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'11 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
From Inspiration to Publication
Writing the First Draft
Seduce Your Reader
Be a Real Writer
Sexy Writing Partnerships

Kill Electrons, Not Trees
by William Gaius
What Does It Mean...?
The Decision to Self-Publish
The Decision To Self-Publish, 2
Printing ... for Self-Publishers
A Copyright Primer
How to POD, free (almost) Part 1
How to POD, free (almost) Part 2

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Three Top Tips...
Not Writing Erotica
The Importance of Being Colin
Dream Writing
To Boldly Go
The Unforgivable Taboo
Managing Multiple Projects
Doing it in Public
Nil Bastardum Carborundum
Workshop Insights

Assorted Attractions

Meet Robert Buckley
Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister

The Write Stuff

by Ashley Lister

Doing it in Public


The Write Stuff by Ashley ListerSix years ago (to this month), I submitted a column about a public book reading where I shared the spotlight with the inimitable Vanesa Baggott. I compared reading in public to a rollercoaster ride: exhilarating, exciting and fun. 

Since that column I’ve been doing a lot more public readings. I’ve been developing my poetry and taking it out to public forums on a regular basis. I’ve even read short stories on a couple of occasions. And I’ve been asked to read my poetry at a handful of prestigious events and locations. In short, I’ve been doing it in public quite a lot.

So, because I’m aware that reading in public is growing in popularity, and as September seems to be the month when I mention this subject, I figured it was time to share my top 5 tips for reading in public.

1) Practice.
I can’t stress this one enough. Practice reading aloud. If you’re going to read a particular piece, practice reading that piece. Practice reading it aloud so you can time the piece. Practice reading it aloud so you can identify any tongue-twisters you’ve inadvertently written into your text. (We can all read and understand Red lorry, yellow lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry when it’s written down. But saying it aloud is a different matter). Practice, practice, practice.

2) Before you begin, establish what you’re going to read and where you’re going to stop.
Find a logical closure point for your material. If you’re trying to sell a book, leave your audience on a cliff-hanger. Then tell them that copies of the book are available if they want to find out how the story continues. If you’re trying to entertain an audience with an amusing vignette or an anecdote, make sure the story is complete and ends at the point where the audience will understand they can applaud.

3) Take a copy of what you intend reading.
Some say that a writer should never read their material from the page – they should recite it from memory. This is, of course, absolute rubbish. If I didn’t take a copy of my written work with me, I’d be stuffed. The majority of writers I know would be similarly scuppered if they were expected to remember their own work verbatim. Such exercises invariably place a lot of pressure on the writer. This ignores the fact that the writer is already suffering under an undue amount of pressure by having to read work to an audience. Generally, and with the notable exception of Rick Castle, writers are shy types who tend to avoid the public thing. Take a copy of what you intend reading and don’t let anyone pressure you into believing that you don’t need it.

4) Once you’ve finished your reading, pause and wait for the applause.
Audiences can sometimes be a little slow with this. Personally I think this is because we live in an age of TV shows with laugh tracks. Too many audience members are hesitant to applaud because they haven’t heard other people doing the same thing. But, eventually, they’ll get there.

Once you’ve finished your reading make an obvious sign that you’ve completed your work. Take a single step away from the microphone. Close the book you’ve been reading from. Nod so the audience understands that you’ve come to the end of the part you were reading.

Then, silently, count to ten before you give up your spot in the limelight. Trust me, unless you were really bad, the audience will be applauding by the time you’ve counted as high as four.

5) Relax and enjoy the experience
This is what many people forget to do. Stand in front of the room. Note how the audience respond to your words. Breathe regularly. And enjoy the experience.

Entertaining a room full of people can be a memorable experience. Make sure you remember it for the right reasons.

Ashley Lister
September 2011

Contact Ashley at Ashley Lister
Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2011 Archive

"The Write Stuff" © 2011 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Email:  Ashley Lister

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