Listening to The Skinner.

I have just a few chapters more to listen to of The Skinner audio book. It’s been an interesting and enjoyable experience. I wasn’t entirely sure about the precise old man’s voice Gaminara used for Sable Keech but it’s grown on me and I now think it’s the best of all. I noticed how when Captain Ron first appeared, his first words were flat but, directly after the description of him, Gaminara turned him into a Glaswegian, which made me laugh out loud. Other highlights are the South African Batian mercenaries, a Welsh Golem and a slightly crazy Irish Olian Tay. Of course what he is doing here is trying to make them distinct beyond the ‘he said, she said and it said’ and, in the end, how does a centuries-old hooper speak, or a walking corpse, or a lobster-shaped war drone?

Throughout the reading I’ve picked up on a few mistakes e.g. the first reference to the ‘Spatterjay viral form A1’ came up as ‘AI’, but only once and understandable in the context. More noticeable to me is how by listening to the book I’m hearing more of my mistakes. In the later chapters, when Sable Keech, Boris, Roach and SM13 are limping across the sea on Keech’s AG scooter I’ve written ‘the probe SM13’ rather than the ‘drone’.

Noticeable too has been just how much I remember – knowing precisely what’s coming as each section starts. I also wish there had been a further beat in the breaks between sections.

I’ve also been picking up a lot on where the writing obviously doesn’t flow well enough – often where it’s too abrupt and staccato. I did wonder too if the change in my writing over the years is reflected in the reading time of the books. My copies of them list The Skinner at 16 hours 2 minutes, The Voyage of the Sable Keech at 16 hours 46 minutes and Orbus at 14 hours 45 minutes. Word counts respectively are 149,879, 158,775 & 135,525, which again respectively give word rates per minute of 156, 158 & 153. Um, no definite trend there. Maybe the lower figure for Orbus is simply due to the tense change?

All of this also brings home to me something I read in one of the numerous ‘How To’ writing books I’ve gone through: reading out your writing is a good idea, because if it doesn’t flow easily off the tongue then it isn’t flowing easily off the page into the reader’s brain. I must start doing a bit more of this reading out loud myself.

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