth without the need for exposition or explanation.

There is also great joy to be found in voicing the secondary characters in the story not just as the actor perceives them but as the protagonist perceives them, with their thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards the secondary character influencing how I might instinctively choose to play and voice them.

Amanda Saint’s short story, Six O Clock Watch, which I recorded at the start of Lockdown, is a great example of this. The narrative and the information within the story itself tell us all we need to know about the protagonist – she is an older woman with a feisty attitude who has clear opinions about the people in her life.  Her spoken memories reveal a lot about her past and how that’s shaped her. You can listen to this story here.

I’m really looking forward to recording the winning short story. Good luck! 

Many thanks Holly for this great advice.

Get all the info on the competition and see the photo prompt here.