Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shakespeare's words were meant to be HEARD

If you look at my profile or "Who Am I?" page, you'll see that I am majoring in Theatre Education. This past Spring I was able to go on a London Theatre study abroad program with Brigham Young University, and lived across the street from Hyde Park for six weeks. They were six of the most amazing weeks of my life, and I saw at least three or four shows a week, from Shakespeare to the newest West End musicals. I loved every second of it.

(If you want to read about my adventures and see some great pictures, you can go here.)

Before we left the States, we had a guest speaker in our preparation class who spoke to us about Shakespeare and the best way to study him in his country. She talked about how lucky we were to be going to the Globe Theatre. "Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed," she stressed. "Not to be studied."

When you think about it, it's true. He was writing to entertain the masses, and they did not have a copy of the script to read and analyze before the performance. Some of the lines are analyzed so much that we lose or change his original meaning of them. For example, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet". The Rose Theatre, one of the Globe's competitors, was on Rose Street, and it sat right where everyone would dump their refuse. The line was meant as a pun for the audience members, and would undoubtedly gain many laughs.

Is it wrong for us to look at it as a poignant line? No. Did Shakespeare mean for it to have a dual meaning? I'm not sure. But the fact of the matter is, that is one of the many instances where he wrote his plays to entertain the people, not to write something with amazing, poignant lines.

(Don't worry, I'm getting to the writing part)

Last night one of my best friends slept over at my house. It's the last time we're going to see each other for a while, possibly years, and she decided she wanted to spend it listening to me read my book to her. Crazy, I know. She wanted to read the story, but she hasn't had a lot of free time on her hands. So the last few times she's come over to my house we've sat down and read for a few hours. Tonight we finished the novel (107k) and she threatened to steal my flash drive to read what I have written for book two.

I learned a couple things from this: one, Chelsea Hanlon will make you keep reading at two in the morning no matter how tired she is. Two, what I was writing wasn't entirely natural. My novel's in first person, and there were times when I stumbled over the words as I was reading it out loud. Some of that was because of how quickly I was trying to read, some of it was because the sentences didn't make sense and roll of the tongue like they should.

By reading it out loud, I was able to learn a lot more about how to make my novel sound more natural. I fixed a few trouble spots and learned more about how my main character, Kenna, actually speaks. It's not quite the same as I do, and it's definitely not quite the same as I write.

Do I think you need to find someone to read your 240k MS to? Heck no. But it does help to read things out loud every once and a while. Even if you don't actually read it out loud, try to think about how it would sound for someone to say that, especially in dialogue. It's hard work, I'm not going to lie, but you'll be able to make your MS that much better because of it. 

And, as my favorite villain, Iago, once said, "How poor are they that have not patience!"



  1. Awesome! I love that you have somebody to read to who can be a sounding board. That's seriously priceless.

    I read aloud to myself late at night, but it's more like muttering. Still, it does help to see where I stumble over accidental alliteration (like that). :)

  2. Tis Rachel![props to Chelsea for staying awake that late...must've been the pizza hehe]
    Great post! Reading aloud is essential, or at least reading "aloud" in your head, if anyone else is around and unwilling to listen hehe. Especially with dialogue. You can SO use your acting smarts for this! Writers ARE actors, really--they have to know and BE their characters in order to write them properly. As a peer editor, I find the most effective technique [and an easy way out for the editor haha] is to pick a jumbled sentence and have the writer read it aloud. Now I'm speaking to the choir XP. Thanks for this!


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