How to Go About Crafting Cohesive Audiobook Scripts – The Urban Writers

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Avoiding Ambiguity: Techniques for Clear and Cohesive Audiobook Writing

by The Urban Writers

A good audiobook listening experience requires cohesive audiobook narrating, and to get that, you need clear audiobook writing. In this piece, we are going to go through some writing techniques for audiobooks and how to go about crafting cohesive audiobook scripts.

The Importance of Clear Audiobook Writing

You know, when you are listening to the radio, you are not really just listening to the radio. It's true for any audio medium, whether it's podcasts, music, or an audiobook. You are listening, but you aren't solely focused on it. You may have music playing through your headphones, but you're actually going for a run and watching your heart rate. You might have a podcast on in the background while you clean your room.
It's a little different from watching TV. If you're streaming a show, you need to have your sense of sight and hearing engaged and concentrate on what you are watching. But with a purely audio medium, we only need to have our ears switched on, so that frees up our other senses.

Not only that, but sometimes we all have the habit of leaving something on in the background, whether it's a podcast, some music, or the radio. It acts as some company while we engage in something else. It takes up some of our concentration, but we don't have to be completely zoned in on it. It's actually quite rare that somebody would just sit down purely to listen without scrolling through their phone, doing some housework, or chatting with someone else.

So, how does any of that relate to your audiobook and writing your script? Well, it's likely that they will use your audiobook in the same way that some use the radio or podcasts as a bit of background noise to keep them company. Don't let that deflate you. That's not to say your audiobook won't be enjoyed, but it will be engaged in a different way than a print or eBook. You have a listener rather than a reader, and that listener will have other things grabbing their attention. So, they are still engaged with your book but won't be taking in the information the same way as if they were reading, and they can be easily distracted or just altogether preoccupied.

For this reason, it's really important that the content of your audiobook is well-written. The listener needs to be able to clearly understand what the point of your book is. If it is fiction, your listener has to be able to follow the story; you don't want them to get halfway through and wonder which character is which and what they are trying to do. Because you can't see the words or pictures in an audiobook, the descriptions have to be of a high standard. You need the story and narrative to be clear so that your listener can follow them while engaged in other activities.

Clear Audiobook Writing

How to Avoid Ambiguity in Audiobook Writing

A good audiobook listening experience starts with good, clear audiobook writing. And to do this, you need a good script with cohesive writing that allows for cohesive audiobook narration. The narrator or voiceover artist can only read what you have given them, so the script needs to be of good quality to begin with; otherwise, you are fighting a losing battle, and your listener won't be able to follow the audiobook.

To avoid audio ambiguity that confuses your listener, you need to have a script that is well put together. The story needs to be cohesive and flow well, so let's look at how you can make a script that will allow your narrator to share your story and make it sound as good as it would read in a print book.

Crafting Cohesive Audiobook Scripts

The first thing to establish in an audiobook script is what happens in the script. No, this doesn't mean every single detail that you would have in the book, but rather the main elements. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Who is your story about? Who are the characters that are going to go on a journey?
  • Where is your story? What does the world your story takes place in look like? Does the world your characters live in look like our real world?
  • What is driving your characters? What has happened to them, and what do they want?
  • Why do we care? What is it about your characters that is going to get your listeners invested? (Hint: It helps if the characters have a relatable issue to deal with, like trying to protect their families or make a better life for themselves.)
  • What does the journey your character goes on look like? What stands in their way? What are they trying to do?
  • How does your story end? Do the characters get what they want? Do they learn anything? Are they different because of what has happened?

These six simple questions may seem obvious to you, and you'll probably feel like all of them will be answered easily enough in your book. And maybe they would in a written book, but for an audiobook, extra attention is required. You may know the answers to these questions, but will your listener?

When it comes to clear audiobook writing, it can be necessary to state things in a more obvious way than you would if you were writing a print book. The first step in this is getting a simple version of your idea on the page. Don't worry about putting anything beyond the basics for now; just get the straightforward points A to B to C. Basically, establish what happens.

