I have accepted a challenge, courtesy of the evil genius Simon Hall.
I have to read a section of my novel.
And I am shitting myself.
Any of you who’ve read this post know how difficult I find it letting my husband read my work, let alone reading it myself to a room full of strangers at an open mic (even if they are the friendly, mildly boozed-up strangers I’m hoping they’ll be.)
In preparation I’ve been trawling the internet for advice and think I’ve come up trumps.
The easiest mistake when performing at an open mic is speaking too quickly. Think about it; listening to prose is very different from reading it. You can’t choose the pace in which you listen, your eye can’t linger over particular words as your brain lets them sink in. You have to take them as you hear them and, if they are spoken too quickly, you will invariably miss some out.
Hence the universal advice: read slowly.
I have tried writing SLOW DOWN in huge letters alone the margins of the page, as advised by @HappyMrsH and I’ve also tried forcing myself to breath in and out at every full stop courtesy of the hubster @TinnellyD.
Another strategy I’ve devised is formatting my piece not as I would like it to be read, but as I would like it to be heard.
Full stops, commas, basically all punctuation have gone out of the window and I space and paragraph based on the amount of time I want to leave between words.
When I want a word to really linger
I leave it at the end of the line. And when I want to give a smaller pause I space the words further apart so it takes me longer
To read them.
Bold reminds me to emphasise.
And when I want to read something quickly I leave the format as is.
Try it! It works! (in my living room at least.)
Now all I have to do is practice like mad and hope all goes well on the night.
Oh, God, I hope it goes well on the night.