No, Rob, I’m not procrastinating. Just wanted to get this written before I forgot. Again. (Because I should be writing-I’ve got around 850 words to get down to meet the weekly goal Rob set for me.)

But what with work and exercise, as well as just all the daily stuff everyone does, I don’t always get the total words written during the week. And the same with reading, which brings me to audiobooks.

As with above, I don’t really have much time to devote to reading now.  I get about a half hour at lunch, and then any more time takes away from everything else.  But the good thing about my job is that, depending on the type of puzzles I’m working on, I can listen to audiobooks and therefore read even more.

Ok, so how this works–my day job is at Penny Press, where I’m a copyeditor. I mostly fact check, check grammar/spelling, and depending on the type of puzzle, solve them. Or fill them in from the solution and check answers and clues. If I’m working on a word seek book, I can’t listen to audiobooks–those require too much reading, and I can’t read and listen at the same time.

But if I’m working on Variety or crossword books, oh yeah. I can get through one, maybe two, books in a week. Mostly depends on the length of the book.  This is how I manage to get through a lot of the doorstop tomes like Name of the Wind, The Warded Man, and The Desert Spear, and other stuff that I find somewhat difficult to actually read like Casino Royale and Foundation.

Sometimes, though, it can be a chore to finish an audiobook.  Most times, that’s because of a not-so-great narrator. (The absolute, without-a-doubt, most fantastic audiobook I’ve listened to is Feed by Mira Grant. Must read/must listen.) Some narrators just don’t do a very good job of hitting the emotional points right. Or they just don’t sound like they fit the character.  Quite often, they sound like they’re reading. Not telling a story.

What I’ve noticed even more that can make me not like a book so much–I can hear the craft-storywise and technically. I can’t say if this is from being so steeped in it from my own writing, or the half listening thing I do while working puzzles, or what, but it’s not necessarily because of bad writing.  Yeah, it becomes more apparent with less than stellar writing, but I’ve noticed stuff in books that are very well written.

The two instances I remember most clearly are (story-wise) Mira Grant’s Deadline and (technically) Peter V Brett’s Warded Man and Desert Spear. They’re all fantastic books.

But with Deadline (and no, I’m not giving any spoilers), I was able to guess, not too far into the book, what the twist at the end would be.  Well, the twist at the very end.  This tells me one of a couple things–I’m better at picking up the clues while listening over reading, and I’ve gotten better at putting them together and figuring things out. This might also be from reading books on how to write mysteries and paying attention to how those stories are put together.

The other issue-the technical issue-is that I pick up on the writing itself. Quite a bit sticks out mostly because of the way people read. In this particular instance, what I notice a lot are dialogue tags. (Sorry about that, Rob. I mentioned it to him, and now he notices it, too.) Because a narrator will go from a character voice, or emotion, into straight narration for a dialogue tag (he said, she said, etc), they tend to really stick out. I notice this in every audiobook, and hear more the different permutations that people use, and the frequency.

Reading a book, I tend to skip over the dialogue tags, especially when it’s a back and forth between two people. So when I can’t skip them, holy crap do they stick out. And with Peter’s books, they really, really stuck out, because almost every single line of dialogue-looking through it’s not everyone but pretty close-has a tag.  Whether there are only two people or more.

One of the plus sides of audiobooks, I don’t have to try to figure out how to pronounce names and words with odd spellings, or that may not be completely phonetic.  Makes the book that much better.  That’s one reason I’m glad I was able to listen to Peter’s books and Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon.

Oh, noticing the little bits and all-I definitely do hear them better than read them.  I’ve read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files several times, and I definitely pick up some of the more subtle hints and clues when I listen to them.

Hmm…maybe it’s something to do with my brain being in puzzle solving mode when I listen. Maybe that’s why I’m getting better at figuring things out.

About Rachel

I'm a writer in progress, and in my day job I copyedit/solve puzzles.
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