From there, you can build your story and start to add more detail. But make sure you never lose focus on the simple story arc running throughout. In an audiobook, it's not easy to follow multiple subplots, so keep your story linear. Your story should consist of clear sections with a beginning, middle, and end.

Writing Tips for Audiobook Authors

Clear audiobook writing isn't simple, but there are some basic things to do to make your book sound good. Here are five tips and writing techniques for audiobooks to ensure your work sounds professional and to allow for cohesive audiobook narration.

Clear Audiobook Writing

  1. When writing your script, be as descriptive as possible. Your listener needs to be able to picture everything in your story, from the characters to the world they live in. Using detailed descriptive language helps your listener engage with their imagination while listening. Don't just throw in any random adjectives and adverbs for no reason; ensure that the descriptive language is relevant and brings your words to life while at the same time being clear and easy to understand.
  2. Read what you have written aloud. Remember, you aren't writing a book to be read but rather a script to be read out loud so that people can hear it. You, as the author, know what you are trying to say; you came up with the story and know more than the listener or reader ever will. But reading your script out loud makes sure the sentences are manageable. You can't have cohesive audiobook narration if your narrator can't even get their head around what you are saying! Reading the script out loud allows you to see where the narrator could potentially stumble over words and get tongue-tied. When writing a script, it's important that everything in it be spoken out loud. On top of this, it is really helpful to ask someone else if they can listen to what you read. This way, they can tell you if what you are saying makes sense and is intelligible. Having a listener at the scripting stage will also help you learn if your book is easy to follow.
  3. Avoid intense bouts of info-dumping. You want to spread the information in your book. If you put too much information at the very start of your book, it will be easy for your listener to get confused. Make sure you take your time introducing new characters and plot points. And give time for your listener to digest what has happened. Spacing out information is important to ensure your listener doesn't get lost in a big, hectic rush of facts. As well as this, you want to strike a good balance between introducing characters and describing the world and the things actually happening in the story. It can be easy for a listener to lose their concentration, and information overload will mean their mind will start to wander.
  4. When writing a script, describe how people actually speak. It means that you don't have to use correct grammar and spelling when writing dialogue. If you have a character speaking, then write how that actual character would speak. This goes doubly for audiobooks, as you will have a narrator. The narration of your book needs to sound natural. Writing for a narrator is tricky because you need what they are saying to make sense, but you also need it to be readable. So, ask yourself: How would someone read out your description if they were, say, making a presentation in front of people? Try to find the right words so that your narrator can hook the listener.
  5. Don't go for a wander down the garden path. You know when someone is talking, and they start a sentence, and it takes so many twists and turns that you don't even know what they are trying to say anymore? You need to not do this when writing a script. Even if your narrator can get their head around it, your listener will simply get lost and forget entirely what is happening in your story. Generally speaking, you want your sentences to be concise; that doesn't necessarily mean short; it just means they aren't unnecessarily long.

Techniques for Clear and Concise Audiobook Narration

So, what exactly can your narrator do to help carry your story? Well, as we've established, the script needs to be good. But after that, there are tricks that make for better reading.
For one thing, you should work through your script with your voiceover artist. Go through the words and see where there should be a natural pause. This is where punctuation comes in. The general rule is that at a comma, the speaker should take a quick pause, and after a full stop, the speaker should take a longer pause (really a full breath). This will help improve the passing of the story. Some passages may have a more relaxed, slow, low-key vibe, while others will have a quick, hectic, frantic atmosphere. Get this nailed down with your voiceover artist before recording; otherwise, you'll end up re-recording anyway. In addition to knowing when to pause, it's important to know where to add emphasis. When going through the script with your narrator, underline, and circle words. This is really important for good dialogue delivery. Make a note of the type of tone you want for different pieces of text and dialogue.

Cohesive Audiobook Narration
For a cohesive audiobook narration, you need your narrator to not be needlessly quick to read things out. It's always a good idea to speak a little bit slower than you think you need to when reading out loud so that other people can take in what you are saying.

Final Words

Clear audiobook writing is challenging but very important. Crafting cohesive audiobook scripts is the first step towards great audiobook narration.

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