Monday, 18 February 2019

Stand up, speak up, sit down

I went to a Corby Collective Poets session recently, where poet Spike gave us some pointers on how to move from reading aloud to performing. Here are the notes I took.
  • Props: use them if you feel comfortable, but don't let them become a distraction for either you or the audience. Ask yourself if you are hiding behind your props; can the audience see your eyes?
  • A hand-held mic is better than a fixed one, because you have more freedom; hold it close to your chin to avoid popping your Ps. 
  • An obvious point, but tailor your material to your audience; be prepared to adjust your programme if you think you're losing them.
  • Don't be afraid to mix things up a bit - a fast-paced piece followed by something a bit more thoughtful, sad followed by happy, and so on.
  • Link your pieces with a bit of explanation, as though you were in conversation with your audience.
  • Ignore people who aren't listening and perform for those who are.
  • It's OK to read rather than work from memory; even if you think you can learn the whole thing, having the script on a stand nearby can be a comfort, just in case you need it.
  • If you do read, use the layout to help your performance - for instance, use bold or colour to highlight words you want to emphasise or leave bigger gaps between some words to remind yourself to breathe or pause for effect.
  • Read more slowly than you think you need to.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Do you have any tips to share?

Monday, 11 February 2019

Let thy speech be better than silence...*

I was in Northampton on Thursday evening for the presentation of the H E Bates Short Story Competition prizes. It was a lovely evening, but unfortunately only one of the four winners was there, which meant the other three top stories were read out by members of the organising committee. They did a fine job, but I couldn't help wondering how much better it would have been to hear from the writers themselves.

It's not easy to read someone else's words (unless you're a proper actor, of course); nor is it easy to hear someone else read yours. In the introduction to Nine Lives, my book of monologues, I invite people to perform them wherever they like and say: 'You will see I have included a note with each to describe the person I had in mind as I wrote the story; but if you hear a different voice, that's fine with me.' As it turns out, I find it quite hard to sit and watch someone perform as one of 'my' characters in the 'wrong' voice!

What do you think? Have you ever had your words performed by someone else? If so, how did it feel? Do you guard your characters jealously?

*... or be silent (Dionysius of Halicarnassus)

Friday, 1 February 2019

Bad news for some writers; good news for me!

This is just a quick post, because today has been set aside to get on with writing that book.

Many of my writer friends will have seen that Spirit & Destiny mag is now taking all rights from its fiction contributors. There are, of course, plenty of people who will still submit and be happy with a one-off reward, whether this be through naivety or conscious decision-making. The only story I ever submitted to S&D was rejected, but I'm still sad that it's following Woman's Weekly down this path. Who's next, I wonder.

A bit of good news for me (she says, full of her own importance) is that my winning entry in the Senior Travel Expert 'heritage' competition is now online here. Do take a look, if you have a mo.

Stay warm, folks!